Editorial (May 12, 2019) – FC Edmonton had their home opener for their inaugural season in the Canadian Premier League on Sunday afternoon. They played host to Pacific FC who were playing their fourth match of the season, whilst it was only Edmonton’s second.
CPL: FC Edmonton and Pacific FC Battle it Out in a No Score Draw
Just over 4,200 fans filled Clarke Stadium on a warm Sunday afternoon, with a strong wind out of the northwest that caused long high kicks to hang in the air. Roman Soria admitted post-match that it did make cause problems with his corner kicks.
For FC Edmonton it had been eight days since their victory over Valour FC in Winnipeg, on May 4th. There, coach Jeff Paulus employed a 4-2-3-1 formation, and he used the same formation today with the same players. Captain, Tomi Ameobi, still did not play although he was on the bench. With Ameobi on the bench, it left Randy Edwini-Bonsu in the number nine spot.
For Pacific FC, they were still without their star forward Marcus Haber and their first-ever goal scorer, Hendrik Starostzik. With Haber and Starostzik missing, the size difference on the field was noticeable between the two sides.
First Half Opening
The Eddies started out the match with good ball possession in the opening minutes. Both sides were playing well defensively in the first ten. Ramon Soria had opportunities to make some free kicks after a foul on Son Yongchan in the 16th minute, and again one minute later on the outside edge of the box in PFC’s end. Neither ended up resulting in any chances
Red Card Philippe Lincourt-Joseph
In the 27th minute, Philippe Lincourt-Joseph was handed a red card after sliding in feet first in an attempt to get the ball. Both Lincourt-Joseph and PFC defender Ryan McCurdy both slid feet first. McCurdy knocked the ball away while Lincourt-Joseph hit McCurdy cleats up. Eddies played the next 60-plus minutes down with 10 men.
In the post-match press conference, Paulus said, “that anytime you see a foot go over the ball and strike a player’s leg, it has to be a red card consideration.” If it had been against his own team, he would have called for it himself. Paulus didn’t think Lincourt-Joseph was trying to be malicious in any way but trying to get control of the ball back. “[Lincourt-Joseph] is an honest player.”
Zebie Subbed for Zebie
Just before half-time, Allan Zebie went down with an injury. His younger brother, Bruno Zebie came in as the substitute for Allan Zebie. Paulus was pleased with how the younger Zebie stepped up when he came in to play to get his first serious game minutes. “What a job he’s done to come in, so [I’m] delighted for the kid.”
Bruno had been a very late sub against Valour FC the previous week.
The second half saw the Eddies come out strong, pressing hard, and getting lots of chances through set pieces. Son had numerous long throw-ins creating and some corner kicks that helped create several chances.
PFC defended well with several blocked shots or cleared balls.
Oumar Diouck had great corner kick in the 69th minute after getting fouled himself. He kept it low and curved it in towards the corner, but it was blocked.
Rookie Goalkeeper Starts Again
Connor James received the nod to start in goal again for his second consecutive start this season. Although the match did not end up being the shooting gallery he faced against Valour FC, he still had to make a few key saves to keep his team in it this afternoon.
One of the best chances that Pacific had was in the 72nd minute after Diouck turned over the ball at centre field with a poor back pass. Terran Campbell for PFC picked it up, went around Mele Temguia, and was hauled down by James Marcelin, setting up a free-kick for Pacific.
Zachary Verhoven, Pacific midfielder took the free-kick. The ball deflected off Campbell and bounced towards the net. James had to come out and snatch it away from an attacking Pacific FC player.
As in Winnipeg, James played aggressively when needed, coming out of his net several times late in the match to smother the ball or make key saves.
He had a beautiful save off of former-Eddie Ben Fisk in the 76th minute. After the save Fisk was deemed offside.
Draw Despite Being Down
FC Edmonton managed to battle it out for a 0-0 draw despite being down a man for over 60-minutes. They played aggressively after receiving the red card, pressing hard, and creating chances – especially off the set-piece plays.
Kareem Moses, playing fullback on Sunday, after the game said, “Even with 10 men we know we are the better team, and we know we had the momentum. We actually looked like we had 11 players, and we kept that going.”
Ben Fisk, forward for PFC, mentioned post-match that it was disappointing not to come away with the win, especially after the Eddies were down a player. He was quite pleased to return to Edmonton, where he has played previously with FC Edmonton in the former North American Soccer League. He appreciated the welcome he received from the Edmonton Fans.
On the Road versus Cavalry FC
FC Edmonton is on the road next weekend to play Cavalry FC after a five-day break. Given the recent performance of top-of-the-table Cavalry squad, this may prove to be the toughest match yet for the Edmonton squad. Cavalry FC is coming off of their third-straight win after defeating Forge FC 2-1 on Sunday.
The game is Saturday, May 18, at 4 PM MDT at Spruce Meadows.