2017 Best Canadian Soccer Teams — Mid-August Update

Welcome to our mid-August update. There’s been a lot of action over the past couple of weeks, including the Premier Development League final between Thunder Bay Chill & Charlotte Eagles, and the League1 Ontario Cup final between Woodbridge Strikers & Vaughan Azzurri. That means a lot of movement was possible throughout all divisions of play. Additionally, with the final lower-tier team eliminated from the US Open Cup, we take a quick look at how the averages shifted in relation to each other and their 2017 starting point.

All three Canadian-based sides performed relatively well over the past few weeks, increasing their overall elo-rating scores. In the West, Vancouver started out with a 4-0 victory on the road against FC Dallas. This was followed by a road-draw against Colorado, and a 1-0 road loss against New England. Despite the 1-1-1 record, their big win at the beginning against a team well ahead above the ‘Caps in the elo-ratings, provided the team with a greater boost to the points than the minor loss at the end of the cycle. Vancouver is just 1 point shy of the final playoff position in the West, sitting behind San Jose Earthquakes.

In the East, Toronto FC continue to dominate at the top of the table. They demolished New York City FC at the end of July, 4-0 in New York. This was followed by a road draw against DC United, and a 4-1 home victory against Portland. TFC now sits over 1500 points, giving the Reds a sizable lead over other Canadian-based teams. Unlike Toronto, Montreal Impact FC lost 4-0 in New York at the end of July, albeit against the Red Bulls. Despite the setback, Montreal went on to a trio of victories, winning 2-1 over Orlando, 3-0 over Philadelphia, and 3-0 over the 3rd place team in the East, Chicago Fire. As a result of their record this stretch, they’ve jumped to 7th in the East, just 2 points behind Atlanta United FC in the final playoff position. They also leapt above the floundering Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the elo-ratings, with an above-average score of 1416.

NASL

The “Fall” season is underway, and with it FC Edmonton have a new lease on life. With the return of Fordyce to the squad, the team looks to bounce back from a disappointing “Spring” season. The opening match of the season, however, demonstrated that one man isn’t everything as the Eddies (1) fell against Indy Eleven (2). Although beaten, Edmonton was not out for the count as they played a return leg in Indy the following week, destroying the American-side in a 3-1 victory.

For their 3rd match of the Fall, FC Edmonton hosted the Cosmos. Sadly, a victory was not in the cards. The Eddies did manage to squeak out a draw, which helped them continue to increase their gap over PDL’s Thunder Bay Chill, and narrow the gap with TFC II in the elo-ratings. In the NASL table, FCE currently sit in 5th, and have a chance of closing the gap if they continue to turn things around.

USL

Unlike Canada’s sole NASL-side, the three USL teams did not fair as well in the elo-ratings. All three teams show a decrease in their total scores, losing overall points to American-sides. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 started off the loss-train dropping their match on July 29th to Orange County. Then they drew at home against Rio Grande, lost on the road to Sacramento, and ended off with a 3-0 loss in a Cascadian derby away in Seattle. With 3 losses and 2 draws in their last 5 matches, VWFC2 sit 2nd-last in the West, 11 points shy of the OKC Energy FC who sit in the final play-off spot.

Toronto FC II is in a similarly hopeless boat, sitting 2nd-last in the East after their recent string of matches. Things started off with Toronto FC II (0) losing to their Ontario rivals, Ottawa Fury FC (2). Despite following it up with a 1-0 victory at home against Charleston Battery, TFCII went on to draw Charlotte Independence at home, and lose 3-1 on the road against Bethlehem Steel FC. The young reds sit 13 points behind Orlando City B, who are currently in the final playoff position.

Ottawa, who as mentioned began this stretch with a 2-0 victory over Toronto, followed up the Canadian derby with a home loss against Bethlehem, and a 3-1 victory over Charlotte. Then something unexpected happened. Paul Dalglish, the team’s coach, was coach no more. Many expected it to come at the end of the season, even with a fair number of supporters very unhappy with his performance over the past couple years. Some, like myself, have been calling for #dalglishout for quite some time.

The new coach, former Canadian International, Julian de Guzman, couldn’t turn things around overnight, with his 1st match as interim coach coming literally 1-day after the announcement. Orlando City B triumphed, 3-0, over Fury. As a result, Ottawa are now 4-points out of the final playoff position, which went to Orlando as a result of last night’s match. There’s only a handful of matches left, which will be good for JDG to get a handle on the new position so he can, hopefully, take over officially to give Fury a fighting chance in 2018.

There was a lot of action in League1 Ontario over the past couple of weeks, but most importantly was the L1O Cup final. Woodbridge faced off against Vaughan to determine the cup champion, and it was a brutal battle. Woodbridge was victorious, 3-1, over Vaughan, which both pushed Vaughan down the elo-ratings and propelled Woodbridge to the top of the Division 3 teams, even above PLSQ’s AS Blainville.

In regular season action, FC London has been a team worth watching. They defeated North Toronto Nitros on July 28th, 2-1, and followed that up with a 4-1 victory over Master’s Futbol on August 12th. These 2 victories, combined with movements of other teams, has pushed FC London to 20th place overall on the elo-ratings, just slightly ahead of PLSQ’s CS Longueuil and behind TFC III. TFC III held a scoreless draw against Woodbridge at the end of July, defeated OSU Force 3-1 in Ottawa, and then fell 3-2 at home against North Toronto Nitros this past weekend.

Woodbridge also defeated Vaughan in regular season action, 3-0, just days following the L1O Cup victory. The league leaders aren’t winning everything though, as they fell 5-1 against Sigma FC, demonstrating just how close these matches can get. Vaughan ended July with a 1-0 victory of North Mississuaga SC, and defeated Sanjaxx this past weekend 3-0.

