PREVIEW: Valour FC vs. Cavalry FC — 2022 Match #40

2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #40
 Valour FC vs. Cavalry FC
June 15, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. CT/8:00 p.m. ET
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Cavalry FC find themselves with a chance to ascend to the top of the table on Wednesday night in the Canadian Premier League, as they travel to Winnipeg for a weeknight clash with Valour FC.

Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s Calgary side enter this as one of the most in-form teams in the CPL right now, having won three in a row and gone unbeaten in their last six league matches — a run that earned Wheeldon the league’s Manager of the Month nod for May, with four wins and a draw in the month.

As it stands, the Cavs are third in the league table on 17 points, just one behind Pacific FC and Atlético Ottawa with a much better +5 goal differential — plus games in hand.

This return to the pitch for Cavalry comes just a few days after a weekend home game on Saturday, in which Aribim Pepple’s goal just after halftime secured a 1-0 victory for his side — the second time in a row that Pepple has broken a 0-0 deadlock to win the game for Cavalry, having done so the prior weekend at York United as well.

“When you’ve got three number nines like Joe Mason, Myer Bevan, and Aribim Pepple that are scoring goals, it makes us coaches’ jobs easier now,” Wheeldon said on Tuesday. “We’ve also got number 10s like Ali Musse and Sergio Camargo, they’re chomping at the bit to get more of a run of games… I think there’s some nice balance in our side which allows us to plug and play and not miss a beat.”

Valour, meanwhile, seek their first win since May 15 against York. They’ve lost two and drawn two since then, including most recently a 1-1 result against FC Edmonton last Sunday where a 94th-minute goal from William Akio saved a point for the Winnipeg club at the very end.

Phil Dos Santos’ side remain just outside the top four at the moment, with a 2-4-3 record from nine games and 10 points to put them sixth in the standings. They’ll be very keen to return to winning ways at home, where they have just one win from four attempts so far in 2022.

Valour may have a slight issue with squad selection in midfield for this match, with Diego Gutierrez suspended and Matthew Catavolo on international duty with Canada’s U-20s — not to mention recent signing Kevin Rendón, who is not yet available. Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste is also away on national team duty with Haiti at the moment, leaving Valour further shorthanded.

Head coach Dos Santos told this week that it’s likely Brett Levis will play in midfield for this one, though he’ll otherwise do his best to keep the rest of his lineup consistent.

These sides have met once already this year, back on May 21 when Valour travelled to Spruce Meadows. That contest ended up going Cavalry’s way, though for much of the 90 minutes it felt like it was destined for a 0-0 draw. Instead, the drama mounted in the closing stages, as Myer Bevan put Cavalry ahead in the 85th minute — only for Stefan Cebara to equalize three minutes later. At last, though, it was Elijah Adekugbe who won the game for the hosts with a goal two minutes into stoppage time for a 2-1 result.

Historically, Cavalry have had the upper hand in fixtures between these teams, with seven wins from 11 meetings. Valour’s one win, though, came late in 2021, in a thrilling 4-2 result away from home that kept their playoff hopes alive at the time.

Whether the Cavs continue to roll, or Valour find their way back into the win column, this tie is sure to be a fascinating one between two sides replete with attacking talent.

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  • Rested Valour look to capitalize on home advantage: The circumstances of this contest probably favour Valour somewhat. Cavalry, having played on Saturday, have had to travel to Winnipeg on a shorter turnaround than normal without much time to prepare. The hosts, meanwhile, have been since the beginning of June — indeed, this will be their third consecutive match at IG Field — and they’ve been off for about 10 days since their game with Edmonton last Sunday. Capitalizing on minor advantages is key to success in the Canadian Premier League, but Valour have not exactly made good use of their home fixtures so far this year. They’ll be very keen on improving their form in front of the Trench at IG Field and putting a win on the board. “When you just lose three games out of nine, you need to be higher in the standings,” Phil Dos Santos said Tuesday. “The draws at home are the difficult ones; we need to understand that we need to come into some games with more energy, more bite.”
  • Cavs hope to suffocate Valour attack: Cavalry have often been one of the more direct teams with the ball in CPL play this year, although they’ve also developed a new defensive element to their game which may be key to shutting down some high-powered Valour attackers like William Akio or Sean Rea. “We’re probably one of the teams that plays the least amount of long balls,” Tommy Wheeldon Jr. pointed out. “It’s interesting because I think our game’s evolved a little bit; we’ve certainly added another element in our patience and build out in terms of control when we are up a goal to try and get that momentum back. We then become very difficult; we almost suck the life out of teams, and I think you’ve got to do that to Valour. What’s been pleasing is when we played them last time we had another gear to go to.”
  • Don’t turn off until fulltime: In matches either of these teams play, it would be advisable not to look away in the final 15 to 20 minutes, regardless of where the scoreline stands. Last time they met, a would-be 0-0 draw turned into a 2-1 slugfest in the final 10 minutes. Aside from that, though, both teams have been able to find goals to turn a result around in the dying stages; Daan Klomp’s 94th-minute goal in Halifax secured a 2-2 draw for the Cavs a few weeks ago, while William Akio saved a point for Valour against FC Edmonton in their last match. Overall, the results of five Cavalry matches and six of Valour’s contests have been decided by a goal within the final 20 minutes. Neither side can afford to switch off in the late stages of this one. “This is a league where you need to be connected and tuned in for 90 minutes,” Phil Dos Santos said. “Especially when you play against teams that don’t need much to hurt you. It tells us that we’re not far, it shows we’re neck and neck fighting in every game, but now it’s about turning these little moments that don’t go in our favour into having those moments come in our favour for us to get the three points.”


Valour FC wins: 1 || Cavalry FC wins: 7 || Draws: 3

Previous match:

May 21, 2022 – Cavalry FC 2-1 Valour FC


“Finding that way to accelerate the play a bit more, play at a higher energy and dictate the tempo as opposed to just accepting the tempo of the opposition, for us that’s the next level. That’s where we want to be; I think that’s going to bring stability and consistency to our game.” — Valour FC head coach Phil Dos Santos

“You’ve got to be prepared; will they be fresh or rusty? We’ve got to manage games, and I think we’ve been very good at understanding what the game’s saying to us and adapting to that… We have an idea of how we want to play and the and the principles we want to enforce on them, but also if that’s not working we have another element to us that we can adapt accordingly.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.