Canadian Premier League: FC Edmonton is Back!

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FC Edmonton Canadian Premier League Volkswagen

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (May 5, 2019) — According to the River Valley Vanguard (RVV), it has been 554 days since the Eddies have played soccer. In 2017, FC Edmonton was playing the in the now-folded North American Soccer League. Saturday, they debuted in their inaugural match in the Canadian Premier League.

Canadian Premier League: FC Edmonton is Back

A contingent of FC Edmonton supporters, members of the RVV, travelled to Winnipeg to catch the match against Valour FC. Eager to witness the teams first match in over a year, the group was hopeful as a rabbit was spotted. This is a positive omen harking back to 2011 when a rabbit hopped onto the field, bringing good luck to the team.

While the RVV was in Winnipeg, a couple of hundred supporters packed the Urban Tavern on Jasper Avenue Edmonton. They were on hand to witness the Eddies’ inaugural match.  Not only was this the inaugural CPL match for the team, but it was also the first qualifying match in the CPL for the 2019 CONCACAF League.

CONCACAF

The CPL was given the opportunity to send a team to the CONCACAF League in 2019. FC Edmonton, Valour FC and Forge FC have the opportunity to qualify. The team with the best record, in head-to-head action, will earn the spot in the qualifying round of the competition.

The top five clubs of CL get to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League. The winner of the CPL will compete in the CL in 2020 and beyond. This is a potential second route for a CPL team to make CCL. Meanwhile, the winners of the Voyageur Cup in the Canadian Championships.

Last Team to Play

A week after the league’s first-ever match, FC Edmonton was the last team to take to the pitch. Many pundits over the last several months had not paid much attention to FC Edmonton. Meanwhile, the team had not made any big name signings like a Kyle Bekker or a Marcel DeJong.

A majority of the team has been made up of former FC Edmonton players, Academy players or local Edmonton citizens. Head coach Jeff Paulus had a plan to fill the team with young local talent from the very beginning. This philosophy was reinforced by last week’s signing of Easton Ongaro, a Cavalry FC U-Sport Draft pick who opted to sign with his hometown team.

Captain Out

Tomi Ameobi, captain of FC Edmonton, did not make the trip to Winnipeg as he was out with an unspecified injury. Roman Soria, the midfielder acquired as a free agent from Spain, took on the role of captain.

Rookie Goalkeeper to Start

In what some fans felt was a bold move, causing some to be uneasy, Paulus started rookie University of Alberta goalkeeper Connor James.

James played a brave and aggressive game, putting concerned fans at ease. He frequently came out to challenge Valour forwards bearing down on the Eddies goal. James made some incredible saves, with only one ball nearly making it by him on a Valour challenge, but centreback Amer Didic, acquired from San Antonio FC on April 15, came in to deflect the loose ball away in the 19th minute.

Tactical Formation

Paulus aligned his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Centrebacks were Didic and Mele Temguia, with Kareem Moses and Allan Zebie on the flanks. Meanwhile, James Marcelin and Soria partnered up in front of the defense with Jeannot Esua, Philippe Lincourt-Joseph and Yong-Chan Son, rounding out the midfield. Meanwhile, Randy Edwini-Bonsu was placed as the striker.

First Half

The Eddies came out strong, pressing hard to begin the match, possessing well and attacking early. Early on, Edwini-Bonsu tried to set up Son Yong-chan, but Valour’s defense broke up the play.

Nearly two-thirds of the way through the first half Valour had an excellent chance after Didic tried passing it back to the keeper, but it wasn’t hard enough. After a strong start, Edmonton started to sit back. Just before extra-time, what had started out as an Eddies’ game was now a Valour-dominated game with Valour having 54 percent of the possession.

Two minutes of extra time were added on to the half, and it was during this time that Eddies’ supporters finally got their wish. Edwini-Bonsu made a pass to Temguia, who put the ball in the back of the net with a left-footed kick.

This late-in-the-half goal was a tremendous end to a half that could have easily gone the other way, as Valour had had numerous chances on turnovers.

Second Half

The start of the second half saw Edwini-Bonsu own the ball for a large amount of time. He had many attempts deep in Valour’s zone with a few near misses. Oumar Diouck, the Belgian forward, replaced Edwini-Bonsu in the 65th minute, shortly after a beautiful tackle by Allan Zebie on a Valour attempt to go deep into Edmonton territory.

The move to bring on Diouck would prove fortunate. On an Edmonton corner kick in the 76th minute, Soria placed a nice ball into the box. After the ball deflected off another Edmonton forward, Diouck put it in.

In the 82nd minute, Valour attempted to score with a header that went over the net.  Three minutes later, Valour got their chance when they were awarded a penalty kick.  Valour’s Patrasso took the kick, putting it in the left side of the net, while James went right.

This proved to be the last of the action, as FC Edmonton went on to win their first match in the Canadian Premier League 2-1.

Fan and Player Reaction

Fans had much to celebrate after their team’s first victory. Club owner, Tom Fath, was all smiles as the supporters gathered at the Urban Tavern celebrated the victory. Meanwhile, Randy Edwini-Bonsu posted to Twitter the team celebrating a much-deserved victory in the dressing room post game.

After talking to some fans after the match, they are now evermore hopeful in their club’s chances this season with this first victory. They believe this will surely have some pundits rethinking their views on FC Edmonton.

Welcome back to Eddies soccer!

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