PREVIEW: FC Edmonton vs. York United — Match #12

2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #12
FC Edmonton vs. York United
July 4, 2021 at 10:00 pm ET/9:00 pm CT
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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FC Edmonton: Connor James, Paris Gee, Jeannot Esua, Allan Zebie, Ramon Soria, Mélé Temguia, Roberto Avila, Tobias Warschewski, Hunter Gorskie (c), Thomas Gardner, Fraser Aird

York United FC: Nathan Ingham, Jordan Wilson, Dominick Zator, Roger Thompson, Alvaro Rivero, Max Ferrari, Diyaeddine Abzi, Isaiah Johnston, Terique Mohammed, Chrisnovic N’sa, Lowell Wright


Fresh off their first win in 624 days, FC Edmonton is looking to go (win) streaking this weekend when they take on York United Sunday night at IG Field.

Edmonton picked up an impressive 2-0 victory over Forge FC Thursday evening after falling 1-0 to Atlético Ottawa in their season opener. The result was particularly noteworthy for Alan Koch as the new Eddies coach picked up his first points with the club. It was a memorable contest for the neutral as well, and perhaps Forge for the wrong reasons, as Ramón Soria and Jeannot Esua found the back of the net in late, dramatic fashion — Esua’s stoppage time insurance strike is surely an early goal of the year candidate.

Still riding the high of a statement performance the night before, Koch told reporters on Friday just how connected his group feel in the early stages of the season: “You can see the overwhelming emotions and cohesiveness when the goals happen and you can see it at the end of the game and you can still feel it around the team this morning.”

It was the second consecutive strong showing from Edmonton in their win over the Hammers despite dropping their first game against Ottawa last Saturday. While results help provide proof of progression and quality performance, Koch says he’s proud of Thursday’s efforts but suggests the squad is far from peaking at this stage: “We worked hard against an excellent team and we got rewarded for it,” Koch said on Friday. “But we still have a long way to go.”

Hoping to kill that progress at the other end of the pitch on Sunday will be York United — coming off a positive result of their own on Thursday in a 2-2 draw with Pacific FC. The Nine Stripes came out the gate fast and physical against Pacific in hopes of interrupting any attacking flow from the opposition, ultimately eight cautions were handed out by the final whistle.

Diyaeddine Abzi was immense down the left flank for York, scoring in his second straight game, as the 22-year-old has served as one of the league’s exciting young players in 2021, while Brennan has leaned on plenty of youth across the full pitch in their first two matches: “These young guys are thriving in these opportunities,” Brennan told reporters on Friday. “I told them from day one, you work hard enough and you’re going to get your chance.”

The last time these two sides faced York came out on top 1-0 in last year’s Island Games thanks to a first half goal from Manny Aparicio (now with Pacific.) Much has changed however in the past nine months — York has rebranded while Edmonton is under new management and both clubs have seen a ton of turnover on their team sheets. Historically, it’s been advantage Nine Stripes in this fixture, but Sunday presents the chance for Koch and the Eddies to make a statement for the second match running.


  • Who will dictate the tempo? Neither team has struggled to score through two matches despite usually settling for less possession than the opponent — Edmonton’s 50.9% against Ottawa the most either side has enjoyed the ball this season with York boasting less than 45% in both of their games. Much of York’s attacking success has come from wide areas on the counter when the other side gambled and pushed their full backs high. Edmonton has also feasted on the flanks thanks to the pace of Esua and Co. while often defending in two organized blocks of four to absorb pressure effectively. Expect tons of firepower on the wings at both ends but this battle could be settled in the middle of the park by whichever midfield unit can dictate the tempo.
  • Ongaro or Warschewski up top? Why not both? Easton Ongaro has been as reliable a center forward as any CPL club has had dating back to 2019, with the 6’6″ talisman scoring 13 times in 29 league appearances. The issue for the Eddies has been finding a backup plan or some reinforcements for Ongaro, but in German striker Tobias Warschewski they just may have a solution. While neither has scored yet this season, Koch is more than satisfied with how the two forwards have performed to date: “It’s funny, we started Easton last night and then Toby came off the bench and I was incredibly happy with both of them as our strikers,” Koch told reporters on Friday. “Neither of them scored a goal but look at how much work they put in.” Considering their tendency to sit in a 4-4-2 formation, it will be interesting to see if/when Koch gives Ongaro and Warschewski the chance to start together in what could be a lethal partnership up top.
  • York set piece specialists: It’s hard to chalk up the number of recent goals York have scored from set piece situations to mere coincidence in hearing Jimmy Brennan’s assessment of their scrappy equalizer from a corner on Thursday evening: “On that set play, we were hungry, I think we’ve been dangerous for some time on our set pieces,” Brennan told the media Friday afternoon. “We pay a lot of attention to them because it’s such an important piece of the game.” While that hunger will be in the back of Koch and his team’s minds in preparing for York, the Eddies will be “aware of them” but aren’t altering preparation too much. Can Brennan’s side continue to make free kicks and corners count over a sustained period?


FC Edmonton wins: 0 || York United wins: 3 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

September 1, 2020 — FC Edmonton 0-1 York United


“Obviously in every game you play, you have to be aware of the team you’re going to play against… but right now as we’re trying to build something our focus has to be on us.” — Alan Koch, FC Edmonton head coach

They’re a good side, they’ve got some quick players out wide, in the middle of the park they try to play as well, so I think (Koch) is doing a good job but it’s up to us to expose them now and find their weaknesses.” — Jimmy Brennan, York United head coach

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