The Gatorade Team of the Week for the eleventh week of the Canadian Premier League action in 2021, brought to you by Kristian Jack and OneSoccer's Oliver Platt.
GoalkeeperMarco Carducci (Cavalry FC) Two away games in the past week, two clean sheets for Carducci. The Cavalry shot-stopper delivered perhaps his finest performance of 2021 last Wednesday against FC Edmonton, making seven saves (including a phenomenal double stop on the last play of the match) to help his side hold on to a 1-0 lead. Carducci followed up that masterclass with another 1-0 victory, making three saves against Valour as the Cavs kept pace at the top of the table.
Right BackKadin Chung (Pacific FC) The talented young Pacific fullback actually lined up on the left in Saturday's clash with FC Edmonton, but he was excellent as ever in the wide role. He's at the top of the CPL in tackles (45), third in interceptions (29), third in minutes (1,361), and near the top in a handful of other categories, both attacking and defensive. Pa-Modou Kah called Chung "the best right-back in the league" after their 2-1 win over the Eddies for his tenacity and ability to play all the tough minutes for his side, and he was rewarded in that particular match with an absolutely stunning goal that ended up standing as the match-winner.
Centre BackDaan Klomp (Cavalry FC) The Dutch centre-back drew back into the Cavalry side on Saturday after getting a little rest in the midweek Al Classico, and he was right back to his dominant self. He recovered possession 12 times, making two clearances plus a tackle and interception, taking on a very different wide role along the right touchline. Klomp got up the pitch far more than usual as Karifa Yao slid into the anchoring middle role of the backline, which allowed the Dutchman to interchange more frequently with Mo Farsi (he made a match-high 17 passes to the pacey wingback, as the pair was the most frequent connection between two players in the game). Klomp hardly missed a single pass despite his more advanced role (accurate with 54 of 59 attempts). Peter Schaale (HFX Wanderers FC) This was a big week for the German-born defender, who was key to a pair of huge home results for the Wanderers. He delivered a man-of-the-match performance midweek against Forge, scoring a headed goal off a set-piece and doing an extraordinary amount of defensive work to help them secure a massive clean sheet result against an attack that had been red hot coming in. He played the 90 on Labour Day Monday as well, making five blocks against a York team that put the Wanderers under serious pressure for much of the game. Schaale helped keep them in check, putting HFX in a position to make their stunning late comeback to pull out a wild 3-3 draw.
Left BackDiyaeddine Abzi (York United) Abzi will probably want the very last moments of that game in Halifax back, when the Wanderers' equalizing goal deflected off him and in, but prior to that he'd been playing a fantastic game, scoring York's first goal from a wonderful set-piece routine and, not long after, making an incredible block off the line to save a sure goal. He took on a team-high 19 duels at Wanderers Grounds and won most of them, leading his team with 84 touches. He also put in a very strong performance midweek against Atlético Ottawa, whipping in eight crosses and, once again, leading his side in touches as the Nine Stripes continue to find attacking success playing through Abzi on the left.
MidfieldElliot Simmons (Cavalry FC) Always a quietly impressive presence in midfield, Simmons played all 90 minutes of both of Cavalry's games this past week, and he was an important piece in their ability to dominate centrally against both Edmonton and Valour. He had two slightly different roles -- part of a double-pivot against the Eddies, then playing as a solo holding midfielder against Valour -- but he did exceptionally well in both outings. Simmons won possession frequently, and looked to play incisive forward passes between the lines -- which he did to considerable success. Simmons is a versatile player for Cavalry, but always reliable on the ball no matter where Tommy Wheeldon Jr. chooses to deploy him. Max Ferrari (York United) Ferrari played 90 minutes at right-back for York in Ottawa, and just a few days later he put in another 90 minutes in Halifax -- but this time at left wing. He recorded a stunning assist to Michael Petrasso in the first game, and he was incredibly lively again against the Wanderers, taking a team-high five shots. Ferrari probably covered every inch of a football pitch if you consider both his games this week, demonstrating his incredibly diverse arsenal of abilities. The 21-year-old Ferrari is putting together a spectacular season for York, having played in every game so far for the club. Surely he's a mid-season candidate for the U-21 Player of the Year award? Mo Farsi (Cavalry FC) The tricky Cavalry wide man fits into the Gatorade Team of the Week on the edge of midfield, just because of how good a week it's been all-around for fullbacks. He, again, played 180 minutes this past week, both of them on the right flank. He played a little higher up the pitch against Valour, but he was able to get involved in the attack in both matches. Farsi is one of the most talented players with the ball at his feet in the CPL, and with his pace on top of it there are very few defenders in the league who can stop him. It was a professional pair of road wins for Cavalry, Farsi did his job well -- not necessarily as flashy as he has been in some games, but always a hub of energy in a match. Michael Petrasso (York United) Now that he's healthy, Petrasso has really become the player York hoped he'd be when he first signed for the club. The experienced Canadian international had a goal and two assists in the last week, getting on the end of Ferrari's cross to score in Ottawa then setting up both Abzi and Julian Ulbricht on Monday against HFX. Petrasso's excellent vision has been on full display, as has his ability to pick out difficult passes to trigger attacks. The 26-year-old is finding a lot of success playing in the number 10 role behind a singular striker and looking to create chances for his teammates -- especially when they come from wide areas with pace.
ForwardsJoao Morelli (HFX Wanderers FC) The Brazilian forward added some breathing room to his lead atop the Golden Boot standings, scoring two high-pressure penalty kicks within the last 10 minutes of the Wanderers' 3-3 draw with York United on Monday. He's up to nine on the season now, having been by far the most productive attacker for this HFX team. Morelli missed the midweek game against Forge due to suspension, but he came back in against York and took control of the game, especially after they fell behind. Morelli finished with four shots and one key pass, winning eight of his 12 duels (including all three in the air) as he continued to be the driving force of the Wanderers attack. Josh Heard (Pacific FC) Another of the most underrated players in the CPL, Heard has been fantastic this year for Pacific -- but especially so since the injury to Marco Bustos. He started on the left against FC Edmonton, which allowed him to combine with Chung very well. With Alejandro Diaz looking strong in the middle, Heard kept wide to keep FC Edmonton stretched at the back. Heard had three shots and two key passes, causing serious problems for the Edmonton right side. Heard's role with this Pacific squad continues to grow, and he has answered the call every single time.