PREVIEW: FC Edmonton vs. Pacific FC — Match #86

2021 CPL regular season — Match #86
FC Edmonton vs. Pacific FC
October 6, 2021 at 9 pm ET/7 pm MT
Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here


FC Edmonton and Pacific FC meet for the fourth time this season as the teams go head-to-head at Clarke Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The hosts are returning to home turf and will aim to get back to winnings ways. Coach Alan Koch’s side have played in some close games falling just short in their last four. FC Edmonton have one win, two draws and two losses to their name over their last five games but returning to Clarke Field leaves “everybody is in good spirits,” according to Koch. “They’re all working incredibly hard, I think everybody understands what we’re asking them to do. Thankfully, more and more of our players are healthy now… We can hopefully play all of them as much as we can throughout the next week,” he said.

Pacific FC, meanwhile, continues their long stretch of away games stemming from September 19 and Wednesday’s fixture will be their fourth straight match on the road in all competitions. Speaking ahead of the match, coach Pa-Modou Kah emphasized the tough schedule does not faze his players – instead, they simply “have to embrace it.” Pacific’s record from their last five league matches sits at two wins, two draws and one loss.

Both teams have impressive attacking talent in their squad who will be eager to break the deadlock at Clarke Stadium. FC Edmonton’s Easton Ongaro and Pacific FC’s Alejandro Díaz both have nine goals to their name which is second on the Canadian Premier League’s goal-scoring charts behind HFX Wanderers’ João Morelli (14).

“I’m very happy with what [Díaz] brings to us in terms of how we play, [he’s] a very intelligent player. Again, you do not play for Club América if you’re not a good player,” said Kah. “He’s finding his groove, both him and Terran [Campbell], they’re scoring regularly which is fantastic, which is what you want. With [Diaz], we’re very satisfied, we’re very happy, he’s done a fantastic job.”

“[Ongaro’s] a natural goalscorer,” said Koch. “A couple of his goals are goals where he’s in the right position and a lot of the time that’s intuitive, that’s working on your movement and I think he has that natural instinct as a goalscorer. But, he’s also very willing to learn… He’s one of the guys in our group who is a true professional. He comes to work wanting to grow and get better every single day.”

Looking at previous fixtures, FC Edmonton and Pacific FC have met three times already this season and the islanders holding the upper hand with one win and two draws. Their last match against one another almost saw Koch’s side hold on to all three points until a 92nd-minute equalizer from Lukas MacNaughton made things 1-1.

Games between these two sides are always close and the series is split down the middle so bragging rights are up for grabs. Will FC Edmonton pull off a shock upset or can Pacific FC extend their lead at the top of the table?

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  • The Ongaro threat: Looking back at recent meetings between these teams there is always one name listed on the scoresheet. FC Edmonton striker Ongaro has scored seven league goals against Pacific FC since 2019 — making them one of his favourite opponents. The visitors will undoubtedly have to keep their eyes on him at all times. However, head coach Kah is not too worried about the 23-year-old causing his side any problems. “It’s not like he’s causing us [problems] by dribbling past five or six players to score a goal, but he is always in the right place at the right time, which is a fantastic trait for a striker, that I do agree with,” he said. “I think we cause ourselves more problems giving him the time and space in the box. If you give people time and space in the box, a man of his quality is going to score goals… it should be more of ‘how do we eliminate him in the box?’” Meanwhile, Koch stresses that FC Edmonton are not a one-man attack “by any means.” “We are creating chances in every single game not just for [Ongaro], but for everybody else. So I think teams that come in and they have the game plan just to manage [Ongaro] there will be somebody else who is going to step up in that moment … teams don’t just worry about one player when they come play against Edmonton.”
  • Goalkeepers could decide the match: While plenty of eyes will be on the attacking threats, the result could come down to impressive goalkeeping. In their last meeting, both FC Edmonton’s Darlington Murasiranwa and Pacific’s Callum Irving were at the top of their game which helped the match end all square. In fact, their full-time statistics mirrored one another with three attempts saved (75 per cent) and one punch each. As Pacific’s starting goalkeeper and being tied for the most clean sheets in the CPL (seven), Irving is expected to feature. Meanwhile, Koch has opted to start veteran Connor James in recent games so Wednesday’s starting goalkeeper remains up in the air. “I was happy with how [Murasiranwa] managed the game [against Pacific]. He was part of the responsibility for us conceding the goal but he made some fantastic saves in the second half the other day [against Valour]. I know he grew from that experience … he’s going to get more opportunities down the stretch.”
  • Will Bustos return?: Pacific’s star man Marco Bustos has been out with an injury since late August but the 25-year-old could make his return against Edmonton or against the HFX Wanderers on October 11. Kah confirmed it will be a game-day decision. “He’s back in full training and we are very happy to have him back, it’s another weapon for us,” said Kah. “The team has been performing and holding the ship down a little bit so hopefully he comes in and continues where he left [off] prior to his injury.” The potential return of one of Pacific FC’s game-changing players would be a massive boost. As they look to extend their lead at the top of the table and also set their sights on their semi-final match up against Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship, it’s perfect timing for Kah and company.


FC Edmonton wins: 3 || Pacific FC wins: 3 || Draws: 3

Previous match:

September 14, 2021 — FC Edmonton 1-1 Pacific FC


“The fact that we’re playing teams that are top of the table, or very close to, almost every single game, these are growth opportunities for us.” FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch

“You want to finish on top, everybody does. We know we have seven games to play … so far, it’s just about continuing doing what we’re doing and not thinking ahead.”  Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah