PREVIEW: FC Edmonton vs. Cavalry FC — Match #80

2021 CPL regular season — Match #80
FC Edmonton vs. Cavalry FC
September 29, 2021 at 8:00pm MT/10:00pm ET
Clarke Field, Edmonton, Alberta
Watch Live: // Tickets available here

The Al Classico light will be reignited Wednesday night at Clarke Field in Edmonton when Cavalry FC comes to town to face the Eddies in a pivotal match in more ways than one.

The Wild Rose Cup, the supporters-created trophy given to the winner of the all-Alberta clash, could be won Wednesday (more on that later) by the Cavs as they look to get back into the win column in the provincial capital. Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side is on a rare four-match winless run having most recently been undone by league bottom-dwellers Atlético Ottawa 3-1 at TD Place. A neat finish from Victor Loturi following a poor giveaway was all the side had to smile about on a day where they peppered the Ottawa goal with 18 shots and 45 crosses – including over a dozen each from Mo Farsi and Jose Escalante. Saturday’s loss along with two defeats to Pacific FC and a draw to Valour FC means Cavalry has failed to grab a win over four matches for just the third time in club history.

“We just have to put this in context – we’ve only lost five games while Forge, the reigning double champions, have seven,” Wheeldon Jr. said, adding the team is 2-1-2 on this extended road trip set to end this weekend in Winnipeg. “That’s a pretty good record to have on the road. We knew it was going to be a bizarre league season with lots of ups and downs. Right now we’re on a minor down, but the only way is up.”

Edmonton, meanwhile, should be in relatively good shape physically despite a cross-country trip to visit HFX Wanderers FC, a match that ended 1-0 on a Joao Morelli goal. Alan Koch’s side didn’t play particularly poorly against Halifax, especially in the second half, as they emerged from a rare 11-day layoff but failed to score.

“We’ve played well in almost every game we’ve played this year,” Koch said before the match. “I might be the calmest person in Edmonton right now – I’m thoroughly enjoying the players going through these difficult moments and when you play quality teams like Cavalry you have to step up you have to rise to those challenges.”

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  • Wild Rose Cup could be decided: Wednesday’s Al Classico tilt could see the second ever awarding of the Wild Rose Cup – the supporter-created award handed out to the team with the seasonal winning record in the all-Alberta tilt. Cavalry needs only a draw to ensure their second Wild Rose capture following their inaugural win in 2019, having posted two wins and one draw in their season series thus far. These two teams will clash again in just over a week and a half when they close out the Al Classico regular-season slate at ATCO Field (Saturday, Oct. 9) which is when the cup will be presented. Edmonton has never beaten the Cavs across nine occasions.
  • Veteran presence returning for Cavalry: In the lead up to Wednesday, Wheeldon Jr. said the team will not be taking Edmonton lightly, adding they may have been guilty of that against Ottawa – a rare 3-1 loss to the league’s bottom feeders. Wheeldon mentioned after the match he had “got answers for the players” that can lead them to the playoffs following a mistake-laden affair without veterans Nik Ledgerwood and Mason Trafford. For the Al Classico, Wheeldon Jr. said fans will see some of those answers: “A mentor of mine once told me leadership is situational and leadership is all about being there when your team needs you, whether it’s defending or attacking.” Before the match, Wheeldon Jr. revealed another of his veterans, striker Joe Mason, remains out with a knee strain sustained during the penalty shout-turned-Ledgerwood free kick goal against Valour FC earlier this month, adding he could be back in a week. Anthony Novak will be subject to a late fitness test too.
  • Edmonton shaping identity: Koch revealed his side had a “big heart-to-heart” conversation following the Halifax loss around the team’s identity and how they want to proceed through to 2022, adding the team values defensive solidity and creating chances. Finishing remains a missing piece as the side sits dead last with 19 goals for, but perhaps it’s time for a late-season pallet cleanser for Edmonton who has played well above their standing in the league. Before the goalless loss to Halifax, the side had put three past Valour and managed to find the net away to top-ranked Pacific. They currently sit above Cavalry in expected goals from open play and create well from wide areas – fullback Fraser Aird has faced 10 more chances, 37 in total, than any other CPLer according to Centre Circle Data.


Cavalry FC wins: 7 || FC Edmonton wins: 0 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

Sept. 1, 2021 — FC Edmonton 0-1 Cavalry FC


“The way the schedule is, we get to play Cavalry a lot and for us as a group, we’re grateful for it. These games give us great opportunities to assess our group as much as we can – to play in meaningful games against battle-hardened teams like Cavalry is huge.”– FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch

“They are a very well organized team and they’re still scoring goals… I can’t believe they’ve not won more than they have to be honest, because I think they’re a very good team. It makes us even more prepared because we are playing against a good team.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.