Usually a brutally-honest coach, Paulus seemed unusually content with the loss in the team’s first match in over 300 days due to COVID-19 delays.
Something in the water in Prince Edward Island?
“It was just an unlucky break for us. Looking back, it was a wonder-goal (Kwame Awuah’s opener for Forge) and a bit of fortune (an injury-time own goal) to beat us there today. We can live with it,” Paulus admitted
The Eddies stood tall at the back, keeping the 2019 CPL champions to a few half-chances through a middle block.
Amer Didic had a solid game, though only for the first hour. Edmonton played the last 30 minutes without the star defender after he was helped off the pitch with a foot/ankle injury. Paulus admitted the injury looked “a sore one,” but didn’t have an update after the match.
The Eddies nearly equalized five minutes later when Kareem Moses’ header off a free kick smacked the crossbar. Moses scored an own goal with a deflection off a free kick in injury time to seal the win for Forge.
“I expected us to be hard to break down today. We have a very strong defensive unit,” Paulus said.
“That being said, I was hoping to see a result after that first half – whether it was one or three points. Those bounces went against us today, especially when they came off the post and crossbar.”
The Eddies saw a few impressive team debuts on Sunday, specifically from midfielder Erik Zetterberg and attacker Keven Alemán. Zetterberg made his long-awaited first appearance since arriving in Canada from Sweden months ago.
“He has such a high IQ, gets the ball into dangerous places,” Paulus said in reference to the Swede’s team-leading 25 completed passes in the opposition half. “He uses his energy well and that’ll be a useful thing for us in a season like this.”
Zetterberg and Alemán connected on five occasions, as the former Canadian international helped narrow the space between a sometimes distant midfield.
“Aleman is a special player. He gets himself into pockets, he works so hard in those transition moments,” Paulus offered. “When you have a player like that with his work rate, it’s clear to see he’s a complete footballer. It’s a player who will get stronger and stronger as the tournament goes on.”
Alemán admitted to a difficult outing physically – attributed to his personal a 10-month layoff from training or matches.
“There were nerves from me, to be honest,” Aleman said.
“It was a little hard… but we have such a good team and we didn’t play to our potential. I don’t think Forge had anything on us. We got stuck in between a middle block where we were too far to get out and too far to track back. We’ll have to change this for the next match.”