2017 Best Canadian Soccer Teams: Mid-May Update

With all leagues now playing matches, plus the first two legs of the Canadian Championship and a handful of League1 Ontario Cup matches, there’s been a metric tonne of activity in Canadian Soccer. That’s not even considering everything happening off-field, like the delay of the BC Regional Tier 3, or the official announcement of the Canadian Premier League with CSA confirmed teams in Winnipeg & Hamilton. Determining how to handle the CanPL will have to be the topic of a much later article because today we need to focus on the teams that are playing.

Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer

Toronto FC has continued to demonstrate that they are the top Canadian team. Not only did they dismantle Houston Dynamo 2-0, they also took down the Eastern Conference heavyweights, Orlando City SC, 2-1 during a mid-week match. Meanwhile, we had a Canadian Championship pre-match where Vancouver triumphed over Montreal, 2-1 in la belle province. Vancouver’s victory catapulted them over Impact, placing them in 2nd-place among Canadian teams.

The second weekend of play brought 3 identical scorelines, with all 3 Canadian-based teams winning 1-0 over American-based teams. Vancouver toppled Colorado, Toronto got revenge on Seattle while playing mostly 2nd-line players, and Montreal gained their 2nd victory of 2017 against DC United. This pushed all 3 teams higher for their Elo-rating, but did not change the order. TFC faced another mid-week match against Columbus, and further cemented their lead, as a result of the 2-1 victory.

With a 3rd weekend of play on the books, Toronto continued to dominate with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United. Already 1st in the league, Toronto FC are now on a 6-match winning streak, with most of them coming through a congested Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday crunch. The congested schedule will lighten this upcoming week before TFC starts competing against Ottawa Fury FC in the Canadian Championship. Both Vancouver and Montreal lost this past weekend. Although Vancouver’s lost kept it middle-of-the-road in the Western Conference, Montreal now drops to last in the league. The upcoming Canadian Championship matches between these 2 teams will either cement or reverse the direction of these clubs in the Elo-ratings.

Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer

FC Edmonton has not been doing well. They continued their winless streak through the 1st week of play, falling 2-0 to Miami FC. To add insult to injury, they dropped the 1st leg of the Canadian Championship to USL’s Ottawa Fury FC. For FC Edmonton Fans, Guillermo del Quarto’s therapist has recommended that you “need to try to focus on positives.” The chief positive was that there was still a 2nd leg, and it would happen at home. The down side is their position at the bottom of the table, and a quickly dropping Elo-rating that sitting just above a dismal 1167.

Indy Eleven would host FC Edmonton next in the Canadian side’s congested schedule, and the two sides would battle back and forth all match. Sadly, it remained a standstill throughout, and the Eddies had to settle for 1 point on the road from the draw. They returned to Edmonton for a mid-week match against USL’s Ottawa Fury as the 2nd leg of the Canadian Championship. Although FC Edmonton put on a good performance, it wasn’t enough, and they lost at home 3-2. With an aggregate of 4-2 for Ottawa Fury FC, the NASL-side was eliminated from the Voyageur’s Cup for the 2nd year in a row.

In the 3rd week of play FC Edmonton continued to come short, losing 1-0 at home to San Francisco Deltas. On the bright side, a lot of Canadian players had minuted during the match as Dos Santos has signed a lot to the Deltas. On the down side, FC Edmonton fans can look at the these Elo-ratings and stop thinking about surpassing the USL-sides, while beginning to worry if the PDL-teams like Calgary Foothills FC or Victoria Highlanders FC might overtake the team before year’s end.

Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer

Ottawa Fury FC has a lot to be proud of leading up to this update. In the final weekend of April, the team scraped up a valuable point while visiting Charleston. This was, of course, followed by a home victory against FC Edmonton in the Canadian Championship. The road-draw and Voyageur’s Cup victory would propel Ottawa to the top of the 2nd-division elo-ratings, with a respectable 1238. Both of the reserve teams would take draws, with TFCII gaining slightly in the Elo due to playing on the road, while VWFC2 would lost slightly due to taking the draw at home. A mid-week match for Toronto FC II would see them lose the points they gained from the draw, and more.

The 2nd week of play started with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 dropping 3-1 to Swope Park Rangers, which is probably the team playing the most Canadians. Ottawa Fury FC managed a draw against Tampa Bay Rowdies, while TFCII had the weekend off to recover. This left the order of the standings unchanged in the USL. Ottawa Fury FC took a road trip to Edmonton for the 2nd leg of the Canadian Championship, and set the tone for the match with a goal in the 1st minute of play. Inevitably, Fury would finish the match 3-2, or 4-2 on aggregate, and advance to face Toronto FC in the Voyageur’s Cup. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 also lost 3-1 on a mid-week road match against Tulsa.

The 3rd week of play saw Toronto FC II drop a 1-0 decision to Bethlehem Steel, proving that they still can’t figure out how to put a ball in the net. Ottawa Fury FC, taking on Pittsburgh Riverhounds, would also drop a 1-0 decision, but since fans in Ottawa were too busy cheering on the Senators as they beat Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 in the 1st match of the NHL playoffs, most will not have noticed. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 would turn things around and win their home match this weekend against Colorado Springs Switchbacks, 3 -1. As a result, the pecking-order of the 2nd-division teams would remain largely unchanged with Ottawa at the top, Toronto at the bottom of USL, and FC Edmonton languishing far behind in 4th (7th overall).

Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer

Lots of teams, lots of matches. The opening weekend would start to set things in place. The 1st weekend victors were Windsor TFC Stars, OSU Force, Woodbridge Strikers, TFC III, North Toronto Nitros, and Sigma FC. With TFC III blowing away FC London, 6-0, one might have expected them to top the division. However, with that victory coming while at home, the 5-1 triumph of North Toronto Nitros over Toronto Skillz while on the road would benefit from defeating a team’s home field advantage. Meanwhile, Vaughan Azzurri FC, Durham United FC, Sanjaxx Lions, and ProStars FC would all see draws, leaving a couple of favoured teams sitting middle of the table.

The 2nd week of play brought a lot to the table. OSU Force continued to have a large victory on the road, taking down Master’s Futbol 5-1, and placing them (temporarily) at 2nd in the elo-ratings for L1O/PLSQ sides. Sigma also managed another victory, toppling TFCIII 4-1, and demonstrating that the Baby Reds would not just be walking away with the league this year. Woodbridge Strikers also managed their 2nd win with a victory against Durham. Aurora & North Toronto drew, 1-1, which makes me wonder if the 5-1 for North Toronto from the 1st week of competition was just a lucky night. There were several reversals, with FC London and North Mississuaga picking up wins this week, in contrast to the losses they took in Week 1. Vaughan Azzurri also picked up their 1st win of the season against Toronto Skillz with a modest 3-2 scoreline.

In addition to regular season play, the 2nd week also brought the 1st L1O Cup match, with Toronto Skillz hosting Vaughan Azzurri. The match provided a major boost to Vaughan, shooting them all the way to the top of the L1O & PLSQ section of the Elo-ratings as a result of the 8-2 victory while visiting. With Cup matches weighing a little heavier than a regular season match, this was a nice pick-up at the beginning of the season.

The 3rd week of play saw many of the favourites chalk up another win. Sigma FC downed ProStars FC 4-1 on the road, Durham dropped Aurora 4-1 at home, FC London downed North Mississuaga 4-0 at home, OSU Force booted Toronto Skillz 3-0, and Vaughan Azzurri took a 2-0 victory over Master’s Futbol. As a shock to many, Oakville Blue Devils managed to defeat Toronto FC III 3-2 at home. Rounding out the weekend, North Toronto Nitros were defeated by Woodbridge Strikers 2-1, while Sanjaxx & Windsor drew with 2 goals apiece. These matches pushed Vaughan, Ottawa, and Sigma to the top of the division, with North Toronto Nitros trailing top PLSQ-side, FC Lanaudiere, by 1.5 points on the Elo-ratings.

In L1O Cup action, the 3rd week of play brought us a draw between Sanjaxx Lions & Woodbridge Strikers. The two sides ended up having to settle it with penalty kicks, and Woodbridge found the back of the net 5 times, compared to 4 for Sanjaxx. At this point, Vaughan and Woodbridge have already secured their position in the 2nd round.

Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer

PLSQ kicked off a week later than L1O, but was just as exciting. With CS St Hubert making their PLSQ debut at home, you know they hoped for a win. Sadly they were unable to handle CS Longueuil who took 3 points on the road with a 3-1 victory. AS Blainville, who is always a contender, won their 1st home match against FC Gatineau. Shockingly, CS Mont-Royal Outremont performed quite poorly, being shut out and losing their opening match to FC Lanaudiere by 3 goals. This is very uncharacteristic of a side that only suffered a couple losses throughout last year, all to AS Blainville. CS Mont-Royal Outremont is the last side to win the now-defunct Interprovincial Cup, so we have been expecting some stellar performances. It’s still very early, but if they don’t turn around quickly, there will be a lot of questions about what is happening at CSMRO.

During their 2nd weekend of play, FC Lanaudiere drew against CS Longueuil with 1 goal each. The road draw was enough to keep Lanaudiere the top PLSQ team in the elo-ratings, as the other two matches over the weekend saw a reversal of fortunes. CS Mont-Royal Outremont redeemed themselves with a 4-0 road victory against Dynamo de Quebec. Additionally, FC Gatineau would take a 1-0 victory over CS St Hubert. Neither expansion side has managed a draw or victory yet, but it is still very early in the season.

Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer
Elo-ratings as of 16 May 2017. For information on how this is calculated, read our primer

With their numerous divisions, PDL has a very spread-out way of starting the season, with some teams seeing a lot of matches early, and others, like Thunder Bay Chill, having a condensed season that starts quite late. Calgary Foothills hosted TSS FC Rovers twice in the 1st weekend of play. In the 1st match, Rovers looked to have the upper hand, leading 3-0, until Foothills would find the next just before half. The match would go to the home team, 4-3, teasing everyone with the quality of play. The Sunday match would also prove competitive, but would again favour the home side with Foothills championing 2-0 over Rovers. The following Tuesday it was announced that Rovers, much like Kitsap in 2016, had played with an ineligible player, and the team would be set back -3 points in the standings, but I’ve elected to let the actual scoreline count for calculating the elo-ratings since they had lost the match anyways. To add to the irony, it was a former Kitsap player who had yet to receive their international transfer, meaning TSS was Kitsapped by a Kitsap player.

