Final Score: Cavalry FC 1-1 FC Edmonton
Goalscorers: Luca 20′; Velado-Tsegaye 15′
Game of the 2021 season: 87
CPL match: 223
Match in a minute or less
A diving header from Richard Luca in the 20th minute cancelled out Marcus Velado-Tsegaye’s opening goal on Saturday, as the final AL Classico of the season ended 1-1 at ATCO Field in Calgary. Despite the exciting start to the match, the contest cooled down a bit in the second 45 minutes, with both sides bunkering down defensively to deny the other a victory.
Cavalry also lifted the 2021 Wild Rose Cup after the match, a reward for winning the 2021 season series against their Alberta rivals.
The Eddies heavily rotate the squad, but youngsters impress
FC Edmonton boss Alan Koch made nine changes to his side from their win over Pacific FC in midweek, only keeping Hunter Gorskie and Adam Najem in the starting eleven as he looked to rest some players during a busy part of their season.
Also needing to pick up some U21 minutes, Koch handed starts to youngsters Marcus Velado-Tsegaye, Antony Caceres, Darlington Murasiranwa and T-Boy Fayia. All played big parts in the match, with Fayia and Velado-Tsegaye in particular largely responsible for the opening goal.
After being released down the left wing, Fayia outran Mo Farsi — no small task — and crossed the ball into the box. After Marco Carducci pushed the ball off of Eddies attacker Matthew Durrans, Velado-Tsegaye was in the right spot at the right time, and made no mistake with an easy tap in.
“It was immense,” said Fayia after the match. “Just to play in this derby, we know how important it is to us as Edmontonians. As youngsters growing up, you always want to play in these big games, so it meant a lot for all of us. We had to prove something for us, and the team, so it was good.”
Starting at left back, Fayia had a very strong match on Saturday in particular, on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he led The Eddies in tackles with five, and shared the team lead for interceptions with three. Offensively, it was his burst of pace that helped set up the opening strike.
“We wanted to, and we needed to,” said head coach Alan Koch about getting his young players some valuable minutes. “We’ve had almost every single one of our U21 players [out injured]. Starting with Tomas Giraldo who got injured before we even started the season, Marcus (Velado-Tsegaye) has been injured, we had to send T-Boy back from the bubble because he was injured, Tony Caceres has been injured.
“We’re quite far behind in terms of U21 minutes. Having said that, a positive byproduct of that is we had an opportunity today where we needed to play the guys, and these are the games you want to put young players in. We played five U21 Edmontonians (also bringing Prince Amanda off the bench in the second half) in the derby. That’s great for development for our young kids, but it’s also great for kids from Edmonton, to come to play against Calgary, and relish a little bit of that derby.”
Fisk and Luca impress on wings, but Cavalry attackers didn’t make most of opportunities
Ben Fisk and Richard Luca started the match on either side of the attack and were both important to Cavalry’s offensive output on Saturday afternoon.
Fisk picked up his team-leading fourth assist of the campaign against Edmonton, making a good run down the left side of the pitch and floating a cross toward the back post. Luca made a move to that area, and dived to head his first CPL goal past Eddies goalkeeper Darlington Murasiranwa to tie the game.
Both were making things happen in this match, each firing in crosses, and Fisk leading Cavalry in attempted passes in the opposition half. Cavalry were slightly disappointed with only producing the one goal, according to head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. but there’s certainly room there for them to grow and continue to improve as an attacking unit.
On many occasions this season, Cavalry have created more chances than their opponents — thirteen shots to Edmonton’s eight on Saturday, for example — but they’ve struggled at times to make the most of them. Missing a talented striker like Joe Mason through injury — possibly the best finisher in the CPL — doesn’t do them any favours in that regard.
“The boys are giving everything they’ve got, that I can’t complain with,” said Wheeldon Jr. after the match. “It’s clear that Joe Mason is a difference-maker. With Joe Mason in the team, we win that game. He’s like all clinical strikers, right place at the right time.
“We’ve got other goalscorers like Ali Musse, Ahinga Selemani, and Oliver Minatel who haven’t played in a long time, but we’re still finding ways to be in that top four race. Absolutely we need to do better, and the guys who are playing need to find a way. Having said that, Ben Fisk has got his third or fourth assist of the season, young Richard Luca was smashing today, and we’ve just got to get him more and more match fit, but it’ll come.”
Temguia-Gorskie partnership strong at centre-back
With Amer Didic being given the afternoon off, never coming off the bench in this one, Alan Koch started Mélé Temguia and Hunter Gorskie in the middle of his backline, and the duo put in a big performance on Saturday afternoon. They didn’t let Cavalry striker Anthony Novak anywhere near the ball, with Novak winning just one of his nine duels and only getting one shot.
Playing out of the back often on Saturday, Gorskie led his team with 33 successful passes, 52 touches, and three clearances. He also won both of his aerial duels in a strong defensive effort for the man wearing the captain’s armband.
Temguia tied with T-Boy Fayia for the team lead with three interceptions, and also added two tackles and two clearances. The centre-back duo were tied with each other for the team lead with a pair of blocked shots each.
Amer Didic has had a very good season in 2021, and has been a pillar of the team for three seasons now, but this match was proof that Alan Koch can give him a night off without worrying too much about his side’s defensive solidity.
“I thought they played well,” said Koch after the match. “A little bit disappointed collectively, I think we sagged a little bit too much and allowed Cavalry to have a bit more of the ball that we would’ve liked. Having said that, you can see all over the pitch, we rotated players today.
“We joked about it this morning with our staff — 14 days ago we were in Halifax, last weekend we were in Winnipeg, today we’re in Calgary, next weekend we’re in Toronto, and the following weekend we’re in Victoria again. It’s a crazy schedule for us, I know it’s a crazy schedule for every team, but we have to take care of our players physically and mentally.”
“We rotated a lot of players today, and I was happy with the players that haven’t played that much, how they embraced the challenge, and I think Mélé and Hunter did a very good job of leading the backline for us,” Koch added.
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
T-Boy Fayia, FC Edmonton
The young defender was a standout for FC Edmonton at left back on Saturday, putting in a shift defensively and contributing to the opening goal in the match.
Cavalry take on York United at ATCO Field on Thursday, October 14 (7:00pm MT/ 9:00pm ET). FC Edmonton head back home and play Atletico Ottawa at home on Tuesday, October 12 (7:00pm MT/ 9:00pm ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.