In the CPL, there's the Cavalry FC — and then everyone else
Calgary team look for 7th straight win in matchup vs. HFX Wanderers
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. wasn't joking.
Barely before a ball was baptized in the Canadian Premier League, the head coach of Cavalry FC declared: "They've always been good enough."
He was referring to a crop of young players who followed him from Calgary Foothills FC to the CPL. Turns out Cavalry is more than good enough. It is head and shoulders above its rivals in the race for the first-ever CPL Spring title.
There's Cavalry. Then there's everyone else.
Six straight wins. Count them. Four in the CPL plus home and away victories over Pacific FC to advance in the Canadian Championship. Any coach, at any level, anywhere in the world, craves that sort of consistency.
The Cavalry charge is in full cry. Heading into the weekend, and another home game against HFX Wanderers, the Cavs have opened up a cavernous five-point lead at the top of the standings. It's a dominant statement of intent from a team that is ambitious offensively and solid on defence.
Buscher headlines a well-organized squad
There are few, if any, apparent weaknesses. Cavalry is well drilled, well organized and every player is comfortable on the ball. It is a team that understands the importance of patience. Building methodically through midfield and using the width of the pitch is becoming a team trademark.
Julian Buscher is the architect. The German midfielder has quickly established himself as a pivotal cog in the Cavs wheel. His range of passing, defensive alertness and cool finishing is an irresistible combination.
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Cavalry is, without question, the team to beat. The target is on its back is expanding with every game. The Wanderers are the only team it hasn't yet faced. Both advanced in the Canadian Championship in midweek so expect lineup changes at Spruce Meadows.
The omens are not promising for HFX. Stephen Hart's team has yet to score a league goal or earn a point on the road following CPL losses at Pacific and Valour. There is certainly room for improvement as the Wanderers head to Alberta aiming to spring a surprise.
If any team is going to close the gap, it might be Forge FC. The Hamilton based club leads the CPL in goal scoring with eight strikes in five games. Forge is getting set for the 905 Derby at York9 — a rerun of the CPL's opening day.
A month ago they shared the spoils in a 1-1 tie in the Hammer and Forge has scored in every game since. It is also well rested after returning from Winnipeg with a 2-0 win over Valour where Tristan Borges, again, caught the eye scoring the insurance goal.
Jim Brennan's Y9 has also scored in every game. All that's missing is a win. The signs are the men in green are warming to their task. They showed resilience to dig themselves out of a hole last weekend at Langford, B.C., earning a point in a 2-2 draw, and followed that with a narrow Voyageurs Cup victory on Wednesday.
But CPL wins are key in this sprint of a spring season. York9 sits at the bottom of the standings because it is the only team lacking a morale boosting 'W'. Brennan needs no reminding of the ancient but factual cliche — win your home games, and grind it out on the road.
Neither team can claim to be rock solid defensively. Y9 has shipped five goals in three games, while Forge has conceded the same number in five outings. Games stats can be deceiving, but York goalie Nathan Ingham leads the league with 14 saves — an indication opponents are finding ways to test his agility on a regular basis.
Goals, of course, change games. Expect another batch this weekend in the CPL.