In the 2nd week of play, TSS FC Rovers hosted Lane United FC in their first match at Swangard. Despite a gorgeous beer pong table with built-in speakers providing tailgaters with a sweet way to have fun, fans were left a little disappointed as the two teams battled to a draw. This left Rovers still at -2 points for the season, as a result of being Kitsapped (see above). K-W United FC would struggle against last year’s PDL Champions, Michigan Bucks, and inevitable lost their year-opener 2-0. Victoria Highlanders FC started the year off looking quite different from 2016. Their Mother’s Day home opener was sparsely attended, but the team performed a fantastic job with a 4-1 victory over Lane. As a result, Victoria leapt to 2nd in the Northwest Division behind Calgary Foothills FC, who are currently up a match.

TSS would get an opportunity to dig themselves out of the hole on Tuesday night against Portland Timbers U-23. The match was streamed on Facebook Live, effectively demonstrating that all matches in the Northwest Division would be streamed somewhere, whether on YouTube, Facebook, or somewhere else. Unfortunately for Rovers, the Timbers U-23 side outmatched the Canadian side with a final score of 2-0. This places Calgary, Victoria, and Portland as the top of the NW Division, respectively, and leaves Vancouver’s TSS still with -2 points.

 

Preview

With the preliminary rounds of the Canadian Championship out of the way, it’s time for the tournament to kick into full gear. This means a very congested schedule for the MLS & NASL/USL sides as they narrow the field to 2 sides for the V-Cup Finals. Additionally, there may or may not be more L1O Cup action, as some games have yet to be scheduled. Some L1O Cup matches take place on 31 May, so they will not be completed in time for our next Elo-rating update.

If you’re really excited 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.

In the meantime, here’s the match schedule we get to look forward to:

May 23:

  • Vancouver Whitecaps host Montreal Impact
  • Ottawa Fury FC host Toronto FC

May 30:

  • Montreal Impact host Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Toronto FC host Ottawa Fury FC

May 19:

  • New York Red Bulls host Toronto FC

May 20:

  • Montreal Impact host Portland Timbers
  • Vancouver Whitecaps host Sporting Kansas City

May 26:

  • Toronto FC host Columbus Crew

May 27:

  • Vancouver Whitecaps host DC United

May 21:

  • New York Cosmos host FC Edmonton

May 27:

  • FC Edmonton host Indy Eleven

May 19:

  • Toronto FC II host Tampa Bay Rowdies

May 20:

  • New York Red Bulls II host Ottawa Fury FC

May 24:

  • Toronto FC II host Richmond Kickers

May 27:

  • FC Cincinnati host Toronto FC II
  • Ottawa Fury FC host Richmond Kickers

May 28:

  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 host Real Monarchs SLC

May 19:

  • Durham United FA host OSU Force
  • FC London host Oakville Blue Devils

May 20:

  • Toronto FC III host North Mississuaga SC
  • Windsor TFC Stars host ProStars FC

May 21:

  • Sanjaxx Lions host Sigma FC
  • Toronto Skillz FC host Woodbridge Strikers
  • North Toronto Nitros host Vaughan Azzurri
  • Aurora United FC host Master’s Futbol

May 26:

  • ProStars FC host FC London

May 27:

  • OSU Force host Vaughan Azzurri
  • Windsor TFC Stars host Sigma FC
  • Aurora United FC host Woodbridge Strikers

May 28:

  • Toronto FC III host Sanjaxx Lions
  • Toronto Skillz FC host Durham United FA
  • Oakville Blue Devils host North Mississuaga SC
  • North Toronto Nitros host Master’s Futbol

May 24:

  • Toronto FC III host Sigma FC

May 20:

  • CS St Hubert host AS Blainville
  • Dynamo de Quebec host CS Longueuil

May 21:

  • FC Lanaudiere host FC Gatineau

May 27:

  • FC Gatineau host Dynamo de Quebec
  • AS Blainville host FC Lanaudiere

May 28:

  • CS Longueuil host CS Mont-Royal Outremont

May 18:

  • West Virginia Chaos host K-W United

May 19:

  • TSS FC Rovers host Calgary Foothills FC

May 20:

  • K-W United FC host Derby City Rovers
  • Des Moines Menace host WSA Winnipeg

May 21:

  • Sounders FC U-23 host Calgary Foothills FC
  • St Louis Lions host WSA Winnipeg

May 23:

  • Saint Louis FC U-23 host WSA Winnipeg

May 24:

  • Saint Louis FC U-23 host WSA Winnipeg

May 26:

  • Chicago FC United host WSA Winnipeg
  • Victoria Highlanders FC host Sounders FC U-23
  • Lane United host TSS FC Rovers

May 28:

  • K-W United FC host West Virginia Chaos
  • Sounders FC U-23 host TSS FC Rovers

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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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