The Gatorade Team of the Week for the eighth week of the Canadian Premier League action in 2021, brought to you by OneSoccer's Oliver Platt.
GoalkeeperMatt Silva (Valour FC) It's not easy to step in and start as a goalkeeper after going several weeks without action, but Silva was able to do that very well midweek against FC Edmonton -- just his second appearance of the 2021 CPL campaign. Silva made four saves and two catches against the Eddies, also winning a battle in the air. A solid all-around performance from Silva to help an exhausted Valour side keep a clean sheet.
Right BackMo Farsi (Cavalry FC) Farsi slots in perfectly here as a right wingback alongside a back three in our Team of the Week, considering how well he's done in that exact position for Cavalry the past couple games. His pace along the touchline continues to dazzle, as does his ability to beat defenders in one-on-one situations. This is Farsi's second consecutive appearance in the Gatorade Team of the Week, having continued his good form on Wednesday in an ultimately fruitless 0-0 draw with Pacific. Farsi made four key passes in that game and led the Cavs with five crosses and 87 touches, but unfortunately his side didn't manage to convert any of their chances.
Centre BackDrew Beckie (Atlético Ottawa) Beckie got credit for the assist on Ottawa's first-ever home goal, beating his man in the air to get his head on a lobbed corner and set it up for Malcolm Shaw to score. Playing at right-back for Atleti in their home opener, Beckie was excellent on both sides of the ball in perhaps the strongest performance this club has produced yet this season. Though much of the attacking play came along the opposite left flank, Beckie was instrumental in Ottawa's dominant possession play, and he was just about unbeatable defensively, matching up frequently against a motivated Stefan Karajovanovic. Amer Didic (FC Edmonton) Didic has been a rock in the middle of Edmonton's defence all season, and Thursday night against Valour was absolutely no exception. He made three tackles, four interceptions, and a stunning 10 clearances to help the Eddies keep their clean sheet at home. The 6'4" Didic is almost unbeatable in the air, and his defensive positioning is excellent. He's also one of the best in the CPL at picking out passes, whether they're short possession-keeping moves into midfield or long diagonal switches of play to locate space for attackers. Karifa Yao (Cavalry FC) Whether playing on the left side of a back three, or as an out-and-out fullback, Yao has been a revelation for Cavalry. He's a physically imposing presence in defence who can very effectively mark top players out of the game -- which he did to Pacific's Marco Bustos midweek in a 0-0 draw. Yao made four clearances and three interceptions in that game, but perhaps more importantly he seemed glued to Pacific's star talisman for all 90 minutes, which might be the most difficult assignment in the CPL. Although this list doesn't take other competitions into account, Yao was excellent again on Sunday in the Canadian Championship, doing a similarly tremendous job marking Edmonton's Easton Ongaro.
Left BackKadin Chung (Pacific FC) He's in this Team of the Week on his opposite wing, but Chung looked good in a 0-0 draw with Cavalry on Wednesday. He made three key passes and found targets with a handful of strong crosses in from the right, and he did a lot of defensive work too. With Bustos marked so well by Yao, Chung wasn't quite able to combine with his teammate as well as he would've liked, but he looked good when taking the ball himself around the outside and looking to play in the cutback.
Central MidfieldBen McKendry (Atlético Ottawa) Ottawa's two-man midfield pairing of McKendry and Alberto Soto is preserved in the Gatorade Team of the Week, such was their dominance against HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday. McKendry finished the game with a sparkling 94.8% pass accuracy and three key passes, leading his team with 102 touches on the afternoon. Playing as Atlético's deepest-lying midfielder, McKendry covered a lot of ground at TD Place, taking full control of the 20 yards or so on either side of the centre line. He also had an important role in Ottawa's first goal, delivering a good corner kick that ended up in the net via Malcolm Shaw. McKendry did a lot of work to start out Ottawa's attacks, acting as a phenomenal link between the defenders and the more advanced players -- including the next man in this list. Alberto Soto (Atlético Ottawa) Soto, with Ottawa on loan from parent club Atlético de Madrid, was one of the most highly-touted newcomers to the CPL this year. He's only been able to play a handful of games so far due to some issues getting his transfer cleared in July, but on Saturday he at last showed real glimpses of how big an impact he could have in this league. Playing in a deeper, more central role than he has in previous contests, Soto worked very well alongside McKendry. His quality was on full display in the 87th minute, when he picked up the ball in midfield and played a glorious chipped pass over the top for Brian Wright to score Ottawa's game-winning goal. Soto also made six tackles, demonstrating his strong ball-winning ability in central midfield.
ForwardsBrian Wright (Atlético Ottawa) Speaking of that game-winning goal... Wright is a player Atlético Ottawa has been quite excited to see make an impact, but his minutes have been limited due to injuries in the early stages of the season. Given an opportunity for the final 20 minutes of Ottawa's home opener, Wright made the most of it. He only had nine touches of the ball, but he ended up contesting eight duels as he looked to run at the HFX defenders with every chance he got. He did well to read Soto's ball over the top, and the way he was able to hold off his defender and score a difficult finish with a bouncing ball was very impressive. Malcolm Shaw (Atlético Ottawa) The man who was replaced by Wright in the 71st minute had a very good afternoon in his own right. Shaw's header to score the first Ottawa goal was more difficult than it perhaps looked at first, needing to lean back and head it across his body. Aside from that moment -- a huge one for his club's history -- Shaw was good in this game as a target man, looking to cause trouble for the Wanderers' centre-backs in the box and combining well with the wide players when drifting, often toward the left flank. José Hernández (Cavalry FC) It felt like Hernández was destined to score on Wednesday against his former club Pacific. Though it wasn't to be on that day, Hernández was the most active and noticeable part of Cavalry's attack in the 0-0 draw. He had six of the Cavs' nine shots in the game, winning a stunning 10 out of 13 duels. The Edmonton-born forward seemed to cover ground in all three attacking positions, showing a real hunger to track down the ball and score his goal. Perhaps a couple of those shots could've been laid off to someone in slightly better position, but nonetheless Hernández came close to breaking the deadlock on more occasions than anybody else, and it feels like he's certain to find the net soon.