Sigma drew against Durham at the end of July, then went on to lose 1-0 to Oakville mid-week. Oakville had ended July with a 2-1 victory over Master’s Futbol, and went on this past weekend to defeat Aurora 3-2, giving the team 3 straight victories since the previous elo-ratings. As a result, Oakville has moved from 20th to 17th in the overall elo-ratings.

Rounding things out, Sanjaxx defeated Aurora on July 30th (2-0), Aurora defeated ProStars on August 5th (2-0), Durham championed over ProStars on August 11th (5-0), and Toronto Skillz downed Windsor TFC on August 13th (3-0).

Premier Ligue de Soccer du Quebec started off the past few weeks with a pair of PLSQ Cup matches. Marking the 1st leg of the semi-finals, an away-win would mean a lot to AS Blainville or FC Gatineau. Surprisingly, only 1 of those teams managed to pull ahead. FC Gatineau (3), as expected, walked right past CS St-Hubert (1). With a 2-goal difference while away, they are almost assured of a spot in the PLSQ Cup Final. AS Blainville, on the other hand, only managed a draw against CS Longueuil.  Should they win, or have a scoreless draw at home in the 2nd leg, they will move on to the final. Given how they’ve generally done throughout the league this year, a PLSQ Cup victory for Blainville is likely, but they haven’t done too well over the past couple of weeks.

Ok, things went fine for them on August 5th against CS St Hubert, as they dropped the newcomers 1-0. However, their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Dynamo de Quebec the following week is a strange turn of events. Just as strange was CS Hubert’s victory over FC Lanaudiere, who had managed to defeat FC Gatineau on August 6th. Longueuil and Quebec drew on the 5th, while CSMRO triumphed 2-0 over Gatineau on the 13th. This 3-week stretch marks the first real week with odd results. Those that were favoured, sometimes largely favoured, to win, dropped the match. Whether this marks a sea change in PLSQ remains to be seen, but we’ll definitely be watching how things play out.

The Premier Development League wrapped up their playoffs during this stretch of play. On July 29th, the final Canadian-based side, Thunder Bay Chill, played their semi-final match against FC Golden State Force. It was a very tight match, as both sides played very competitively throughout the 90. Thunder Bay’s move defensive-based team were able to build the play and come ahead in the match, scoring the sole goal. The following weekend, Chill took on Charlotte Eagles for the PDL Final. Sadly, it was not to be for the Canadian side, as Charlotte took the day, 2-1. With their loss, Thunder Bay saw their elo-rating fall slightly. Although this did not affect the rankings, as they remain top of Canada’s PDL teams, it did widen the gap between them and the lowest-ranked USL & NASL teams, making it unlikely that a lower-division squad will jump above in the single-season rankings.

US Open Cup, Voyageur’s Cup, and Elo-Shifting

In addition to the action from the Canadian clubs, the US Open Cup continues. This past week, the final lower-division team, FC Cincinnati, fell to New York Red Bulls. This allows us to take a peak at how the elo-ratings have shifted slightly as a result of inter-divisional competitive play (US Open Cup & Voyageur’s Cup). All divisions slipped downward, largely as a result of some long-runs from amateur sides, so I readjusted to place MLS back at the 1400 starting point inorder to see how things compared.

As a result of FC Cincinnati’s victory over Miami FC in the quarterfinals, USL remains virtually unchanged, just a few decimal points above their 1225 starting point. The NASL, in contrast, dropped ever so slightly to an average of 1223. With such a negligible difference between the two, we can effectively say that there was no real change in their relative positions. The PDL did suffer a bit of a drop to 996 from 1000 after the adjustment.  It’s only a 4-point decrease, which is not particularly substantial, but something worth keeping an eye on in future years.

All-in-all, there was insignificant change in league averages as a result of the interdivisional competitions. This would seem to validate the starting points and weighting system that I decided to use prior to the start of 2017. This would suggest no tinkering is necessary for these existing leagues, provided there is no substantial change in status or format, prior to the 2018 season. I’ll deal more with this topic once we know the status of NISA, the proposed US Division 3 league, and the Canadian Premier League for 2018. USL D3 is not proposed to start until 2019, so we won’t have to figure them out for another year.


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Elo-ratings as of 17 August 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 17 August 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Closing

That’s everything for the past 3 weekends. The Premier Development League is all wrapped up, which will make this a little quicker a write moving forward. It sadly also leaves me without any local soccer for the remainder of the year, so look for me to fill in occasional articles on other teams. I’d cover some PLSQ action, but unfortunately my grasp of the French language is very limited, although I may give it a go for the 2nd leg of the PLSQ Cup semi-finals in September. In the meantime, there’s a lot of decent soccer happening among the Canadian-sides. Look for the next elo-ratings article on August 31st.

If you’d like to keep up to date on Elo-ratings, consider donating on Patreon. Although these update articles come out twice-monthly, all patrons will receive weekly Elo-rating updates, which may provide a better view of a team’s trends throughout the year. There are other Patreon benefits available as well, and we aim to add more as we are able.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shawn Gray

Shawn Gray

Shawn Gray is an experienced author who has previously published articles on transit, cycling & politics. With a Bachelor of Arts (English) degree, a Bachelor of Education degree, an Event Management graduate certificate, and two years of Business Administration, his education has helped him connect with a variety of people, through numerous industries. In 2014, he was a Team Lead in the Club Section of TD Place, where the Ottawa Fury host matches. Now located in Victoria, British Columbia, Gray enjoys the local PDL matches, and tries to watch his favourite clubs online with his infant son whenever possible.

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