2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #67
Cavalry vs. FC Edmonton
July 30, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. MT
ATCO Field in Calgary, Alberta
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On paper, this year’s meetings between Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton have largely gone to script, with the Cavs continuing their dominant history against their provincial rivals. Cavalry has won all three meetings between the two sides so far in 2022 in all competitions, and a 3-0 win on June 26 was their tenth all-time against the Eddies.
But the 3-1 match, on June 26 at ATCO Field, was a lot closer than the scoreline indicated. FC Edmonton gave the hosts plenty of difficulties, doing something that very few visitors manage during one of the more challenging away trips in the league and outshooting the Cavs at home.
On Saturday, the goal will be to go a step further. Having still never defeated Cavalry, doing so would undoubtedly be the highlight of what has been a challenging season for the Eddies.
“We have something to prove to ourselves,” said FC Edmonton coach Alan Koch, “and we know we are going to face a good quality team who we have struggled against in the past. So we will focus on ourselves, we will focus on the performance that we want to put in, and we will see how the match unfolds.”
While their history against Edmonton has largely been incredibly positive, Cavalry has been making the wrong kind of club history lately. A 3-0 away defeat to Pacific this past Friday was the biggest loss in Cavalry’s history, and after losing to Forge midweek they have now dropped three matches in a row for the first time.
They are still eight points clear of the playoff line, but Valour now has two games in hand, so the Cavs will want to stop the bleeding sooner rather than later. They will have extra incentive to do so in this match, as a win or a draw would mean clinching the 2022 Wild Rose Cup, a supporter-created trophy handed out to the winner of Edmonton and Cavalry’s regular season series.
“Every time FC Edmonton play us it is a cup final for them because they have never beaten us,” said Cavalry manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. “So it actually is a cup final, one made by the fans, so actually it is a great incentive for our players because we talk about wanting to play in these big game experiences, Edmonton has had the full week to prepare. So they have an advantage coming into this game because they have been able to just focus on us, we haven’t.”
One uncharacteristic part of Cavalry’s recent struggles has been their lack of goals. The club has scored just once in their last three matches. But like when they faced a similar stretch to start the season, Wheeldon Jr. isn’t concerned about it being a long-term issue.
“We’ve got to get the service, we’ve got to get the structure, we will have more of the ball against Edmonton so with that we will create more opportunities,” he said. “Our set plays are as good as anybody’s, probably collectively in the world. Half our goals have been scored from that so I think we’ve always got a way of scoring goals. That doesn’t phase us.”
They will get some reinforcements in that department for this match. Both José Escalante and Bradley Vliet are available for selection. It is unlikely, however, that either Trafford will appear in this match, as Mason has been dealing with a minor injury, while Charlie is suspended. Jean-Aniel Assi will also miss out.
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3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Cavalry is not concerned despite a recent dip in results: Cavalry has lost three very different matches during this losing streak. The first, against York at home, they feel they should have won, with 1.13 expected goals to York’s 0.47. They were then very disappointed at the individual mistakes they made in a 3-0 loss to Pacific but were encouraged with their bounce-back performance against Forge despite another loss. This is a group that isn’t used to dropping points, however, and Wheeldon Jr. mentioned that his group had a few player-led video sessions to try to figure out what they can do to get back in the win column. He said that the leadership and accountability shown during those sessions are a sign that the group is still in good shape. Seeing as this three-game dip was preceded by 11 unbeaten, they are still well-placed in the table as well. “If we win, guess what, we are back in first place,” said Wheeldon Jr.
- Cavalry continues to rotate the squad with an eye toward long-term goals: Wheeldon Jr.’s team sheet has looked vastly different in the past few matches. Currently in a stretch of five matches in 17 days, Wheeldon Jr. made six changes between the Starting XIs he rolled out in a home match against York, and then July 22nd’s away match at Pacific. He then made four changes from that Starting XI to the one he played against Forge midweek. While this inconsistency of lineup has perhaps hurt Cavalry’s ability to pick up points in the short term, it is with managing player’s health long-term in mind. The Cavs have been hamstrung by major injuries in recent years, and are doing what they can control to make sure that does not continue. Tommy Wheeldon Jr. mentioned especially some of their “fast-twitch” players, i.e wingers or attackers who make more explosive motions, need to especially be managed during travel periods. He said it is worth having them miss a match or two, versus weeks on end. “This year we are trying to learn that we have to rotate, to manage our squad especially in the intensity that we play and in the heat that we are going through right now, with a view towards the long-term gain,” said Wheeldon Jr.
- FC Edmonton’s Tobias Warschewski is back in the goals, showing growth: There isn’t a much better way to start a season than a stoppage-time equalizer via a bicycle kick, but that was how Warschewski began 2022. Since then, goals haven’t been quite as easy to come by. During a stretch in which Edmonton has scored in 11 straight matches, the German has found the back of the net just twice, both from the penalty spot. But while the offensive rewards haven’t always been there, Koch says he has seen significant growth from Warschewski on the other side of the ball. In fact, no player in the league has won more duels than Warschewski’s 130 this season. “Every attacking player wants to score and get assists, and Tobi is the same as every other attacking player around the world,” said Koch. “But what I am the proudest of, I think you can see in the last few games and in particular against Halifax is how hard he works when we don’t have the ball. Yes, he is hungry when we have the ball, he is one of those players that gets switched on the second we get to the final third, but his biggest growth this season is how he works when we don’t have the ball, and has the concentration and effort to go apply himself”. Warschewski found the back of the net early against Halifax this past weekend, his first goal since May 22. Edmonton will be hoping that is a sign of a return to scoring form for their joint top-goalscorer.
Cavalry FC wins: 10 || FC Edmonton wins: 0 || Draws: 3
June 26, 2022 —Cavalry FC 3-1 FC Edmonton
“We will focus on how we can continue that unbeaten streak against Edmonton and we will try to win that supporters’ trophy, which I think is important to our fans. So I think it makes for a really great fixture on a nice hot day on the weekend.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
“They are at home, they are a quality team, and we know going and playing them at home is never going to be easy. It is also very, very difficult to go and play a wounded animal. They have been hurt a few times in their last few games. We know they are going to be hungry for the game tomorrow, but we are going to be hungry too.” — FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch