Fans of the HFX Wanderers were able to watch the team in one large group for the first time this season on Saturday.
The Canadian Premier League has been playing in a COVID-19 bubble on Prince Edward Island for the past month after a delayed start to the season from the coronavirus pandemic.
But the bubble has meant that fans haven’t had the ability to come together and watch their favourite soccer team.
That changed on Saturday as the Wanderers organization hosted a fan watch party at the team’s home ground in Halifax.
Approximately 400 people were in attendance, spread out throughout the Wanderers Grounds in their own mini-bubbles.
“Last year the biggest joy we had was bringing fans into the grounds and having that shared experience of being at an event,” said HFX Wanderers president Derek Martin.
“As much as it is awesome to be playing in P.E.I. and our fans being able to watch, I think everybody has missed that chance to listen to the other fans and hear them yell and scream.”
The Wanderers faithful had every reason to celebrate as the team picked up three points in this round-robin phase of the Canadian Premier League‘s truncated season, which the league has dubbed the Island Games.
Four teams remain in the group stage with the top two teams advancing to the championship final on Sept. 17.
HFX beat Cavalry FC 2-1 on Saturday, with Akeem Garcia opening up the scoring in the 12th minute.
Garcia capitalized on a penalty that came after Cavalry’s Jonathan Wheeldon receive a second yellow card for a nasty challenge in the box.
Fans at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax exploded into cheers as Garcia slid the ball into the net.
The Calgary-based side was put on the defensive throughout the first half after being brought down to 10 men.
The Wanderers’ Jao Morelli Neto made the day even better for the fans in Halifax as he scored from another penalty shortly before half-time.
Cavalry FC was able to get a consolation goal in the 80th minute with Jair Ayrton Cordova Carpio scoring the team’s lone goal.
The win puts the Wanderers in second place and in control of their own destiny as they head into a match on Tuesday against Pacific FC.
The Victoria-based team has already been eliminated from moving onto the championship final.
Cavalry will need to duke it out with Hamilton’s Forge FC in their final game of the round.
The final games are scheduled to be played on Tuesday.
Whichever team wins the championship next week will play the top Canadian team in Major League Soccer in the second phase of its return-to-play plan in the Canadian Championship.
The Voyageurs Trophy and a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League will be on the line in the Canadian Championship.
With files from The Canadian Press