‘Far from where we need to be:’ Paulus questions FCE’s resilience

EDMONTON – FC Edmonton dominated the first half, but had nothing to show for it. Cavalry FC roared to life in the second, and showed once again why this special team from Calgary is the class of the Canadian Premier League.

That’s why Cavalry has six wins out of six league games this season, and the Eddies have won just once. When Cavalry has periods of dominance, it pays off in goals. Edmonton, on the other hand, had many great looks, but couldn’t convert.

Saturday’s 3-0 Al Classico victory over FC Edmonton was the latest instalment in a season of perfection for Cavalry. The red-shirted supporters who made the three-hour trek up the Queen Elizabeth II Highway, and took over section 101, were the ones singing in the end.

Sergio Camargo had a second-half brace, and Nico Pasquotti added the insult-to-injury goal.

Camargo opened the scoring by finishing off a counterattack that was spurred by a great run from Dominique Malonga, then got the second by being the right man in the right place off a goalmouth scramble.

But, just as important to the Cavalry’s success at Clarke Stadium was the home team’s inability to convert chances in a first half that the Eddies dominated.

“I’ll be the first to say that we could have been down a couple of goals in the first 20, 25 minutes,” said Camargo.

“We were very fortunate, (goalkeeper) Marco Carducci and our defenders made some big plays. But we put away our chances when we started playing better in the second half.”

In fact, it wouldn’t be out of line to say that no team this season has played as solid a 45 minutes against the Cavalry as FCE did on Sunday.

The Eddies could have, should have held a halftime lead. But, despite launching 13 shots on target they had nothing to show for their dominance.

“For that 45, that was the best half we’ve played,” said FCE coach Jeff Paulus. “We knew how we wanted to play against the Cavalry, we executed the game plan. For that 45 minutes, I came in believing at that time we were the best team on the field.”

Cavalry vs. FC Edmonton in Edmonton. (Photo: Tony Lewis/CPL)
Cavalry vs. FC Edmonton in Edmonton. (Photo: Tony Lewis/CPL)

Oumar Diouck alone had five attempts on goal in the first half, and four of them were blocked. He also blasted a shot well over the bar from close range. He got behind the Cavs defence and had a chance to go in one-on-one on Carducci; but lingered on the ball too long and allowed the defenders to get back and block his attempt.

James Marcelin forced Carducci into a save with a shot from the edge of the penalty area, and Amer Didic, finally back in the starting lineup for the first time since the first match of the season, had two headed efforts on corner that went over the bar.

It was the best half the Eddies have played this season. They launched 13 attempts on goal. They were bypassing the vaunted Cavalry press by going over it with long balls that stretched the road team’s shape. They deserved to be up based on the flow of play, but the lack of finish let them down.

And then the floodgates opened.

“This is a good league and Edmonton are a good team,” said Wheeldon. “They were the better team in the first half,

I’ll say that confidently. They came out, they kept the ball, they won first and second balls.”

But Wheeldon said Cavalry made a shuffle at the 30 -minute mark to shore up the back line, by bringing in defender Dominick Zator in for midfielder Julian Buscher, and shuffling Joel Waterman from the outside to the middle of the park.

“But we know if we’re knocked down, that we’re going to control the game at some point,” said Wheeldon.

“We have threats that punish teams.”

Paulus said that the opening goal was set up by the fact that both of his central midfielders, James Marcelin and Ramon Soria, got caught up the field, opening the counterattack route for the Cavalry. But what concerned him even more was how quickly the game went from 1-0 to 3-0.

“To see the reaction from our players, to completely spit it at that point and mail in it is just not acceptable at this level of football. I take responsibility as a manager for that, so if it’s something I’m doing I’ve got to reassess that. You can’t win games at this level if one goal is going to break you down the way it broke us down. I’m not happy about our reaction to that goal against. We’re far from where we need to be.”