The Gatorade Team of the Week for the tenth week of the Canadian Premier League action in 2021, brought to you by Kristian Jack and OneSoccer's Oliver Platt.
GoalkeeperConnor James (FC Edmonton) The Eddies' keeper was a busy man this past week. Although he conceded twice to Cavalry -- a pair of difficult goals that were likely tough to see -- he made three very good saves, without which Edmonton probably wouldn't have held onto their draw at ATCO Field. James showed his ability as one of the best reactive shot-stoppers in the CPL, and he did well to command his defensive line in front of him on set pieces, particularly with dominant aerial force Amer Didic out of the lineup.
Right BackMo Farsi (Cavalry FC) Cavalry's three-centre-back setup seems to get the best out of Mo Farsi, allowing him to roam freely up the right touchline and get involved with their attack. Farsi had a lot of that freedom on Sunday against FC Edmonton, frequently looking to get up beside the box and using his pace to create space for himself. He sent a staggering eight open-play crosses into the box in that match, and he finished with a team-high four key passes and eight duels won. Few players in the CPL are as good as Farsi in one-on-one situations, and his skill with the ball at his feet was on full display Sunday in his eagerness to take on defenders by himself and try to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Perhaps he was a little unlucky not to come away with an assist or two on the day, but his talent was easy to see.
Centre BackAlex Achinioti-Jonsson (Forge FC) The usual central midfielder played twice this week for Forge as a centre-back, and he has brought a lot of quality to that role. On Wednesday night's game against Atlético Ottawa, with Jonsson lining up in a back three alongside Maxim Tissot and Daniel Krutzen (more on him in a minute), Forge had such an incredible ability to play out of the defence that their forwards and fullbacks hardly needed to drift back, knowing the defenders could find them pretty much anywhere on the pitch with a pass. Jonsson won all five of his duels against York on Saturday, with three clearances and four tackles as well. He was similarly dominant against Ottawa midweek, posting a stunning 94.5% pass accuracy playing on Krutzen's right. Daniel Krutzen (Forge FC) If Jonsson was excellent at centre-back for Forge this week, Krutzen may have been even better. He made his long-awaited return to the starting lineup on Wednesday -- for the first time since July 5 -- and played all 90 minutes in both of Forge's games. He scored from the penalty spot against Ottawa, and on that night (an incredibly dominant one for the Hammers) he led the side in total passes (74), pass accuracy (97.3%), touches (89), tackles (3), clearances (3), and turnovers won (10). Truly, Krutzen is one of the best ball-moving defenders in the CPL -- on Wednesday, Bobby Smyrniotis called him the league's best centre-back -- and the champions will be thrilled to have him back.
Left BackKwame Awuah (Forge FC) Is the Kwame Awuah Player of the Year campaign picking up yet? If not, perhaps it should be. Awuah, named the CanPL.ca Player of the Week on Friday, followed up with another sensational performance on Saturday against York United. In a match where the visitors saw more of the ball, Awuah worked hard defensively, making five tackles while patrolling the left flank well against York's dynamic youngster Max Ferrari. He won six out of seven duels in that match, plus three key passes to help ignite the attack. In the midweek fixture, Awuah had a big part to play in Forge's four-goal explosion, assisting the second marker with an exceptional cross right to the foot of Woobens Pacius.
