The Gatorade Team of the Week for the first weekend of the Canadian Premier League in 2021, presented by Kristian Jack and Oliver Platt from OneSoccer:
Dylon Powley (Atlético Ottawa)
It was the opening game of a new season, but for Dylon Powley it was much more than a fresh start. For Powley it was a game against his former team in which he had limited opportunities in the last two seasons. The 24-year-old was eager to make an impression and conceded a decisive goal for his new team. He delivered arguably the best stop of the opening weekend against Easton Ongaro from FC Edmonton with one Reflex safe on the right foot to keep the game goalless in the 64th minute. Powley’s work would be rewarded with a win when Viti Martinez scored with eight minutes left, and after the game you could see what it meant to him.
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Kadin Chung (Pacific FC)
One of the best full-backs in the league was in great shape on the opening weekend and contributed to a great overall performance for Pa-Modou Kah’s side. Chung has combined very well with Marco Bustos on the right side of the attack, making more passes (10) to the talisman than any other teammate, and that looks like one of the best combinations in the league by far. Chung had a pass accuracy of over 94%, completed 51 of 54 attempts, and produced two crucial interceptions against a lively Corey Bent, who was way out for Halifax.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Valor FC)
Stefan Cebara, who played outside of position alongside Jean-Baptiste, could easily have made it into the team after a great defensive performance from Rob Gale’s side, but the Haitian international wins the bid to organize and lead a back four against an impressive Forge attack , who welcomes 2019 Canadian Player of the Year, Tristan Borges, again. The 29-year-old led the team in clearance and was an enormous presence for a team that took the lead 2-0 and kept the reigning champions in check.
Drew Beckie (Atlético Ottawa)
The debuts couldn’t have gone better for Beckie, who led his team in tackles, open spaces and interceptions on the way to a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton. Beckie and his central defender Milovan Kapor were challenged by the stature of striker Tobias Warschewski, but thanks to a sovereign performance in the central defensive positions they went on the winning side. Atlético coach Mista praised Beckie and his lead in preparation and you could see these qualities on the pitch, where he felt just as comfortable in possession. When the opponent was deep, he was able to regularly connect with playmaker Rafael Núñez with passes in the left side channel, a relationship that could pose a threat to Atlético’s opponents.
Federico Peña (Valor FC)
One of the outstanding individual performances of the weekend was probably the international of Trinidad and Tobago, who started as a right-back after the injury of Brett Levis in the first half against Forge and switched to the left full-back. Peña, often used further up front, was needed in the back by Rob Gale and led the team with seven tackles and impressed from the start on the right flank against the fluidity, intelligence and movement of players like Borges, Kyle Bekker and Kwame Awuah.
Ollie Bassett (Pacific FC)
The England-born midfielder would have made it to the team even if he hadn’t scored one of the best goals of the opening weekend after a fantastic performance at the base of the Pacific midfield in a commanding 2-0 win over Halifax. His first-half goal, however, is an early contender for the best goal of the games in the Winnipeg bubble as he demonstrated excellent technique of reading the rebound and hitting the ball with the top of his foot. Always on the lookout for the ball and played more passes in the opposing half than any other player (38th). A great debut.
– CanPL (@CPLsoccer) June 27, 2021
Victor Martinez (Atlético Ottawa)
The 24-year-old great midfielder is a key member of the ‘M & M & M’ boys in midfield alongside Chris Mannella and Ben McKendry and put in an elegant performance in the opening game of the season which was crowned by a terrific curling shot through traffic with his left Walking to make sure his team secures all three points. In a close game in which Edmonton FC had its part, Martinez created a magical moment to realize that goalkeeper Connor James was not seeded after attempting to clear a ball and find the corner of the web for the first goal of the 2021 season.
José Escalante (Cavalry FC)
Welcome back to Canada, José! The Honduran winger made an immediate impact on his return to the Tommy Wheeldon Jr. squad by providing a glorious assist for Sergio Camargo’s header on 32 minutes and then scoring himself after driving Roger Thompson into a mistake that was taken by Escalante ricocheted off and went into York United’s net. The 26-year-old missed the 2020 season due to the pandemic but is returning to one of the most formidable attacks in the CPL, which he will have had a large part in this season.
Marco Bustos (Pacific FC)
Some CPL stars may need a few games to show all of their qualities after incoherent preparation, but Bustos started building his case for the best player of the season early Saturday with a great performance against Halifax. Bustos was in possession of the ball as usual, taking good care of the ball while penetrating the opponent with his one-on-one skills and intelligent movements. He’ll also be happy to open his points account to play in typical Bustos fashion with a smart run into the box and a clean finish.
Alejandro Diaz (Pacific FC)
The Mexican has real competition in the squad when it comes to taking the lead in a dynamic offensive team, but his profile currently seems ideally suited to getting the most out of the collective. The 25-year-old will continue to attract admirers for his selfless appearances every week and be a real reference point for the clever, shifting attack. Diaz held the ball up well, combined very well with Bustos and Josh Heard, and made it difficult for Halifax to score.
Austin Ricci (Valor FC)
“I just want respect for my players and hopefully that will change after this week,” said Valor boss Rob Gale after defeating Forge. Ricci celebrated his first goal with his fingers close to his ears. Whatever motivated the striker and his team definitely worked on the first weekend as the 25-year-old won a penalty in five minutes and finished a wonderful solo run with a clean left footer later in the first half. A week later, more respect has come and three players from Valor are on the Gatorade Team of the Week.