2021 CPL regular season — Match #106
FC Edmonton vs. Valour FC
November 6, 2021 at 3:30 pm ET/1:30pm MT
Clarke Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta
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Valour FC will head west to face the already-eliminated FC Edmonton Saturday afternoon in Phil Dos Santos’ final stab at locking up a spot in the 2021 playoffs.
Although a win earlier in the day by York United over Forge FC (1:00pm ET kickoff) could sink their post-season chances, there’s still a very real opportunity to make the final four – all they have to do is win on Saturday, which is their final match of the regular season.
Winnipeg gave that aforementioned playoff run a monumental boost last weekend with a historic 4-2 win over hosts Cavalry FC. No CPL club has ever scored four goals on the Cavs, with red hot striker William Akio providing two of the four. The result, coupled with a similarly important midweek win over HFX Wanderers, puts Dos Santos’ group two points back of fourth with one more match played. Valour needs all three points to at least leapfrog York, whose extra match will be against Forge again on Tuesday. If Valour were to advance to the playoffs, they’d need The Nine Stripes to collect no more than one point in both games against Forge.
“We know we don’t fully depend on ourselves so we addressed it like we did the last couple games,” Dos Santos said before the match. “It’s easy to have a team that’s motivated when you have two big wins like that as a group that wasn’t necessarily favoured to win to begin with.”
FC Edmonton, meantime, has been off since last Tuesday – a comprehensive 5-1 defeat to Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium on Vancouver Island. It was a disappointing loss following a string of promising late-season results for an Eddies team that has long outside of the playoff spots. Head coach Alan Koch said after the match he’s calling on his team to give a response in their two final home matches – starting on Saturday.
“There’s going to be the usual passion on the field,” Koch said. “We’re fighting to continue our progression and assess our players as we continue to move forward with our project.”
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3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- Valour leans on ‘humility and work ethic’: It’s all come down to this for Valour FC – win and there’s a chance of making their first post-season appearance in club history. While coach Dos Santos admits results out of their hands, including just before their match, can tip the scales the other way, the group does remain focused: “I reminded the guys that what gave us a chance at the playoffs in the first place – our humility and our work ethic,” Dos Santos said, referencing their massive 4-2 win over the Cavs. “We’re aware that it’s going to be a difficult one and we’re going to approach it the same way as the last few games with maximum professionalism and ambition to win the game.” Dos Santos revealed to CanPL.ca that players in Valour camp have attempted to address their future with the club to the coach – but Dos Santos isn’t listening just yet: “We still have a game to win.”
- Koch, FCE excited for meaningful contest: The Eddies have had a sparse end to the 2021 CPL schedule… Considering just how condensed it was to begin with as Alan Koch has led his team out just twice in 20 days. As well, Koch – who has long targeted 2022 as a more competitive year for this transitioning Eddies side – has had more time to inspect which players can make the cut for next season. A moral victory awaits, too, as the Eddies can spoil the season of their Western rivals with even a draw. “We’ve decided to maximize every opportunity between now and the finish line,” Koch said. “I love the fact that it’s a meaningful game for them, because that makes it a meaningful game for us.”FCE will close out the season next Saturday against Forge FC.
- Ongaro vs. Akio in season closer: All eyes will be on the centre-forwards Sunday as two potential difference-makers line up against one another. Valour’s William Akio arrives in Edmonton after being named CanPL.ca Player of the Month for October. The 23-year-old has scored five goals in the last five matches — including two last week against Cavalry. Meantime Eddies’ talismanic striker Easton Ongaro has had Valour’s number this season, scoring in three-of-five previous matchups – including the last two. Which of the two will make the difference in a crucial late-season tilt?
Valour FC wins: 5 || FC Edmonton wins: 3 || Draws: 3
October 2, 2021 — Valour 1-1 FC Edmonton
“I expect a very strong FC Edmonton and that’s the mindset… It will be a very difficult game. We won’t go in there thinking that that there are three points in the bag.” – Phil Dos Santos, Valour FC head coach
“We need to show a positive reaction from our last game, which was probably our most disappointing game of the season. When you see a reaction in a very meaningful game, it will mean just that much more.” – Alan Koch, FC Edmonton head coach