What a week of Canadian soccer action! A trio of Canadian Championship matches on Wednesday, coupled with a weekend packed with upsets and drama produced a wild week of soccer across the country, as Cavalry FC emerged from the rubble triumphant, having defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 at BC Place. There's a lot to unpack this week, so let's get to it, shall we?
7. The Fall season is wide open

Before we jump into the Canadian Championship stuff, let's take a moment to talk about the weekend's regular season results: Cavalry and Forge looked set to take narrow wins over Valour and FC Edmonton, respectively, only to be denied late on by the home sides to split points at the final whistle. While Valour may have stopped Cavalry's Fall season stampede in its tracks, FC Edmonton will be particularly pleased with their efforts, having denied Forge with a peach of an equalizer late on after a cagey affair at Clarke Field. Both matches ended in 1-1 draws, but as our Steven Sandor points out, these 1-1 draws may very well prove crucial as the Fall title race continues, with both Forge and Cavalry remaining within one point of York9, and within a two-game margin for Edmonton. The Fall season is by no means over and done with, even if the picture was a little clearer around this time during the Spring.
6. It's a new benchmark

The number 6, that is. That's how many goals York9 managed to score against HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday, as the Nine Stripes decimated their depleted visitors 6-2 to record the single largest win in the CPL history (so far). It's a far cry from the 331-minute scoring drought York9 endured going into July ... but this month has been significantly kinder to Jimmy Brennan's attacking ranks, as they've registered 15 goals since Canada Day, more than any other side has scored in that time. Special shoutouts must go to Ryan Telfer and Rodrigo Gattas, who have lead their team in scoring, especially on Saturday as Gattas recorded the first hat-trick in CPL history, too.
5. Oh, those pesky penalties

Okay – onto Canadian Championship hot takes. Before we dive into Cavalry's incredible victory, let's examine what went right (and, ultimately, wrong) for HFX Wanderers and York9. Having travelled over 10,000 km in recent weeks, the away-day grind seemed to catch up to the Wanderers, who succumbed to a 2-2 draw against the Ottawa Fury in Leg 2, thus ending their CanChamp dreams 5-4 on aggregate. While the result isn't ideal, Hart can take solace knowing his team gave a concrete effort, and were even up by the required 2-0 scoreline at one point, giving hope to the idea of a second-leg turnaround. Alas, it was not meant to be. Meanwhile, York9 went toe-to-toe with a full-strength Montreal Impact once again at Stade Saputo, having earned a 2-2 draw in the first leg at York Lions Stadium. Ignacio Piatti scored his penalty to give the Impact a 1-0 lead, and that's all she wrote for the Nine Stripes – a loss from the spot, which, cruelly, also denied York9 a victory at home, as Nathan Ingham conceded a last-second penalty to bring Montreal back into the first leg, too. Related: York9 éliminé après une défaite lors du match reçut a Montreal If we're playing woulda-coulda-shoulda, then you could perhaps look at that conceded penalty at home as the turning point for Y9. If Ingham stays on his line, maybe the attack fizzles out; maybe York9 takes a 2-1 lead into Stade Saputo; maybe Piatti's penalty is all the Impact can muster, and the Impact win on away goals; maybe Telfer finds the back of an open net this time; or, maybe, the entire complexion of the 2nd leg changes, and York9 claws out another win. It's all hypothetical now, but one thing is certain – for a pair of clubs just three months into existence, these performances against more seasoned outfits were more than impressive.
4. The four things that went right for Cavalry FC

Cavalry FC's incredible victory over MLS outfit Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday could just be one of the season's most-talked-about moments. "Heart of lions," is how head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. described his team. That's certainly a factor, as Cavalry showed plenty of character to earn a historic result. But we figure these four things helped put Cavalry over the edge: Firstly, the Cavs had team chemistry out the wazoo, manifesting itself through combination plays and a spirit of fighting for one another that other CPL outfits may not have in equal measure. The fact is, the Whitecaps may have squared off against a club just three months old, but this team is much older than that, and used their championship-winning spirit from the PDL to overcome these obstacles. Secondly? The Whitecaps are in dire straits. There's no denying it, no sugarcoating it; Cavalry caught the Whitecaps at a bad moment. Whether or not we praise the Cavs for their goal-scoring, or their defending, the fact is that the Whitecaps of 2019 are by no means the Whitecaps of yesteryear, when Camilo and Eric Hassli and Fredy Montero were tearing it up in MLS. That brings us to No. 3 on this list: This Cavalry team, built from many, many former Whitecaps players, whether via the academy, B-team, or senior ranks, had a point to prove, and prove it they did. That extra bit of motivation proved valuable, making each duel that much more important for defenders like Mason Trafford and Dominick Zator, and each save that much more satisfying for Marco Carducci. Finally, No. 4 – Cavalry has had a "team of destiny" vibe about them all season. It's how they captured the Spring title going nearly undefeated, how they took the edge in Al Classico, and how they overcame each and every obstacle and challenge the Whitecaps threw at them. After defeating the Caps, you can't help but think Cavalry is riding high on confidence by now. With a spot booked in the 2019 CPL Championship, and a Semi-Final now coming up against the Montreal Impact in Voyageurs Cup play, could Cavalry continue writing this story all the way to a first-year double?
3. Forge prepares to switch tracks

Back to our regularly scheduled programming – but not really. Forge FC has had to postpone a pair of league fixtures, the result of their qualification into the CONCACAF League, where Guatemalan outfit Antigua GFC now awaits on Aug. 1 at Tim Hortons Field. Having conceded late in a 1-1 draw against the Eddies, head coach Bobby Smyrniotis said: "This wasn't our best game. It wasn’t indicative of the way we play and the way we want to go about things," and that's certainly fair. But CONCACAF is a different beast than regular season play, and Forge must be prepared to overcome atmosphere and ... a more cynical play style, especially during the reverse leg in Guatemala on Aug. 8.
2. Can we talk about ...

... Cavalry goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos? Amid the abundance of riches at Cavalry FC, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. can also boast a pair of promising goalkeepers, giving him something of a luxury between the sticks that other managers – perhaps Stephen Hart? – can't quite replicate. The Greek-Canadian goalkeeper stepped up big against Valour over the weekend, filling in for Carducci, who himself has turned heads all season. But, with Giantsopoulos throwing his rather difficult-to-spell last name into the ring, does Wheeldon Jr. now have a selection headache?
1. Your photo of the week

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