When the calendar turns over for the year, everybody suddenly fancies themselves a master prognosticator and offers their predictions for the new year. We here at CanPL.ca are no different. Pre-season camps for the 2020 Canadian Premier League season are still months away from kicking off, and coaches haven’t even come close to finalizing their rosters for the upcoming campaign. But that hasn’t stopped us from rubbing our respective crystal balls in a vain attempt to predict what will transpire over the next 12 months in the Canadian Premier League. RELATED READING: Canadian soccer in 2019: A year in review || CPL in 2019: A team-by-team, year-end review With this in mind, the CanPL.ca team of John Molinaro, Armen Bedakian, Marty Thompson and Charlie O’Connor-Clarke offer their biggest predictions for the 2020 CPL season below. Make a note of our prognostications and pat us on the back when they come true, or throw tomatoes at us when we get it spectacularly wrong.
Bedakian: Pacific FC finds one or two players to run away with 2020 season

Well, maybe not run away, as this writer prematurely proclaimed last season. But, of all the bubble teams in the middle of the pack, Pacific FC continues to impress with a solid backbone and its off-field commitments to building soccer on Vancouver Island. A $5-million training facility will certainly be well-received on the Island, as it will also do wonders in attracting even more top talent from the region, which could come in handy when facing off against the Whitecaps for B.C.-based footballers. But, more than that, it’s a massive signal of long-term intent. So, who are these one or two players? Simply put, a new centre back pairing will do the trick. Pacific FC can score goals; players such as Terran Campbell, Ben Fisk, and Victor Blasco can be a force up top. Supplemented by young talent growing up together such as Alessandro Hojabrpour and Noah Verhoeven, as well as Zach Verhoven and Kadin Chung, this is a team that will only get better with each passing year. My prediction? Pacific FC enters the title race for 2020, challenging Cavalry FC and Forge as B.C. emerges in the Canadian Premier League’s battle for coast-to-coast supremacy.
Thompson: Tyler Attardo scores over 10 goals in 2019

He had the scoring touch through 2019 and it will only get better in 2020. Valour FC’s hometown hero Tyler Attardo will reach double-digit scoring next season. The Winnipegger came out of nowhere to score six goals across 20 mostly-limited appearances in 2019. But by September, the CPL community at large turned its attention to fellow young strikers Terran Campbell and Easton Ongaro. Thing is, Attardo is as skilled as those young attackers. His movement is top-notch, with many of his goals coming from a shifty move to lose his marker. He’s scored more goals with his head than Ongaro, a player that’s nearly half a foot taller than him, and he has looked a better finisher than Campbell. All this is to say he’s been underrated. At 18, Attardo is set to eat up quite a few of Valour’s under-21 minutes in 2020. Maybe those minutes will lead to goals?
O’Connor Clarke: York9 FC becomes the highest-scoring team in the league

If some teams’ trajectories in 2019 were up-and-down roller coasters, the Nine Stripes were (generally) on a steady upward curve. They started the year as a band of very unfamiliar teammates, with a very specific vision in mind. Jimmy Brennan wanted his side to play a build-up game with the ball on the ground, and nothing would change that. Despite stumbles throughout the year, York9 stayed the course. Slowly, but surely, they became the most reliable passing team in the league, usually commanding possession as well. The problem? They couldn’t score nearly as much as they needed. Their expected goals in 2019 was 43.35, with just 39 actually finding the net. That’s not too bad, but anyone watching a typical York9 game might agree that they, at times, lacked quality in the final third. If they can improve up front, whether it’s a consistently in-form Simon Adjei or a new face with finishing ability, they’ll be a scary team. I’m confident they can get there; just look at how clinical they were in their 4-0 win over Forge late in the season. Their midfield has become even more formidable with the addition of Chris Mannella. If York9 finds that final ball more consistently, they’ll fill the net on a nightly basis next year.
Molinaro: Forge wins the Canadian Championship

What can Forge FC do for an encore in 2020? How about becoming the first CPL team to win the Canadian Championship? Hear me out on this one. The core of Forge’s CPL Championship-winning team will be in place next season, thus allowing coach Bobby Smyrniotis to further strengthen what is already a formidable side. With this in mind, Forge stands poised, alongside Cavalry, to have the CPL’s best chance of hoisting the Voyagers Cup in 2020. The Hamilton-based club displayed its ability to successfully compete on multiple fronts this past season. They managed to make history by advancing to the round of 16 in the Concacaf League — nearly knocking off Honduran giants Olimpia along the way — while also fighting it out with Cavalry FC for the Fall season. Yes, Forge fell short in the title race, but they pushed Cavalry to the limit and showed they can simultaneously compete on multiple fronts. When you look at the 2020 Canadian Championship bracket, you’ll see that Forge have a clear path to the final. A win in their first-round match-up versus Valour would see them take on Cavalry in the quarter-finals. The top half of their side of the bracket means potential semifinal opponents include Pacific FC and FC Edmonton, as well as a Vancouver Whitecaps team that is in rebuilding mode. You have to like Forge's chances. I also think Forge will enter the 2020 Canadian Championship with a chip on their shoulders. After receiving a first-round bye in this year’s tournament, Forge bowed out in the second round after a disappointing road loss in the second leg of their series against the Cavs. Forge jumped to an early 1-0 lead before conceding on either side of the halftime break. It was a disappointing result for Forge, and you have to think that the memory of that will still bother them when they look to set things right in 2020.

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