Final Score: FC Edmonton 3-3 Valour FC
Goalscorers: 4′ Warschewski, 16′ Didic, Gonzalez 48′; Dyer 78′ & 81′, Fordyce 88′
Game of the 2021 season: 106
CPL match: 242
Match in a minute or less
Valour FC’s season and, by extension, their hopes for a playoff spot came to an end Saturday at Clarke Field in a 3-3 draw to a fiery FC Edmonton side already eliminated from post-season play. Phil Dos Santos’ group needed a win to stay alive in the playoff chase… A goal that took a hit after just four minutes when Tobias Warschewski converted on a deflection. Amer Didic added another from a corner, so did Azriel Gonzalez after halftime… But the previously lacklustre Winnipeggers, down 3-0 in a must-win game, shocked the crowd with three goals in the closing 15 minutes and came within a William Akio header of prolonging their playoff hopes but, instead, closed on an emotional note and a 10-5-13 regular-season record.
Valour, literally, in playoff hunt until final knockings
Valour coach Phil Dos Santos wasn’t dealing in superlatives after their self-described bizarre season finale.
“They fought until the bitter end,” Dos Santos said, referencing Willaim Akio’s final chance to win the match. “We wanted to be in the fight until the last minute, and we were fighting until the last minute.”
A three-goal final ten minutes was only a tease as Winnipeg dropped the win that would have at least prolonged their chances at a playoff spot, as fourth-place York United has one more match to go. But Valour failed to leapfrog their York rivals, abruptly ending their season on 35 points and a 10-5-13 record.
To their credit, in their previous matches, the side posted massive back-to-back multi-goal wins over HFX Wanderers and Cavalry FC to even make Saturday’s match worthwhile, crawling into the playoff picture late.
Dos Santos, who took over for three-year coach Rob Gale in September, posted a 3-3-3 record in charge of the club and will now guide them into his first off-season at the helm.
“I have to congratulate the guys – you want to see players deal with adversity like that because a season has a bunch of ups and downs,” Dos Santos said. “Games like this will give you answers who you’ll want to go to war with.”
Missing Galhardo & Galan bring up ‘what could have been’ for Valour
We’re less than an hour from Valour’s season ending but it’s already hard not to think back about what could have been – especially on Saturday.
Valour’s brilliant Brazilian attacker Rafael Galhardo missed the match due to injury as did Jose Galan – missing players that would have helped them create more chances and control the match better before the hectic final losing moments. After all, Winnipeg was clinical, but ultimately generated few chances going forward until the end-to-end final moments.
Winnipeg also took a short bench to Edmonton with Federico Peña, a wingback/winger, the lone attacking option listed… And he was brought on after 45 minutes.
It makes you wonder how Saturday and, by extension, the season could have been for Winnipeg without their injrury crisis, as long-term absentees Masta Kacher and Austin Ricci could have also played roles. It’s starker contrast as Andrew Jean-Baptiste, the club’s star centre-back during their table-topping form at the opening season stanza in the Winnipeg Kickoff bubble, watched from the bench in Edmonton as he continues a long rehab process.
It’s a cruel end to a season that started for strong.
Eddies impress save for ‘worst 15 minutes’ of the week
You’d be remiss – yes even you, the most die-hard Valour supporter – to think Winnipeg was dead in the water for almost the entire match in Edmonton.
Truth be told, FC Edmonton played incredibly well. Alan Koch’s side took to fast attacking football, holding possession well in dangerous situations and dealing with Valour’s attacks well… Save for the late-game breakdown. They also kept possession objectively better than they had all season.
“You could see the work the team has put in with our attack, and other than 15 minutes through the course of the week, we were great,” Koch said, adding his team could have “destroyed” Valour on the day with their many chances on net.
Narratively, the match turned from a heartwarming season-ending result to a reminder of why the Eddies are bottom of the table, according to Koch: “The last 15-20 minutes show where we still have to go and, to be quite frank, it shows why we are at the bottom of the table. That’s how a team at the bottom plays.”
Azriel Gonzalez, one of Edmonton’s fearsome attackers that converted on one of the easier chances you’ll see in the CPL, frustratingly agreed with his gaffer: “We had a chance to bury this team by 5, 6, 7-nil in the first half. The quality in attack is up there, we just didn’t put our chances away.”
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Moses Dyer, Valour FC
Too little too late or one of the greatest single-match performances in Valour history? Moses Dyer scored twice and assisted on Fordyce’s epic equalizer through sheer will and determination, competing for the ball and, in the case of his assist, running to the far corners to contest and frustrate. The New Zealand international was a man possessed all match, snatching at balls out of position and, as we saw, fought to the bitter end.
Next up for FC Edmonton is their season finale – a home matchup against Forge FC next Saturday (2pm ET/12pm MT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.