PREVIEW: HFX Wanderers vs. FC Edmonton — 2022 Match #15

2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #15
HFX Wanderers vs. FC Edmonton
April 30, 2022 at 3 p.m. AT/12 p.m. MT
Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia
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HFX Wanderers are returning home to Wanderers Grounds on Saturday for the first time this season. After going 5-3-2 at home a season ago in CPL action, and losing just twice at home in 2019 as well, they’ll look to make it a fortress for them again in 2022, starting on Saturday against the visiting FC Edmonton.

Both teams are coming off matches against the reigning champions Pacific FC. The Haligonians made the trip out to Langford, BC last weekend for a coastal clash with The Tridents, and were perhaps unlucky not to come away with a point. Manny Aparicio opened the scoring midway through the opening half, before Cory Bent tied it up for the visitors in stoppage time.

It seemed as though the two sides were going to play out a 1-1 draw, but after Marco Bustos was fouled in the 84th minute, Alejandro Diaz stepped up and won the match with his third goal of the season.

The Eddies, meanwhile, have a quick turnaround from their last game after a midweek tilt with Pacific FC at home on Wednesday night. On the night when they welcomed former defensive standout Amer Didic back to the city, Edmonton’s defenders stood strong to keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Clarke Stadium. It was the first 0-0 draw of the 2022 CPL season, and Edmonton’s third draw in four matches thus far.

HFX Wanderers are 1-0-2 to begin the season, tied on points with FC Edmonton, who enter Saturday’s match with a 0-3-1 record. If Saturday’s meeting doesn’t end in a draw, the winning side will jump up into a playoff spot, at least temporarily ahead of Sunday’s doubleheader elsewhere in the league.

They played each other three times in 2021, with HFX winning two of those matchups. Joao Morelli scored a brace in a 2-1 Wanderers victory in the first meeting in the bubble in Winnipeg, before an 81st-minute winner from Easton Ongaro earned his side all three points in the rematch eleven days later. When teams returned to home markets, the Eddies made the trip out east to Wanderers Grounds in September, where Morelli again scored the winning goal, this time in a 1-0 home victory for his side.

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  • Wanderers return home after three games on the road: After beginning their 2022 season with three matches on the road, including a coast-to-coast journey to take on Pacific FC last weekend, HFX Wanderers are returning home for their first match at Wanderers Grounds this season on Saturday. They won their first match of the season against York United before losing to both Atletico Ottawa and Pacific FC. Both of the goals that turned their potential road points into losses came in the final minutes of the match — Malcolm Shaw scored for Ottawa in the 81st minute and Alejandro Diaz for Pacific in the 85th — so closing out games is something they’ll need to work on. TD Place and Starlight Stadium are two difficult places to play, something that HFX will be hoping that they can say about Wanderers Grounds when the 2022 season is all said and done. They’ve only lost four CPL games at home, twice in 2019 and twice in 2021, and are hoping to have the same good fortune at home this year. “It’s great to be home, three games on the road is never easy, especially in the opening part of the season, but we’re happy to be home and we’re glad to be in front of our fans and everything that goes with being at home,” Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart in his pregame press conference on Friday. “We’ve only had an hour on the pitch because of weather, but it’ll be great to be on grass, everything that smells and tastes like football.”
  • Eddies struggling to score, but hard to beat: After a tumultuous offseason, nobody really knew what to expect from FC Edmonton in 2022, but four games into the season Alan Koch’s side have proven to be a resilient team that are difficult to beat. With the exception of a 3-0 defeat in Hamilton against Forge FC, the Eddies have drawn their other three games, conceding just two total goals across those matches. They started the season with back-to-back 1-1 draws against Valour FC and York United before the aforementioned loss to Forge, before keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with the defending champions Pacific FC on Wednesday. They’ve been stingy defensively through their first four games, often sitting deep with as many as seven outfield players behind the ball to try and limit chances for the opposition. Their two goals scored is tied with the Wanderers and Cavalry for the fewest thus far (with one more game played than either of those two) in that regard, something that they’ll need to work on. Against Forge they failed to register a single shot in the match, but against Pacific showed signs of improvement, outshooting The Tridents 11-10, and 5-3 in shots on goal. They were getting into the right spots, but were just missing a final bit of quality to put the ball into the back of the net.
  • Hart not rushing to replace Morelli: Reigning Golden Boot and Player of the Year winner Joao Morelli was ruled out for the season recently after suffering a torn ACL injury in HFX Wanderers’ second match of the season against Atlético Ottawa. HFX Wanderers have been looking for a replacement for the 26-year-old Brazilian star, but are yet to sign anyone. Wanderers boss Stephen Hart says that it’s a difficult time of year, where players have recently signed with a club, or won’t have their contracts end until May or June. He said during his pregame press conference that his team are focusing on getting the right player, and not rushing to “get someone for the sake of getting someone”. 2020 Golden Boot winner Akeem Garcia returned to the starting lineup last time out against Pacific, and will be hoping to regain that type of form after a disappointing 2021 season, while fellow attacker Cory Bent has had a strong start to his season and scored last weekend.


HFX Wanderers wins: 3 || FC Edmonton wins: 3 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

September 25, 2021 – HFX Wanderers 1-0 FC Edmonton


“[FC Edmonton] are extremely organized, they pick their moments well to go forward. To me they’ve been a little unfortunate, and they’re a difficult side to break down. I don’t expect anything different from them on the road.” — HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart

“It’s going to be a whole different beast. Halifax have had a few games that have been up and down a little bit, and we’re going to see the real Wanderers because Stephen will have them ready to go. Their fans will be fired up, their players are going to be fired up. This is going to be a tough challenge, but we want to embrace these challenges, we’re excited to be playing in their home opener because we know what home openers mean to teams and it’s going to be an exciting environment. We’re looking forward to going toe-to-toe and hopefully putting in a good performance.” — FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch