The Gatorade Team of the Week for the 13th week of the Canadian Premier League action in 2021, brought to you by Kristian Jack.
GoalkeeperMatt Silva (Valour FC) Dylon Powley ran him close for the gloves in our team of the week after a standout showing at Pacific on Sunday, but the 30-year-old Valour netminder gets the nod after two excellent games this week, including a brilliant showing at Tim Hortons Field when he made a remarkable 10 saves to help keep the score to just 2-1. It hasn't been easy for Silva watching Jonathan Sirois produce match-winning performances early in 2021, but he has waited patiently and was rewarded with a place against Cavalry on Saturday where he was excellent again, in particular diving to his left to stop David Norman Jr's fierce shot deep into injury time and preserve a much-needed point for Rob Gale's men.
DefendersZach Verhoven (Atlético Ottawa) Like Silva, Verhoven played two games this week and didn't win either but was very good for Mista's team at right back in both away clashes, coming at York and Pacific. Handling Diyaeddine Abzi and Alvaro Rivero on one flank isn't easy but he was very dependable midweek and then took it to another level out west on Sunday when he was arguably his team's best player, receiving the ball comfortably in areas of real danger and providing his team with a key outlet in wide areas. Verhoven finished the match by leading his team in touches, tackles and possessions gained (a game-high 12) and looks to have brought some much-needed stability to back line in desperate need of it. Lukas MacNaughton (Pacific FC) Second to Verhoven in the amount of times a player regained possession (10) in Sunday's tilt was the 26-year-old centre-back. Consistently a solid defender, MacNaughton can also do damage with the ball as he showed with a key 92nd minute equalizer at Edmonton and in possession against Atlético. This was a match where his team was chasing and dominating the attack while behind and needed his composure to show just how important it was to be patient and build well from the back. Pacific's true leader of their defence finished with 71 pass attempts and over 90% passing accuracy. Rodrigo Reyes (Valour FC)
MidfieldersNik Ledgerwood (Cavalry FC) A player who would have made this team even before his free kick goal at Valour, simply based off a tremendous midfield performance inside IG Field where, alongside his Gatorade Team of the Week teammate, he established real impact in the centre of the pitch from the opening whistle. Inside the midfield two of a 3-2-3-2 formation, set out by Tommy Wheeldon Jr, the Cavalry skipper prevented Valour playing through the lines, particularly throughout the first 45 minutes, while in the second half he intercepted a pass for Kevan Aleman that allowed the visitors to win the ball back high up the pitch and gain a free kick that he would score from. Victor Loturi (Cavalry FC) Ledgerwood's partner in central midfield on the pitch joins him in this side after the pair worked really well together at IG Field in Winnipeg. Cavalry went into the match knowing they needed to bring more intensity and with a far more attacking, pressing style evident it was Loturi that set the tone in central midfield, covering a lot of ground and frustrating Valour, who found their way back into the match only by getting wider and away from Loturi, through impact substitutions, later in the second half. Pierre Lamothe (HFX Wanderers) Stephen Hart's side may not have got three points from York on Saturday or garnered many headlines across the league but inside the 0-0 result were some very good individual performances. Jake Ruby, Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé, Jems Geffrard and debutant Alejandro Portal all came to close to making this team, but in the end midfielder Pierre Lamothe gets the selection after a very sensible and intelligent display at York Lions Stadium. No one gained possession more than the 24-year-old and he could have won the match for his team with a terrific shot that was denied by Nathan Ingham. An under-the-radar gem for the Wanderers. Alberto Soto (Atlético Ottawa) The Spanish maestro finished this week with one assist in two Canadian Premier League games, following a smart pass to Brian Wright on Vancouver Island Sunday, but he certainly could have had more had Wright and others been more efficient in front of goal at York four days earlier. Soto adapts his game well depending on the profile of the match and in two away games where his team struggled to maintain possession he understood that he wouldn't have as much time on the ball or as many touches with it than he has had in the past. With 52 touches at York and 53 at Pacific (both below his season average) he still managed to be the visitors' attacking talisman, operating between the lines well, and getting his forwards actively involved in the match.
ForwardsSebastian Gutierrez (York United) It was quite the week for the Colombian who in two home matches ticked a couple of key boxes, making his first start in the Canadian Premier League and scoring his first league goal. The 23-year-old entered the game against Ottawa in the second half and made an instant impact, playing in the number ten position previously occupied by Michael Petrasso, showing real directness and guile, and an eye for goal as he netted the crucial second goal in a 2-0 win. He was later rewarded with the start against Halifax and again provided a real attacking threat with a directness from a central position, leading to his side's best two chances, both hitting the woodwork, as he set up Max Ferrari to strike one off the near post and later himself saw a long-range strike bounce back towards goalkeeper Kieran Baskett. Easton Ongaro (FC Edmonton) It's now three goals in his last three games for the 23-year-old who scored his team's only tally in the 1-1 match against Pacific FC, what looked to be a match-winner until MacNaughton's late heroics. Alan Koch's FC Edmonton are a side still in transition and have made significant strides defensively this season and at times this has come at a cost for Ongaro whose scoring opportunities have been limited. Earlier in the season he looked anxious in front of goal and too eager to produce when such a moment came, however, he is now in the best form of the season and looks far more at ease when he produces calm finishes like the one he was rewarded with against Pacific.