YORK REGION – With Wednesday’s encounter the third time in as many weeks that York9 FC and FC Edmonton have clashed, perhaps it was no surprise that a 0-0 draw was on the cards when the two met in Canadian Premier League play one last time in the month of June.
The two sides met over two legs in the 2019 Canadian Championship earlier this month, with York taking a 3-1 win at home and Edmonton winning 1-0 on their turf, allowing the Nine Stripes to progress to the next round and a date with Montreal Impact FC.
But in this encounter, York9’s usual successes in attack were met, instead, with a more resolute Eddies backline.
“You’re starting to figure out the weaknesses and the strengths,” York9 coach Jimmy Brennan offered after the match. “But at the end of the day, we had a game-plan, we knew what we wanted to do today. We’re disappointed.
“It is a lot playing the same team, but it is what it is and we’ve got to get on with it. We play them again in a few weeks, don’t we? We’ll be swapping jerseys soon with these guys.”
It is not just the opponent that is getting stale; in preparing for the same team, the process can start to blur together.
“It’s an interesting one,” Edmonton’s Jeff Paulus admitted. “Three-straight Wednesdays and we play them again in three weeks or something like that in the Fall Season.
“I don’t know … we’ve had the same meal every time, I think these guys are sick of that chicken.”
FC Edmonton captain Tomi Ameobi offered, plainly, that “you’ve just got to deal with it” – and, of course, there will be plenty of new opponents to take on before July 14, when these two meet again at York Lions Stadium.
“Having played them quite a lot over the past couple weeks, you could say that we kind of knew each other’s game,” Ameobi said, of this particular battle.
Edmonton could take some solace that at least the dead-ball punishment the side endured on their last visit to York Lions Stadium was not repeated on this night … even though one nearly got through.
“Three set-piece goals knocked us out of the Canadian Championship,” Paulus reflected. “So I’m delighted with the response from the players.
“I don’t think you’ll see that happen to these lads again, because we’ve all felt the sting of that.”
Though both sides were clearly disappointed not to have found a goal on the night, there was something to take for each.
For Edmonton, it was a difficult away point – their first in the league at all since May 12, when the Eddies played to another scoreless draw with Pacific FC.
But that was then; this is now, and, as Ameobi pointed out, York9 has been a tough foe, of late.
“This is not an easy place to come play,” Ameobi levelled. “But the boys applied themselves very well, and everyone was working until the final whistle.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get the three points because we had chances, but we’ll come away here with a point.”
For York it was a second-straight clean-sheet, a third-straight match unbeaten in CPL play, and, despite wanting for more, the mood was, understandably, still somewhat positive after the final whistle.
“The boys put a good shift in today. We had some great spells of football: passing around, moving it, creating opportunities,” Brennan offered. “We had our chances today.
“We’re starting to come together, our identity is starting to get out onto the field; the boys are expressing themselves. And now it’s about being clinical in that box and finishing those opportunities.”
Over? Not over? Y9 weighs in
Speaking of set pieces, York9 captain Manny Aparicio nearly got on the end of a set piece to give his side the edge, but the ball was cleared away off the line by Bruno Zebie, leading to this humorous exchange between player and coach after the match.
Brennan said, of the chance: “I thought his header was in the back of the net. I was about to run down the sideline.”
What did Manny have to say?
“I headed it, I fell down, I was watching it go in and the defender cleared it off the line, just unlucky … great clearance though,” recounted the York captain of his view, before being interrupted by his coach.
“I think it was over (the line),” suggested Brennan.
“Could have been,” Aparicio replied, with a laugh.
“VAR would have called it back,” Brennan interjected, with a cheeky smile.