A new chapter in FC Edmonton’s history began in Winnipeg as the Eddies beat Valour FC by a 2-1 score line in their first match in Canadian Premier League history (CPL).
There was more at stake in this CPL match than just three points. It was also the first match for CONCACAF League qualifying. Essentially Forge FC, FC Edmonton, and Valour FC will play in a round robin and the best of the three progress to the next stage.
It was a game that showcased Edmonton’s character and their team-spirit. Their character was on full-display as they were forced to hold their shape and defend during phases of the game. It also showcased the teams experience and professionalism as they showed real maturity throughout the match, especially when Valour pulled one back in the final 10-minutes of the match.
“First of all, well done to Winnipeg for coming out and supporting this club,” Paulus told OneSoccer post-game. “There was a fantastic atmosphere here today. First half was a tough half for us, not really the way we wanted to start. We allowed them to press us with our negative passes. We kind of gave them that first half by letting them play how they want to play.”
Connor James made his professional debut and he was the best player for FC Edmonton. The academy graduate made several saves throughout that match and was my Man of the Match. The biggest save was on Dylan Sacramento in the early stages of the match. He also denied Michael Petrasso from in-close before his defence cleared the ensuing scramble off the line.
The goals came from Mele Temguia and Omar Diouck, each goal originated from a set piece. For the first goal, after Valour cleared the initial corner, the ball fell to Edmonton captain Ramon Soria, who played a nice pass out wide to Edwini-Bonsu. The winger put in a great low-cross which was flicked on target but saved by Farago, but the rebound fell to Temguia who had an easy tap in.
Their second goal start from Soria again, who curled in an in-swinging cross to the near post. Amer Didic connected with a glancing header that went towards the back post, where Diouck was waiting for an easy tap in with his head.
Valour eventually pulled one back in the final 10 minutes of the match through a penalty kick. Michael Petrasso stepped up and took responsibility as he fired one past James, who would have wanted to keep a clean sheet.
There were a lot of positives for FC Edmonton. The backline, especially Didic and Temguia looked very comfortable in defence and they also looked very comfortable in possession. The Eddies did struggle in the wide-areas, though. In particular, on their right-side where Kareem Moses was playing. Allan Zebie had a strong game in left-back, making some vital tackles in the second half.
“We didn’t deal well with Petrasso’s movement,” Paulus told OneSoccer post-game. “Especially on our right side and they created overloads there that we struggled with in the first half. I believe in the young keepers we have signed and Connor James showed today that he validated that belief. Our backline is solid, and now with the addition of Didic to what I already said was a strong backline. They were composed for the most part and they took a lot of pressure but they held strong.”
In midfield, you could say the same for Soria and James Marcelin, who defended bravely when they had to and they brought a sense of calmness in midfield. Their ability to keep the ball and break the midfield line was impressive and they read the game very well.
Going forward Edwini-Bonsu looked good despite having to play as a striker with his back to goal. He brought a lot of energy up-top and pressed the Valour defence well, forcing them to lose the ball or make rash decisions. Jeannot Esua was a menace down the wing, he got himself in good positions, but he will need to do a bit better with the final delivery.
Paulus’ men looked very comfortable from defending in wide areas. Their defensive and midfield core are players with a lot of height and strength. Between Didic and Temguia, they didn’t have any problems defending crosses. And on the other end, they both looked a real threat on set-pieces.
When you throw in Ameobi, who missed out due to injury, Edmonton have a big team and they’ll be hard to defend against whenever they have a set-piece. It will also allow Edwini-Bonsu to show why he’s be labelled as one of the most dangerous wingers in the league.