For as tight as the Canadian Premier League's playoff race has been this season, there is another race just as likely to come down to the wire. That is the chase for the league's Golden Boot, which with two match weeks remaining has four players in the hunt. Atlético Ottawa midfielder Ollie Bassett leads the charge with 11 goals, Myer Bevan of Cavalry FC and Forge FC's Terran Campbell are on ten each, while Campbell's Forge teammate Woobens Pacius has now scored nine. Last year's Golden Boot went to Pacific FC's Alejandro Díaz (now with Vancouver FC), Halifax's João Morelli (2021) and former Wanderer Akeem Garcia (2020), as well as Forge's Tristan Borges (2019), are the other recipients. The league's Golden Boot winner is awarded with The Hunter, an award crafted by Cape Dorset artist Pitseolak Qimirpik. The Hunter represents courageousness and fearlessness. Here is a look at the four players who are currently at the front of the pack in the Golden Boot race:
Ollie Bassett, Atlético Ottawa - 11 goalsAfter taking home the Canadian Premier League's Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year awards last season, Bassett is looking to add a Golden Boot to his trophy cabinet this season. After scoring eight times last season, he has been even more prolific in 2023 with a league-leading 11 scored this campaign. Bassett has proven over the past few seasons that he has the ability to find the back of the net in a variety of different ways, be that from long-range efforts, in transition, moments of individual brilliance or the penalty spot. He has also hit the woodwork three times this season (only York United's Mo Babouli has been denied by the frame of the net more often), and only Halifax Wanderers attacker Massimo Ferrin has more shot attempts than Bassett this season. As Bassett has gone, so have Ottawa this season, the 25-year-old found the back of the net in six of Ottawa's eight victories this season (and also had an assist in a seventh). He has also scored in each of the six months of this season so far, showing just how consistently excellent he has been. It is worth noting that Bassett has been held off the scoresheet in all three of the CPL regular-season meetings against Ottawa's final two opponents, York United and Forge, this season. However, he did score a penalty against Forge in the Canadian Championship quarter-finals.
Myer Bevan, Cavalry FC - 10 goalsBevan is the first player to hit double-digit goals in a season for Cavalry since Dominique Malonga tallied 11 in the league's inaugural season. So should Bevan win this year's Golden Boot it would also likely mean setting a club record. He is also a single goal behind another record, for most penalties scored in a season, set last year by Sam Salter with the Halifax Wanderers who scored six from the spot. "My mom has started calling me Myer Pevan, so hopefully I start scoring more outfield goals, you know?" joked Bevan after scoring from the spot against Vancouver FC earlier this month. The New Zealander, however, has been a goal threat from just about anywhere this season with a league-leading 9.13 expected goals. He also has four assists to his name this year, and his constant work rate makes him a handful up top even when he isn't getting on the scoresheet. In terms of remaining fixtures, Bevan has found the back of the net in two of three matches against Valour this season, while netting once against Pacific (and once more in the Canadian Championship). With Cavalry having wrapped up the regular season title, it will be interesting to see how much they use him as well. But with two home matches to finish the season, plus at minimum their first playoff match at home, meaning no added travel, Tommy Wheeldon Jr., might allow the Kiwi attacker to chase the club goal record and Golden Boot. Bevan has scored six of his ten goals at home this year.
Terran Campbell, Forge FC - 10 goalsAfter a bit of a disappointing first campaign with Forge last season in which he scored just six times, the Canadian Premier League's all-time leading goalscorer is back where he belongs this campaign near the top of the league's Golden Boot race. The 24-year-old Campbell finished third in the race in 2021, and second in the league's inaugural season, 2019. Over the next two matches, he will be looking to finish as the leader for the first time. Campbell has been incredibly dangerous all season long, as he leads the league in shots on target, with 29 and an impressive 76.32 per cent shooting accuracy. He also leads the league in big chances, with a stunning 20 so far this campaign. Campbell is also the only player on this list who has scored none of his goals from the penalty spot. Seven of his ten goals this season, however, have come against 905 derby rivals York United. He only has one goal against a team that isn't York, at home against Valour on July 16, in his past 13 matches played.
Woobens Pacius, Forge FC - 9 goalsIn terms of goalscoring form, there is no player who has been hotter lately than Pacius. The 22-year-old has five goals in his past four matches, quickly making him a late contender for this year's Golden Boot. Pacius finished fourth in the league in scoring last season, with ten goals, and is tied with Bassett for the most combined goals over the past two seasons, with 19. Pacius tends to score goals in bulk when he gets confidence so more could well be on the way, while also helping his case is the fact that Forge has recently started playing with a formation that puts both himself and Campbell at their natural number nine position. He is also tied for the league lead, with teammate Terran Campbell and Pacific's Amer Didić in goals from headers with three this season. He also has the third-best goal per 90 of any player in the league at 0.66, behind only Halifax's João Morelli and Cavalry's William Akio. Also helping Pacius' case is the fact that he has scored against both of Forge's final two opponents, Halifax and Atlético Ottawa this season. Pacius has scored more goals against Ottawa than any other club in his CPL career.
All goal highlights courtesy of OneSoccer