This is the first Wednesday Wonders to be published on July 31 in Canadian Premier League history! Alright, that's far from the most thrilling stat you'll read today, or any day. But if you're part of my extremely knowledgeable and good-looking Twitter following, you'll know that I'm always on the lookout for CPL firsts. And hoo boy, did we ever add to that list this week! What will be the next big "first in CPL history"? In the past week, we've seen the first win by a CPL club over MLS opposition (Cavalry FC getting past the Vancouver Whitecaps in Canadian Championship play) as well as the first legit blow-out in CPL league play (York9 FC's 6-2 win over HFX Wanderers), which featured the first-ever hat trick, courtesy of Rodrigo Gattas. And it was only two weeks ago that we saw Tristan Borges connect for the first "Olimpico" goal in league history. So, now that a lot of the really big "firsts" have already been covered, I wonder when we'll starting seeing things like:
  • The first player to score a goal while sitting on a yellow card who forgets he's on a yellow, celebrates by removing his shirt and subsequently gets sent off in CPL history
  • The first bicycle-kick goal in CPL history
  • The first bicycle-kick own goal in CPL history
  • The first player to mumble while calling the coin toss, creating confusion for the referee and a big hubbub of controversy in CPL history
  • The first player to instinctively make the VAR hand signal to argue a call before remembering the league doesn't use video review in CPL history
Could Cavalry FC win the Voyageurs Cup? Given the UV rays this time of year, it's advisable to wear shades; and yes, after Cavalry's triumph over the admittedly woeful Whitecaps, mine are certainly rose-coloured at the moment. Even so, is it totally outlandish to think the Cavs could pull off the seemingly impossible in their first year of existence? Their semi-final opponent is the Montreal Impact, who nudged past York9 in the previous round with partial assistance from a technically-correct-under-the-new-LOTG-but-still-ugh penalty-kick decision in the second leg. Considering how close their CPL counterparts came to knocking off the Impact, it's unlikely Tommy Wheeldon Jr.'s crew will be quaking in their boots at this matchup. For the purposes of not totally jinxing things, I won't endeavour to look any farther down the road—but the positive performances from Y9 and HFX Wanderers demonstrated that the Cavs' success wasn't some isolated aberration. Speaking of which… Will Forge FC get a boost from Voyageurs Cup play? Although the solid showings against non-CPL teams by their three CPL counterparts won't have any direct effect on Forge's performance in CONCACAF League action, the presence of some generalized league-wide positivity certainly won't hurt. My colleague Armen Bedakian has us covered on the "uh, who exactly is Antigua GFC?" front, as it relates to Forge's Guatemalan opposition, but truth be told, I can't help but fear the worst whenever a Central American side is involved. That's likely due to scarring from the men's national team's trials and tribulations in the region, even though Canadian club teams have actually fared decently against Central American sides in CONCACAF Champions League play. The last time a Canadian side met a Guatemalan side, in the 2013-14 tournament, the Montreal Impact fell 1-0 to Heredia in Guatemala City before notching a 2-0 home win. That was part of group-stage play, but had it been a two-legged affair, the Impact would have advanced. Over the past decade, Canadian clubs have also picked up wins in Honduras and El Salvador—and while the difficulties of travel, weather conditions and hostile crowds are real, Central American stadiums aren't the impenetrable fortresses that some of us have made them out to be. Of course, Forge has the home leg first—on Thursday night, at Tim Hortons Field. Let's see if the league-wide warm-and-fuzzies can propel them to an early advantage.

Continue reading...