Final Score: FC Edmonton 2-1 Pacific FC
Goalscorers: Gonzalez 30′, Ongaro 38′; Hojabrpour 48′
Game of the 2021 season: 86
CPL match: 221
Match in a minute or less
FC Edmonton hosted Pacific FC at Clarke Stadium on Wednesday evening and a thrilling contest saw the hosts hold on to all three points after a 2-1 win. Quick-fire goals from Azriel Gonzalez and Easton Ongaro set the hosts on course for victory and while Alessandro Hojabrpour’s thunderstrike put Pacific back in contention, the visitors couldn’t pull off the comeback.
Chances taken vs. opportunities wasted
There were chances aplenty at Clarke Stadium as both FC Edmonton and Pacific FC continuously sent their attacking lines forward. Fuelled with momentum and a desire to upset the league leaders, the hosts were lively in the opening 45 minutes with an in-form Easton Ongaro as their main threat. Alongside the team’s leading scorer, Tobias Warschewski and Azriel Gonzalez also caused problems. But when it comes down to it, as the opportunities fell in front of FC Edmonton, they took them.
Meanwhile, despite being one of the most offensive teams in the Canadian Premier League, it was a mediocre display from Pa-Modou Kah’s side knowing how they have performed in the past. It was a bit surprising to not see them open the scoring. Instead, they were 2-0 down at the break, halfway towards the possibility of not finding the back of the net for the first time since early August. While Alessandro Hojabrpour managed to pull one back for the hosts the visitors saw a plethora of opportunities go wasted. Terran Campbell, in particular, missed multiple chances to be the hero.
As a result, this match was a story of chances taken versus opportunities wasted – something Kah addressed after the match. “In the first half we definitely dug ourselves a hole … Second half, I think we had the upper hand but again we didn’t take our chances,” he said. “[FC Edmonton] were ruthless when they needed to be, we were not ruthless. Football, that’s what it is.” Goalscorer Hojabrpour also went on to discuss the team’s disappointment. “I don’t think at the end of this game we will be happy with our performance, but it’s a learning point in the season,” said Hojabrpour. “We let ourselves down in the first half.”
‘Resilient’ defensive performance from FC Edmonton
They say strong defensive performances win soccer games and that proverb came to life on Wednesday night in Edmonton. Throughout the entire 90 minutes, coach Alan Koch’s side played as a determined group, constantly anticipating Pacific’s next move and shifting their formation as a unit to prevent any potential attack. With goalkeeper Connor James leading the way, FC Edmonton were put to work against their opponents but stood strong to hold on for the win. Defenders Paris Gee, Ramón Soria, Amer Didic and Fraser Aird were always on high alert to stifle any looming threat from Pacific and the midfielders and forwards jumped in when needed. FC Edmonton’s ability to defend as a group was a key component to pulling off the upset.
Resilient, determined and intelligent were three adjectives Koch used to describe his team’s performance after the match. “I think the guys went and did exactly what we needed them to do and made it very difficult for Pacific to play,” he said. “We kind of wilted a little bit in the second 45 minutes and a big part of that was [because] we exerted ourselves a lot in the first 45 minutes. But then we showed the determination [and] also the resilience to hang on and manage the game very well to get the three points.” When asked to sum up the performance in one word, Koch said “proud.”
Welcome to the show!
What a 90 minutes of soccer that was at Clarke Stadium. Despite being one of the later matches in the calendar, this tie between FC Edmonton and Pacific FC was pure entertainment from start to finish. You would have never guessed either side was nearing the end of the season with the intensity displayed on the pitch.
There was a goal of the season contender, lighting quick counterattacks, last-minute blocks, shots hitting off the woodwork and chances going inches wide. Then neither FC Edmonton nor Pacific seemed to tire, giving it their all until the final whistle. Yellow cards were flying, a ball was kicked directly at the referee, attempts for last-minute equalizers fell just short and viewers were left biting their nails to see whether Pacific would crawl their way back into the match or if FC Edmonton would hold on.
Regardless if you are a supporter of these teams, a neutral, newly introduced to the game or a long-time soccer fan, this clash kept everyone on their toes. And with the playoffs creeping closer, it’s just a subtle reminder of what is still to come.
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Connor James, FC Edmonton
After making his return to the starting lineup, goalkeeper Connor James made a name for himself yet again. He finished with two saves and three clearances which helped keep his team in the game.
After the match, Koch labelled James’ performance “top-class.” “He’s one of the best goalkeepers in the league,” he said. “It’s nice to see him get rewarded and get the victory.”
FC Edmonton travel to Calgary for a clash against Cavalry FC on October 9 (4 pm ET/2 pm MT). Pacific FC continues moving East as they head to Halifax for a match against HFX Wanderers on October 11 (1 pm ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.