Guest writer: Nathan Terlesky
We’ve gone from a an Edmonton club who scores rarely and usually cheap or garbage goals to something different. FC Edmonton came into this game riding a high off of the 2-0 solid defeat of the Hamilton Forge, York United also came into this game in similar fashion, losing their first, and winning their second.
At the Loyal Company of the River Valley, we had slotted York to fall down to last place, and have been somewhat surprised with the offensive talent that they have shown already in the short season. That said, it is still early days, and most clubs are attempting to sort out their lines, treating this bubble as a type of preseason as well. Overall, the thought pattern for myself was nerves coming into this game, as the match congestion, along with a York team that was looking to score posed some questions for a tired FC Edmonton defense looking to withstand pressure for the third game in 8 days.
At kick off, Edmonton showed the cohesion that has become an Alan Koch trademark over 3 games, building up the play and showing confident passing and posession. While it didn’t result in much over the first half, Edmonton was again able to keep York stuck with minimal scoring chances and pressured them enough to at least attempt a few shots on net. At half the stats were remarkably similar between the two sides, and I’m sure that some fans were worrying that the previous game against Hamilton was a one-off.
Fortunately the second half started with another wave of pressure from the Rabbits. While York was able to resist and push Edmonton back, Fraser Aird decided to break the deadlock in the 52 minute. Taking the ball near half, he belted an absolute screamer past ex-Eddie Nathan Ingham, who managed to get a fingertip to the shot, but not enough to deal with the power of Aird. The long power shot has been seen in two games now for Edmonton and is a remarkable change in play from previous Edmonton seasons, where shots of this ilk would tend to raise up into the upper seating. Aird has done fantastic things to change the attack for Edmonton, opening up Esua to become more of a offensive threat, as well as to provide a stabilizing force on defense.
Speaking of defense, it unfortunately wasn’t long before York responded. Around 15 minutes after the Edmonton goal, Michael Petrasso danced into the Edmonton area and broke through a few challenges to score on a shot that Connor James had no chance on. While it was a remarkable play, and excellent shot, the story in the replay was Mele Temguia. The big center back has played for Edmonton since the club joined the Canadian Premier League, but was caught watching the ball on this play, leading to Petrasso breaking through and only having Connor James to beat. Unfortunately it was clear that Temguia was flatfooted for much of the second half, and the confidence only returned to the FC Edmonton backline when Amer Didic was subbed in to provide reinforcement.
You also can’t talk about this game without talking about Easton Ongaro’s penalty kick as well. Through it was admittedly a questionable decision to award the PK late in the game, as Hunter Gorskie was judged to be fouled in the York area, you’d like to see Easton do better. Hitting the post when Ingham guessed the wrong way was disappointing and reinforced the sense of two points dropped rather than a point saved. As has been pointed out on social media, sometimes your striker isn’t the right person to take a penalty!
Overall, it was another solid effort from Edmonton. If you had told many CPL fans before the season kicked off that Edmonton would be 1-1-1 and would be in third place, they wouldn’t have believed you. Instead, Alan Koch has taken a club and taken advantage of a short fast season so far to rise up to a solid midtable club. The heavy rotation has provided a clear look at what each player has to offer, and you can almost see where the standard starting eleven will end up when the games start to space out a bit.
Next up for Edmonton is the Halifax Wanderers, a club that is currently going through a small spell of injury, call ups and a head coach going through some health measures back in Halifax. There is an extended rest period for Edmonton as well, so it wouldn’t be unexpected to see the best of FCEd on the pitch for the game on July 10. Another high passing controlled game does give Edmonton the chance to move further up the table and set themselves up for solid positioning come the resumption of games in home markets on August.
If you’re interested in a quick breakdown of all the CPL games, as well as previews, banter and general uneducated takes on FCEd and the CPL, please check out the Loyal Company of the River Valley podcast. We are on all your pod-catchers and release new episodes every Wednesday morning.