CanPL.ca’s Best of the second group stage and CPL Final at The Island Games – Canadian Premier League

Chess Engine

For the first time in weeks, its Monday morning and theres no CPL soccer to look forward to in the coming days.

As grand a climax as Saturdays Island Games final was to watch, its setting in now that the 2020 CPL season has come to a close after a wildsix weeks in Prince Edward Island.All in all, we saw 35 entertaining games played out at UPEI in Charlottetown, and then Forge FC walked away with the North Star Shieldfor a second time in as many years.

It would be borderline criminal to forget it all, though. The entire competition was a remarkable spectacle of Canadian soccer, filled with drama and quality.

As we did after the opening round of The Island Games, the team at CanPL.ca has singled out a few unofficial awards to hand out for thesecond group stage and CPL Final in PEI (not to be confused, of course, with the true CPL Awards, whose nominees were announced last week).

RELATED READING: CanPL.cas Best XI of The Island Games Wanders and Forge lead the way

It was an incredible breakout tournament for Farsi, the 20-year-old Montreal native at Cavalry FC. He was a scoring threat, a playmaker, and a pressing weapon on either flank of the pitch.

Perhaps the greatest moment of his Island Games campaign, though, was this goal against Pacific FC. In Cavalrys first match of the second group stage, with Pacific having recently pulled one back to cut their deficit to just one goal, Farsi came up big all on his own.

Farsi spotted Jordan Haynes misread of goalkeeper Callum Irvings pass, and he immediately turned on the jets to chase down the loose ball. He knocked it toward the corner while he himself cut the other way around Haynes, easily winning the race to the open ball.

What happened next was spectacular: Farsi, from an incredibly difficult angle, placed his hard shot perfectly off the far post and in.

Honourable mentions are due to Marco Bustos brilliant header against HFX Wanderers FC and Akeem Garcias goal against Forge in the group stage opener.

The Ox was rightly named a finalist for the CPLs Golden Glove award as the leagues top shot-stopper in 2020, after an Island Games that saw him make some fantastic saves for the Wanderers.

Unfortunately, his performance in the CPL Final may ultimately be remembered for Forges second goal, which bounced into the net after a mistake, butOxner had a fantastic game before that.

Oxner made three saves in the final, and he threw himself on some extremely dangerous loose balls in the box that should otherwise have been goals. His greatest moment, though, came in the 73rd minute; the keeper was off his line after playing a straightforward pass to Andre Rampersad, who turned the ball over to Forge at the worst time.

With Oxner scrambling back into position, David Choinire walked in all alone on goal. Oxner, however,managed to get his left arm out and bat the shot down.

(Highlights from OneSoccer)

All the second group stage games (and, of course, the Final) were very entertaining; the stakes were high, teams were engaged, and everyone seemed to have cranked the intensity level up a notch from the first round, which hadnt seemed possible.

Still, we have to give the crown to this afternoon clash. It was like a three-act play, and it was the moment HFX Wanderers truly earned their place in the CPL Final.

After seeing yellow in just the second minute, Cavs defender Jonathan Wheeldon fouled in the box just 11 minutes in, earning a red card and giving HFX a penalty. Playing with 10 men, Cavalry suddenly had to climb out of a hole one whichgrew even deeper when they conceded another penalty in the 41st minute, making it 2-0 for HFX at halftime.

The Cavs were already decimated by injuries (none of Nik Ledgerwood, Nico Pasquotti, or Oliver Minatel appeared in the game), so there wasnt much Tommy Wheeldon Jr. could turn to off the bench. Still, he stitched something together; Jair Crdova came in to get a goal back for Cavalry, and team manager Tofa Fakunle pulled on his boots and very nearly equalized at the death.

Despite playing a man down, Cavalry took seven shots in the second half and had even more possession than in the first, fighting tooth and nail against a resilient HFX team.

Honourable mentions are due to the chess match CPL Final, and the outstanding Marco Bustos-led Pacific FC performance against HFX Wanderers.

This was a tough one to pick, with the other two nominees for the CPLs U-21 Canadian of the Year award (Valours Julian Dunn and Cavalrys Mo Farsi) would be deserving as well.

NSa really turned it on in the group stage, though. He was one of the best fullbacks in the CPL when it came to 1v1 battles, and he was both pacey and defensively responsible on the right flank. The Wanderers played some very direct football, which meant they relied on their fullbacks to move the ball quickly. He did just that.

Unfortunately, the CPL Final wasnt necessarily NSas best performance at The Island Games, which Forge working to suffocate him a bit (although he did lead the team in touches), but he was still an unsung hero for the club, playing particularly well against Cavalry.

It has to be, doesnt it? Bekker captained his team to yet another championship, picking up a second straight Player of the Year nomination in the process.

Bekker was joint-third in the CPL at The Island Games for chances (12), second in ball recoveries (58), first in crosses (22), and fifth in key passes (11). The stats cant tell the whole story with Bekker, though.

He covered an unbelievable amount of ground, logging very heavy minutes for Forge despite playing a high-tempo, exhausting style. He was really the engine behind everything Forge did, with his exceptional passing and ball-winning ability.

Coach Bobby Smyrniotis said it best: Hes one of the biggest reasons why we do it Theres no better guy to have leading your team on the field than Kyle Bekker.

Honourable mentions go to Marco Bustos (especially for his dominant final game), and Golden Boot winner Akeem Garcia.

Read the rest here:

CanPL.ca's Best of the second group stage and CPL Final at The Island Games - Canadian Premier League

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