2021 CPL regular season — Match #101
Pacific FC vs. FC Edmonton
October 26, 2021 at 10:30 pm ET/7:30 pm PT
Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia
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Pacific FC will return to Vancouver Island this week for a key Tuesday night clash against FC Edmonton, as they continue to hunt down first place in the CPL standings and home field advantage in the upcoming playoffs.
The Tridents will take the pitch at Starlight Stadium in second place, with a 12-6-7 record and 42 points to put them two back of Cavalry FC and the top spot. They missed out on an opportunity to give themselves a real advantage in the table last Thursday night, when they lost 2-1 to Cavalry on the road, but Pa-Modou Kah’s side remain very much in the hunt with three league games left on the schedule before the playoffs begin. They officially clinched a playoff spot over the weekend thanks to results elsewhere in the league, but a lot remains on the line in these last few games with those invaluable home dates front of mind.
Meanwhile, FC Edmonton are hoping to find as many positives as possible from their last three games of the season, despite being already eliminated from playoff contention. They’re currently at the bottom of the CPL table with a 5-9-11 record and 24 points, but a win over Pacific could put them into seventh ahead of Atlético Ottawa. The Eddies have had an up-and-down October, having beaten Pacific early in the month and split points with Cavalry, before losing 4-3 at home to Ottawa and drawing 1-1 on the road against York United. They’ll enter this game well-rested, with that game against York coming on Sunday, October 17, so coach Alan Koch will want to see his side put up a good fight as they play their final road game of the 2021 season.
“If you look at where we started and where we are now, you can see there’s been an evolution, and that’s really all we want to see,” Alan Koch said Monday on his side’s progress. “We’re going to hope to see the same thing again tomorrow, we want to see the same thing the following game, as we continue to use these opportunities to maximize the time that we have together, because we didn’t have a preseason together, we didn’t really have an appropriate offseason last year.
“I looked the other day, FC Edmonton last year finished 10 points out of a playoff spot in a seven-game season. I think we’re 10 points out of a playoff spot today in a 28-game season. I think that shows how we’ve evolved and how we’re narrowing the gap, and that’s what we try to do. We try to narrow the gap, every single day.”
Meetings between these two sides have been quite interesting this year; in four games, both sides have won once, with two draws between them as well. For two teams at opposite ends of the league table, there’s been little to separate them. Still, Pacific coach Kah isn’t worried about the previous results, telling reporters on Monday that he still feels his club has been the better of the two in the four games they’ve played.
“For me it’s more about us, like always Even in all the games we’ve played against them, there’s not one single game where you can say they dominated us, if you look at the whole games you look at, alright, we haven’t taken our chances and we’ve given them opportunities… I don’t think they’ve truly broken us down in any of the games we’ve played if you do a deep analysis.”
Pacific will have a chance to go back into first place on Tuesday, and they’ll be very keen to take it.
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3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- Set-piece defence a concern for Pacific? A major factor in Pacific’s recent results has been how many times they’ve conceded from set-pieces. Four of the last five goals they have conceded were from dead-ball situations, including both of Cavalry’s goals last Thursday. There probably wasn’t much they could do about David Norman Jr.’s free kick, but they allowed another goal from a corner as well, after both Valour and HFX scored from the same situation in prior games. The Tridents have defended very well in open play, but for some reason teams have been able to beat them in the air on those set-piece opportunities. Still, Pa-Modou Kah is not panicking over it. “Me I don’t worry about set plays and stuff like this, that is part of the game,” he said on Monday. “You’re going to have teams that are going to capitalize on you on those things, and then for us it’s more about doing what we do best. For us, yes, four of the last five goals were set plays, but am I worried? No.”
- Ongaro looking to extend streak vs. PFC: Easton Ongaro, the Eddies’ leading goalscorer and perhaps a dark horse Golden Boot candidate with 11 goals this year, has an excellent record against Pacific over his career, with eight goals in nine games against them over the last three years. In fact, he’s scored in each of his last five matches against the Tridents, including all four meetings this season. He finds himself in excellent form at the moment, with seven goals in his last nine games, including a superb strike last time out against York United. Pacific will need to keep a close eye on the towering striker, especially on those set-pieces, if they’re to shut him down this time. “I don’t think it has anything to do with (Pacific),” Alan Koch said this week. “It just has to do with him; what have we played them, five times? It’s probably a huge percentage of the games we’ve played this season, so if he’s going to score goals, he’s going to score goals in the games he’s playing and we have to play against Pacific a lot. I don’t think it has anything to do with their individual makeup or their collective makeup.”
- Pacific squad selection questions: With star attacker and perennial MVP candidate Marco Bustos working his way back to full health — he’s come off the bench for Pacific in the last two games after missing about two months with injury — squad selection is becoming a little trickier for Kah. Once Bustos is able to start, it’ll be fascinating to see whether they change anything in their formation. The front three of Josh Heard, Alejandro Díaz, and Terran Campbell has thrived in Bustos’ absence, with Campbell moving over to play the right wing role that Bustos himself typically occupies. So, Kah will have some choices to make: does he drop one of the three to start Bustos? Does he keep Bustos to the supersub role for a little longer? Or, perhaps, can they play with all four on the pitch? “You always want your best players back,” Kah said. “When (Bustos) got injured other players stepped up, that’s why you have a squad… Then when you get your best players back it’s happy days for a coach because you’ve got to make different choices. You hear people say, ‘Oh, can they fit all four players in there’ but we’ve played with all four. We tied Cavalry 0-0 playing all four of our players in front, so we also have the capability of doing it.”
FC Edmonton wins: 4 || Pacific FC wins: 3 || Draws: 3
October 6, 2021 — FC Edmonton 2-1 Pacific FC
“We’ve picked up points against every single team in this league… We just haven’t found consistency yet. I think we’ve shown we can compete against the top teams, but part of our evolution is showing that we can do it every single week.”— FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch
“Obviously we all want to play at home. But to win, it doesn’t matter where you play… You can say, ‘Oh, I want home field advantage,’ but then what happens if you get it and lose? When it comes to playing, it doesn’t matter home or away. The W is the only thing that counts.” — Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah