Will Forge regain their Canadian Premier League title or can Cavalry claim CPL glory in 2022?
Who do Bettors Favor?
At this early stage of the season there isn’t much activity on the CPL at the best online sportsbooks but we can expect Forge to be favorites to win back their title in the season ahead, though Pacific will likely be closely matched with them in the betting markets. You are also likely to see some support from bettors for Cavalry, who finished ahead of the eventual winners Pacific in last year’s table.
What Happened Last Season?
The winner of the 2019 and 2020 CPL titles, Forge topped the regular-season table in 2021, despite losing their last two games. They progressed smoothly to the final, beating York United in the semi-final but suffered a surprise defeat to Pacific, who had finished five points behind them in the league. That CPL win was all the more remarkable given that Pacific had lost six of their last nine regular-season matches.
Valour and HFX finished just outside the top four, only a point behind York United, while at the bottom, Edmonton narrowly avoided finishing last in the table thanks to a final day shock win over Forge, consigning Atletico Ottowa to the CPL basement.
Betting on the CPL Favorites
Pacific’s title-winning campaign was built around a dynamic brand of offensive soccer. Thanks mainly to the exploits of Terran Campbell and Alejandro Diaz, they outscored their main rivals, Forge by eight goals.
Coach Pa-Modou Kah was named the 2021 CPL Coach of the Year but his departure to join MLS Next Pro franchise North Texas SC was a blow. This season, Pacific will be led by former assistant James Merriman but given his inexperience as a head coach, there have to be some doubts about whether the team will be able to defend their title.
Another problem for Pacific is the departure of highly-rated playmaker Alessandro Hojabrpour, the Best Under 21 Canadian Player of the Year in 2021. His departure undoubtedly makes Pacific weaker, but the loss is compounded by the fact that he has moved over to CPL rivals Forge.
The two-time champions will once again be the main contenders in the CPL. The team led by Bobby Smyrniotis won the first two championships and has finished first in the standings for the past two seasons. Last season, the Hammers finished top in the rankings after winning 16 of their 28 regular-season games. Despite the fact that second-place Cavalry had the same number of points as Smyrniotis’ men, Smyrniotis’ men took first place due to their better goal difference. The Ontarians also finished with the best defensive record in the league while ending up as second-highest scorers. That suggests they have a strong foundation on which to build another title challenge.
Both Forge and Pacific will have plenty of support from bettors this season but if you’re looking for a strong alternative, Cavalry could be the answer. Although they have yet to win the championship, three consecutive top-three results, including one first-place finish, is an excellent record of consistency.
Cavalry has one of the top players in the league in Joe Mason. After nearly 200 games in the English Championship, the former Ireland U21 international scored seven goals in his first season in the CPL. Other notable members of the Calgary club include winger Ben Fisk and goalie Marco Carducci. The Cavs could win their first CPL title in 2022 if all their key players stay consistent throughout the season.
Betting on the CPL Underdogs
Finding a potential upset among the underdogs in the CPL is tricky, as the top three are likely once again to dominate the league table. The most likely of those further down in the betting to spring a surprise is York United. The Nine Stripes have made it to the top four in each of the three seasons of the CPL so far, and that level of consistency suggests that they aren’t too far away from being contenders.
Unfortunately for fans of the Toronto-based team, last year was probably their worst campaign so far. They combined a chronic tie problem with the third-worst defensive record in the CPL, which suggests that they are regressing rather than improving.
Valour and HFX both finished one point outside the top four last time round and have the potential to improve again this season. Phillip Dos Santos seemed to encourage an improvement when he took over at Valour halfway through last season while Stephen Hart’s HFX team will hope for another stellar season from 2021 Player of the Year Joao Morelli. Both teams could be interesting outside wagers although cautious bettors will want to see how they start the season before committing.