MidfieldAlessandro Hojabrpour (Pacific FC) Hojabrpour put in a very strong 90-minute shift on Sunday against Valour, controlling Pacific's midfield and helping take space away from a Valour side that's very difficult to play against in the middle. He made 95% of his passes and provided very good defensive cover, usually sitting just ahead of the centre-backs in that solo holding midfielder role, to allow Matteo Polisi in particular to get up in the attack more (which he did, with a goal and an assist). Not the flashiest game -- although Hojabrpour drew praise from coach Pa-Modou Kah postmatch for picking his spots to get forward occasionally -- but all-in-all Hojabrpour is a tremendously reliable player for Pacific. He played the same central role for them in Thursday's Canadian Championship spectacle against Vancouver Whitecaps, where again he was a truly remarkable calming presence for a team that was foaming at the mouth to get stuck into tackles; other players had license to jump up in the play and press, because they knew Hojabrpour would be there to cover their space. Raphael Ohin (Valour FC) One of Hojabrpour's main adversaries in the middle on Sunday, Ohin has been steadily working his way back into the excellent form he showed at the beginning of the season. He didn't play Tuesday against FC Edmonton, but he came back well-rested on Sunday for 90 strong minutes on Vancouver Island. Ohin at his best is a player who rampages through midfield with the ball, constantly looking to get it forward directly whether with a pass or a surging dribble of his own. He won the ball 10 times on Sunday, making six tackles, and he made it very difficult for Pacific to play through the middle at times. Ohin is the engine in Valour's midfield, and if he continues to play well they're sure to start picking up some more results. Manny Aparicio (Pacific FC) Although he only played the final half-hour against Valour, Aparicio had to be included after playing the game of his life on Thursday against the Whitecaps. He's an incredible creative player for Pacific, drifting between half-spaces on both sides of the pitch looking to spring attacks with quick passing. He also scored an excellent goal with a difficult finish from the top of the box. Although Aparicio has had his fair share of fitness issues this season, perhaps preventing him from carving out his spot in every starting XI, he's been a real difference-maker in that midfield when available. He's always played with a bite to his game -- even the past two years at York, he was always good for one or two crunching tackles a game, and often a yellow card or more -- but that energy he's brought does seem to take Pacific to a new level when he's on the pitch.
ForwardsTerran Campbell (Pacific FC) Campbell has had quite a special week. First scoring a penalty against the Whitecaps, where he grew up playing, and then scoring another on Sunday with a great run holding off a defender and a good finish. The 22-year-old had three shots and two key passes against Vancouver, and followed it up with another tremendous afternoon against Valour. Campbell has really embraced that right-sided role in the attack, which seems to have given Pacific the option to deploy both him and Alejandro Diaz while Marco Bustos remains out of the lineup. Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah has always been a fierce defender of Campbell, and he had a lot of praise for him on Sunday after the Valour win: "He's blossoming again, just like the first year," Kah said. "He's found his groove, and when he's found his groove he's a handful. He's shown it the last couple of weeks, but the statement he made with the Whitecaps game by bullying their centre-backs, as well as today by getting his goal, making those runs, when he's confident and he's playing well he's one of the best strikers in this league." Woobens Pacius (Forge FC) It's unlikely many CPL fans had heard of Pacius before this week, but he's now started two consecutive games for the Hammers and been one of the most impressive players on the pitch in both. Although Pacius only signed for Forge in early August, he's managed to fit in quickly with a group that has largely been together for almost three seasons now. Pacius showed good striker's instinct within the penalty area in matches this week against Ottawa and York, and he was rewarded with three goals in two games -- he nearly scored a second against York, too. "He's a good player who sets himself up in the right areas in the box," said Forge boss Bobby Smyrniotis of the young striker. "If you do that with the team here you're gonna get high quality service. He's not only been good in the finishing end, but also in his distribution, his hold-up play, I thought he was excellent today bringing different things in... He's showing a different array to his game and he's growing day by day. He's becoming more comfortable in the group, more comfortable with the surroundings." Tristan Borges (Forge FC) Since Forge's trip to El Salvador for the Concacaf League, Tristan Borges has looked increasingly like the unplayable force we all came to know in the 2019 season. He was great in both of Forge's games this week, but especially on Sunday in the 905 Derby when he scored and provided an assist. Borges demonstrated some excellent footwork in the box to bring the ball down and finish for his goal, and then he made an absurdly perfect cross to Pacius for the latter's goal before halftime. Borges picking up steam in the second half of the season is truly a scary thought for other teams in the CPL, particularly with Forge playing well in other areas too. The defending champions will be hoping the young star can continue playing like this in what's sure to be a tight race for placement in the top four over the next couple months.