The first ever season of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) drew to a close a few weeks back and, while I feel it had been a resounding success, one thing let it down. And that is the identity of the inaugural Champions.
Ok. So before I go too deeply into this, I need to give you a bit of background on my connection to the CPL.
As I’ve alluded to in my introduction to this blog (https://couchpotatoscorner.sport.blog/2019/12/01/example-post/), I am something of a Torontophile. It began with the Maple Leafs in the NHL before progressing to Toronto FC in the MLS. I fell in love with the MLS in 2011 when watching the MLS Review Show made 3am bottle feeding more tolerable. Earlier on this year, I stumbled across the news that Canada was launching their very own Premier League. Being the lover of the underdog that I am, I had to get in on that action.
Doing my research on the available teams, I quickly settled on York 9 FC as they’re pretty much Toronto. I state this up front because my disappointment with the identity of the champions has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are the Nine Stripes’ local rivals, Forge FC (from Hamilton, Ontario, just down the 105. Apparently).
No. My objection is the manner in which they “gained” the crown.
For those of you that will be unaware of the structure of the CPL, it consists of seven full time professional clubs. The clubs play each other, roughly four times a season.
Now, where it differs from European Leagues is that it has two seasons in one twelve month period. One known as the Spring Season (running from April to July) and the Fall Season (from July to October). This is the same as the Mexican and Argentine top flights.
What happens is that, at the end of the Fall Season, the two champions of each “season” then face off in a battle for surpremacy to be crowned the League Champion.
Where Canada differs from, say, Mexico or Argentina, is that in those leagues, if the same team wins both seasons, there’s no need for a grand final, because we know who the best is.
Not so in the Canadian Premier League, where in such an event, the team that is ranked second when you add the full year’s table’s together gets to play them in the final.
This is what occurred in the CPL this year. Calgary’s Cavalry FC where the outstanding team, pretty much from week one. They won eight out of the ten Spring Season match ups, before taking the Fall Season by a single point. They were first overall by six points and even took out an MLS side in the Canadian Championship (sort of their equivlent to the FA Cup, but a little more complicated than that).
Make no mistake, Calavry were THE best team in the Canadian Premier League. But, instead of being recognised as such, they were made to play a Playoff against Forge FC over two legs. A Playoff that they ultimately lost and now the history books will show Forge FC as the best team in the CPL 2019, and that’s just not true.
Now, I’m not wanting to take much away from Forge. I hate to admit it given my partisan loyalties, but they were the second best team in the league. My boys Y9 were third best and we were miles behind Forge.
You could argue that they were only one point off securing the Fall title and their rightful spot in the final. One result different across the season, and they could well have qualified as Fall Champions. But they didn’t. They finished second across the board and you don’t get anything for finishing second. Except the entire championship it appears.
I get the organisers wanted a big showpiece event to round off their first season and get a party atmosphere. I sympathise. But sporting integrity has given way to marketing. I guess that’s just the world we live in. Money talks.
But it’s fne. The trophy sucks anyway!
Who needs that when you’ve got the best dressed manager in the league.
Cavalry FC, like the Rock (Rockies…hmmm), you are The People’s Champion.