As any good relationship guru, salesman, or HR consultant can attest to, if both parties are just a little unhappy, that’s the telltale mark of a good deal.
It’s the end result, of course, of compromise – and, in that spirit, perhaps a 1-1 draw between FC Edmonton and Forge FC on Saturday at Clarke Field is more than fair for both outfits.
Not that FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus or Forge boss Bobby Smyrniotis will have wanted to settle for a draw before kick-off. These two teams, chasing Cavalry and York9 for the Fall winner’s berth, will have circled this particular matchup as being more important than most, especially when the league’s standings remain tight at the top.
But, after an 86th-minute go-ahead by Forge captain Kyle Bekker, coupled with a 90+ minute equalizer by young striker Easton Ongaro, a 1-1 draw also leaves both managers wanting for more.
“It’s two points lost today for us,” Paulus said after the match. “We did everything we had to do to win the game, defended well, created some opportunities again, so yeah, I feel we’ve lost two points.”
What say you, Bobby?
“When you score in the 86th minute, a lot of times you think you’ve gotten the three points,” Smyrniotis offered, post-match. “Like I finished telling the guys, this wasn’t our best game. It wasn’t indicative of the way we play and the way we want to go about things. We almost did steal three points coming from here. It’s disappointing that we give up that goal late, but when you look at the overall picture, maybe a tie was the best result.”
For Bekker – who captained his Forge team through a bit of a strange pre-game routine compounded by weather delays in Edmonton – this result, or at least the feeling it leaves behind, doesn’t exactly feel new. Forge has been conceding preventable goals, which have offset their positive attacking play, all season long.
To that end, Bekker issued a message to his teammates: “We’ve gotta see games out.”
“Obviously, it wasn’t the best performance from the guys,” Bekker said after the match. “I think we were just missing a little bit of that final push, a little bit of that bite to see it over the line. But that’s what you’ve got to do to be a top team.”
Whether this 1-1 draw will have further implications or not remains to be seen – and will only be evident when the Fall portion of the 2019 season nears its eventual conclusion on Oct. 19, and whatever points separating teams at the top become much more valuable.
When these two coaches look back on their campaigns, perhaps this result will be one of the handful they’ll identify as a missed opportunity.
“This is a tight league – every game is winnable and losable, for every team here,” Paulus offered, to that end.
He added: “We have to be better in front of goal. At the end of the day, we can’t make excuses – we’ve not scored all year when we need to, and it’s coming back to haunt us now.”