May 4, 2019; Foothills County, Alberta, Canada; Cavalry FC defender Dominick Zator (4) celebrate goal with teammates against the York9 FC during the second half during a Canadian Premier League soccer match at Spruce Meadows. Cavalry FC won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
3 key battles in Forge vs. Pacific and Cavalry vs. Valour
Forge FC and Cavalry FC return to their respective home turfs on Wednesday night, with the Hamilton-based outfit hosting Pacific FC at Tim Hortons Field (7:00 p.m. ET/OneSoccer), before the Cavs take on visiting Valour FC at Spruce Meadows (9:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. MT/OneSoccer), and you can be sure that each of these four teams will be hungry to take three points out of their matchups as the Spring portion of the 2019 CPL season heads into its third round of action.
Here are three key battles to watch for from Forge vs. Pacific and Cavalry vs. Valour:
Forge’s front three vs. Pacific’s makeshift backline
Kadell Thomas leads the league in scoring, Chris Nanco has been a handful and a half out wide, and Emery Welshman is hungry to capitalize on the numerous chances he’s sniffed in front of goal, giving Forge FC’s front three a degree of danger that Pacific head coach Michael Silberbauer will need to be wary of heading into Tim Hortons Field.
Without the red-carded Lukas MacNaughton and defensive stalwart Hendrik Starostzik – who was absent against Valour FC at Westhills Stadium last week – the Pacific backline made do using a combination of Ryan McCurdy and Emile Legault, who filled in admirably enough, albeit without the end-product needed to truly assuage any of Silberbauer’s defensive fears. We will most likely see MacNaughton return to the starting lineup, and his height and physicality will certainly be welcome, but will Starostzik return from his knock, too?
If he does, you can be sure he’ll offer the exact sort of resilience in the backline needed to deal with wiley attackers like Welshman and Nanco, who will need to be even more direct in the absence of Kyle Bekker, to suspension. Meanwhile, Kadin Chung would do well to keep a close eye on Thomas, who has a goal in each of his two games for Forge this season. Chung has been spritely on the front-foot, but might want to drop a bit deeper in this one to avoid giving Thomas the luxury of space he has been afforded far too frequently so far.
Louis Béland-Goyette vs. Everybody
So much of Valour’s successful link-up play can be attributed to the anchoring presence of Louis Béland-Goyette, who’s ability to turn on a dime and find a long or short pass instinctually cannot be overstated – having a player of that sort in the centre of midfield is a huge advantage for Valour FC.
However, surrounded by the likes of Nik Ledgerwood, Elijah Adekugbe and, possibly, Sergio Camargo, Béland-Goyette will need to be even quicker, even more deft in his turns, flicks, and touches, while keeping in mind that he’ll have a job on his hand closing down Jordan Brown and Dominque Malonga’s synchronous runs in transition.
Luckily, Marco Bustos’ acquisition gives Valour FC yet another dangerous weapon for Béland-Goyette to bounce off of, and, thusly, another player that the Cavs’ midfield will need to be aware of, perhaps levelling out the potential for a total shut down of this supply route in Rob Gale’s outfit. How Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and his team neutralize Béland-Goyette in the middle of the park could determine the balance of this particular tilt.
Ben Fisk vs. Elimane Cisse
If there’s one lesson that Pacific FC’s Ben Fisk can take out of watching Forge’s previous match against HFX Wanderers FC, it’s that there’s plenty of room to attack down the centre-left portion of attacking midfield … and not quite as much from the middle of the park going right, due, mostly, to the commanding presence of defensive midfielder Elimane Cisse.
Case in point? Most of HFX attacking midfielder Kodai Iida’s successful passes and dribbling attempts came when squaring off against Daniel Krutzen’s zone in midfield, leaving something of a dead zone in the Wanderers’ attack on their right-hand size. That’s Cisse territory, folks.
The Senegalese enforcer lead the match with 11 possession recoveries, as well as three interceptions and one excellent, attack-ending tackle, most coming from within this zone of play, circled above. It partly explains why Iida didn’t find many successful routes, though part of that explanation comes down to the Wanderers’ shape in the match, too.
Cisse’s contributions are still worthy of note, though he’s not infallible – Cisse was well out of position when Luis Alberto Perea scored against the run of play – so Fisk has a choice to make: Take on and beat Cisse in this particular zone of play, or try his luck out wider against full-backs like Giuliano Frano or Kwame Awuah. Whatever he chooses, it’s unlikely he’ll find too much success on his own as Iida attempted, so working in tandem alongside Noah Verhoeven could be the secret to unlocking Forge here.