It’s the middle of August. The sun is burning brightly in the sky, birds are chirping in the wee hours of the morning, and the professional soccer leagues are in the thick of a very active season, even as eyes turn to the English Premier League and the Olympics. It’s been a very active couple of weeks for Canadian soccer teams, with a couple of teams bouncing around the table. Let’s see how things shook out.
Toronto FC continues to dominate the top of the table, with their MLS season continuing to demonstrate the strength of a team heavily invested in development, it’s unsurprising that they continue to be at the front of the pack. Montreal Impact continue to hover around the MLS average while the Vancouver Whitecaps remain in the basement, hopeful that they will benefit from the numerous announcements of partnerships with teams and soccer associations across the country.
In the NASL, FC Edmonton continue to dominate. Ottawa Fury FC, on the other hand, fell hard after their 3-game winning streak returned them to the league average at the beginning of August. They’re a little better than they were mid-July, but unless they win the rest of the season, we can count them (and their PCSL academy) out of the playoffs. In the USL, Vancouver Whitecaps 2 & Toronto FC II have both dropped a little bit, while FC Montreal is up a touch. FC Montreal had fallen as low as 989, but managed to pull off a pair of upsets in order to remain above all the Canadian PDL teams except for the PDL 2nd place finisher, Calgary Foothills FC.
League 1 Ontario (L1O) remains mostly unchanged, although the race between Vaughan Azzurri and Woodbridge Strikers is tightening up. Durham United FA dropped back a little bit, but they have had only 1 match in the past couple weeks. Expect Durham to close the gap and make a run for top of L1O’s ELO rankings prior to the end of the season.
In the Premier League de Soccer du Quebec (PLSQ), yesterday was the first round in their semi-finals. The gap between AS Blainville and CS Mont-Royal Outremont has increased, while FC Gatineau has overtaken Lakeshore SC. These four clubs are also the top-4 in league play, but with FC Gatineau sitting 8-pts behind Lakeshore SC, and 13-pts behind league leading Cs Mont-Royal Outremont. There’s a lot of season left for Gatineau to catch up, and their PLSQ Cup run shows they have the potential to pull off some major upsets.
If one word could describe the professional season, it’s consistent. MLS, NASL and USL teams that started strong, continued it right through, while those who struggled, continue to do so. Although there is an occasional glimmer of hope, like in Ottawa Fury’s brief 3-game winning streak, or FC Montreal’s current double-win, everything inevitably seems to return to the this year’s normal.
The real fight has been in the lower divisions, with the top 4 or 5 from L1O & PLSQ regularly changing position, it’s been hard to predict the difference a single week could make. Both of these Canadian 3rd division leagues also have League Cups, which further adds to the uncertainty. The changes from one week to the next are fantastic as they show that training and development of players is the primary purpose of these leagues. When the short PDL season was active, there was some movement of teams along the spectrum as well, again showing how good development can make a difference. I know I can’t wait to see what the back-to-school update will bring on September 1st. See you then!