YEAR IN REVIEW: Cavalry FC’s Wheeldon Jr. sticks with what he knows ahead of 2019

Of all the CPL setups across Canada, Cavalry FC’s might be the most intriguing ahead of the league’s inaugural season.

Spruce Meadows is poised to offer one of the most unique professional soccer experiences in North America.

What’s more, coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. is building a squad with a base layer of familiarity before potentially adding a few difference-makers at key positions.

Let’s take a look back at what was a busy year out west.

May 2018:

On May 17, 2018, Spruce Meadows Sports & Entertainment unveiled Cavalry FC in front of onlooking media and supporters at Spruce Meadows, the iconic equestrian venue situated on Calgary’s southern limit.

The historic venue was announced as the club’s home, with officials unveiling plans to turn an impressive showjumping ring into a professional soccer stadium.

CPL and Cavalry FC executives officially bring professional soccer back to Calgary. (CPL)

Tommy Wheeldon Jr. was also unveiled as the club’s head coach.

Wheeldon, who became the first coach in CPL history, came to the club following a championship season with Calgary Foothills FC.

September 2018

Sergio Camargo controls the ball for Cavalry FC’s prospects squad during the first leg of Al Classico. (Spruce Meadows Media Services)

As the first CPL club to name a coach, Cavalry was also the first to flesh out its coaching staff. Martin Nash, a former member of the Canadian national team, was given the title of assistant coach while Calgarian Jordan Santiago joined as goalkeeper coach.

FC Edmonton and Cavalry FC gave supporters a taste of their future CPL rivalry on Sept. 29, with the first leg of their Al Classico series at Spruce Meadows. The two CPL sides booked a home-and-away tie, featuring two squads of local prospects to give fans and staff a taste of what’s to come in 2019.

The first match ended in a 2-2 draw.

The second leg was set to take place at Clarke Stadium on Oct. 20.

October 2018

Alex in Calgary
Trials lead coach Alex Bunbury addresses players in Alberta. (CPL)

The #GotGame Open Trials made its way to Calgary in October, giving local talent a chance to show their skills in the penultimate stop.

Meanwhile, Cavalry FC managed to edge FC Edmonton on penalties in the second leg of their Al Classico preview at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, overtaking the Eddies 3-2 from the spot after the match ended 1-1 (3-3 on aggregate).

November 2018

Ledgerwood and Camargo reveal
Nik Ledgerwood (L) and Sergio Camargo. (CPL)

On Nov. 29, Sergio Camargo and Nik Ledgerwood became Cavalry FC’s first signings, following Tommy Wheeldon Jr. from his PDL-champion Calgary Foothills side to the city’s pro club.

Ledgerwood, who has amassed 50 caps for the Canadian men’s national team, comes to the club following a year with Foothills FC under Wheeldon. The 33-year-old Lethbridge, Alta. native was the most experienced player of the CPL’s first 10 signings, having spent well over a decade in Germany’s top leagues.

Camargo, 25, also spent time with Foothills last season. The Toronto FC product said he had already felt “at home” in Calgary, adding that the club has taken him in “with open arms.”

Cavalry FC selected Carleton striker Gabriel Bitar first overall in the inaugural CPL-U SPORTS Draft. The 5-foot-9 Bitar scored an impressive 16 goals en route to being named U SPORTS Rookie of the Year this season. Cavalry also selected Trinity Western’s fifth-year midfielder Joel Waterman (14th overall) and University of Alberta second-year striker Easton Ongaro (15th overall).

December 2018

From Left To Right: Chris Serban, Marco Carducci, Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Dominick Zator and Elijah Adekugbe. (CPL)
From Left To Right: Chris Serban, Marco Carducci, Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Dominick Zator and Elijah Adekugbe. (CPL)

Wheeldon Jr. awarded another four of his former players big promotions on Dec. 12, promoting a set of local Calgarians.

Fullback Chris Serban, goalkeeper Marco Carducci, centreback Dominick Zator and Elijah Adekugbe were added to CFC’s squad.

Carducci, 22, who was the first goalkeeper signed in CPL history, has represented Canada at every youth level and is keen to make a return to the national team setup.