The four teams in the upper half of the table all won their games last matchday. This week, none of them did. With the postseason fast approaching, no team was able to gain a real advantage in the standings, although draws on the road from Cavalry and Halifax could go a long way for those two sides in their respective title and playoff pushes.

Match of the Week: Vancouver FC 2-1 Atlético Ottawa

The only teams that won this weekend? Valour FC, who occupy seventh place, and last-place Vancouver FC.

It was Afshin Ghtobi’s Eagles who pushed the pace against an Atlético team looking to solidify their playoff positioning. An early strike from Mikaël Cantave on the counter got things going for the hosts, as Gabriel Bitar played the former Cavalry man through on goal.

A total whiff from Vancouver keeper Callum Irving got Ottawa back into the game in the 18th minute with Ollie Bassett taking advantage and also taking sole possession of the Golden Boot lead.

Ruben del Campo pressured Irving into the mistake and got the ball to Bassett for his 11th of the year.

Less than 10 minutes later, Del Campo almost made another contribution as he blasted a shot off the crossbar but it was Vancouver who were on the front foot for most of the match. Kadin Chung had a powerful effort stopped by Nathan Ingham in the first half and striker Shaan Hundal thought he got his team the lead in the 75th minute but he was called offside on the play.

It didn’t come easy for the Eagles at home but a second-half stoppage-time goal from young fullback James Cameron ended up separating the two sides. It was right place, right time for Cameron who got on the rebound after it had been Hundal again leading the charge for Vancouver.

It’s been a tough season for Vancouver in their maiden campaign but Ghotbi has pushed his squad to not give up with playoff soccer not yet mathematically ruled out. With two wins in their last four, we are seeing the result of that ‘push until the end’ mentality.

Player of the Week: Dante Campbell (Valour)

There’s something about York Lions Stadium for Valour. Their only two away wins on the season have come in York United’s backyard with their most recent being a 3-1 victory on Saturday.

York were doomed early on, with defender Noah Abatneh sent off for a reckless challenge on Matteo de Brienne late in the first half. By the time of that incident, York were already behind, as Valour’s Dante Campbell had given his team the lead 10 minutes earlier, converting on a low cross into the box from Kian Williams. Campbell was left all alone to tuck it away, netting for the first time this season.

Campbell has been one of his team’s MVPs in 2023 and he had what was possibly his best performance of the season in the win. He won a game-high eight duels and put in a shift on the defensive end as the Nine Stripes put all their efforts in the attack. Campbell finished the night with five recoveries, two clearances, and two interceptions, and pushed forward from fullback when he could, creating three chances for his teammates.

Goal of the Week: Diego Gutiérrez (Valour FC)

A sweet top-of-the-boot finish from Diego Gutiérrez was the final touch of a great bit of play from Valour for their second goal against York United.

Gutiérrez and Marcello Polisi won the ball from Clément Bayiha and were off to the races. Gutiérrez offloaded it to Walter Ponce who then returned it back to his captain for the finish.

Adisa De Rosario made a fantastic stop on Anthony Novak a few minutes later, but there was no denying Gutiérrez’s goal.

Stoppage time

Cavalry at Forge was teed up to be the match of the season but it honestly fell flat. Marco Carducci was the standout in Cavalry’s goal and then says a lot for a game that had so much going for it. Forge were unable to really trouble their foe, mostly relying on long-range efforts.

Though Cavalry will be quite pleased with their defensive performance and getting a valuable point at Tim Hortons Field they were unable to even register a shot on target. Myer Bevan was neutralized for most of the match and the presence of Ali Musse and William Akio off the bench didn’t provide a spark for the away side. Things would end goalless for the first time in league history between the two CPL heavyweights, with Bobby Smyrniotis’ historic 150th match in charge of Forge not going to plan.

Things were a bit more lively during the 1-1 draw between Pacific FC and HFX Wanderers at Starlight Stadium on Saturday night.

With the likes of Daniel Nimick, Lorenzo Callegari, and Massimo Ferrin all staying home for a much-needed rest, Halifax were still able to steal a point away from home even with their backs against the wall for most of the 90 minutes.

Midfielder Armaan Wilson notched his first CPL goal at the end of the first half against the run of play but Pacific would get their equalizer from the spot after half-time in contentious fashion. It wasn’t clear just how much contact was made on Ayman Sellouf inside the area but the Dutchman put away his effort from 12 yards out regardless.

Pacific almost got another chance from the penalty spot after the match official pointed to the spot for a handball spotted on Mohamed Omar but the decision was then changed to a free kick on the edge of the area. The home support was left upset with the call and their team’s inability to get the better of a team who looked pleased to earn the sole point.

Both sides now have a midweek match looming with the Wanderers travelling to face Cavalry on Tuesday, while Pacific visit Ottawa the day after.