With three honours on the ballot — the Allstate Good Hands Award for save of the year, Team of the Year, and Goal of the Year — fans have a chance to contribute to recognizing some of the accomplishments in Year 1 of the CPL.
This one went viral overnight. On a two-game winning streak after starting the Fall season with a home loss, Forge looked to be rolling again as they hosted Valour at Tim Hortons Field. They were already up 2-1 after first-half goals from Elimane Cisse and Emery Welshman, and they were sailing to a third straight win (which would lead into their 14-game unbeaten streak).
Kadell Thomas, though, made sure fans were rewarded for staying in their seats right to the end. He came off the bench late to replace an exhausted Tristan Borges, and he was trying to find an insurance marker for the home side. Seconds before this, though, he was issued a yellow card for time-wasting.
Redemption came four minutes into stoppage time, as Thomas picked the ball off a Valour defender who wasn’t quite paying enough attention. Thomas dribbled directly toward goal from the corner, making two defenders look completely foolish with deft touches at every turn. When it looked like he’d run out of space, and with goalkeeper Mathias Janssens closing him down and no pass options left, Thomas made the run even more magical.
How did he do it? Somehow, Thomas stroked the ball with the outside of his foot just enough to chip over Janssens and into the back of the net. It was wizardry, the likes of which we’d never seen in the CPL.
Manny Aparicio, York9 FC — vs. Pacific FC, July 17
(Video courtesy of OneSoccer)
If Kadell Thomas chose to dance around every defender, Manny Aparicio decided not to bother with them. Just three days before Thomas’ dazzler, Aparicio unleashed this ESPN SportsCenter-worthy screameragainst Pacific.
York9 was riding high, having beaten FC Edmonton a few days before and drawn with the Montreal Impact in Leg 1 of their Canadian Championship tie the previous week. With the score tied 20 minutes in, the home side’s captain found himself in space around the halfway mark. Seeing no passing options he liked, he engaged Pacific’s Alessandro Hojabrpour in a footrace through midfield.
After Aparicio outran his marker, with the ball at his feet, he turned goal-ward and in the blink of an eye he sent a rocket into the left side of the net. Aparicio barely saw it sail in before he’d ripped his shirt off in celebration. It earned him a yellow card, but also a place in SportCenter’s top 10 plays of the night. A worthy trade-off, no?
The goal, which Aparicio called “the best (he’d) ever scored,” turned out to be key in York9’s 2-1 win.
Marco Bustos, Valour FC — vs. Forge FC, June 15
(Video courtesy of OneSoccer)
The fastest goal in CPL history was the highlight of one of the league’s most exciting games. Forge kicked off, but just seven seconds in, Louis Béland-Goyette intercepted a pass to send things the other way.
After a few brief tussles in the middle, Béland-Goyette again won the ball and found Marco Bustos with a perfect pass at the corner of the box. Bustos stopped on a dime to create a pocket of space, and he swung it across the box to beat a diving Triston Henry and open the scoring.
Just like that, Bustos took the shine off of Forge’s Black and Gold match. Of course, it wouldn’t last forever; this match also saw a wild comeback in the final five minutes for the hosts, as they found a pair of goals to equalize and take the lead, ultimately holding on for three points.
Still, just for a moment, it felt like things were on the up for Valour, three days after their Canadian Championship loss to HFX Wanderers. It was a moment of magic in a season where those were at a premium for the Winnipeggers.