It was yet again another entertaining weekend in the CPL. Despite Valour against Forge being postponed due to COVID protocol, the week saw multiple teams play their first game at home, goals at the very start, and very end of games, yet another sending-off, and a shakeup to the standings when it was all said and done. We start the recap with the round’s first fixture, Edmonton versus Pacific at Clarke Stadium.
Edmonton 0 – Pacific 0
After thirteen games and four weeks, the CPL 2022 season finally had its first scoreless draw, as Edmonton and Pacific couldn’t be separated at Clarke stadium. It was the underdog home side who had the first chance at the fourteenth-minute mark. Midfielder Mamadi Camara won the ball in midfield, and after linking up Tobias Warschewski, Camara drove into the box where his low curling effort forced a save from pacific keeper Callum Irving.
The visitors would threaten just a minute later. Playmakers Kamron Habibullah and Manny Aparicio lead a counter-attack, with Aparicio’s driving run forcing a save from Edmonton’s Andreas Vaikla before Marco Bustos could only put the ensuing rebound wide.
The league leaders and current CPL champions would have the better of the chances in the first half. From the wing, league joint top scorer Alejandro Díaz played in Aparicio, whose cross into the box found Sean Young in the thirty-ninth-minute. The midfielder’s effort nearly forced a costly mistake from Vaikla, who couldn’t hold the initial effort. Vaikla would follow it up with a much more impressive save four minutes later. Defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguère played a defence-splitting ball through to Diaz, who helped it onto Bustos. One-on-one with the keeper, Vaikla stood tall to deny Bustos with his chest, and keep the scoreline poised going into the second half.
Edmonton had a golden chance a minute into the second half, thanks to a free-kick opportunity just outside the box. Winger Azriel Gonzalez stepped up and his right footed effort went just wide of the target. Pacific, throughout the game, would dominate possession. Sixty-six minutes in, Edmonton would force Irving into action. Mastanabal Kacher played the ball to midfielder Gabriel Bitar, and the Ottawa native got to the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that forced Irving to tip the ball over his bar.
Pacific’s best chances would come towards the end of the game. With seven minutes left, Young and Aparicio combined to release Busto towards the Edmonton byline, and with no defenders around him, Bustos fired a dangerous ball across the goal, but no Pacific players were able to connect with the chance. Two minutes later, the Vancouver Islanders had a free-kick, and Bustos flighted it into the path of former Edmonton defender Amer Đidić. Vailka came out to collect the cross, but couldn’t get a clean hold of it, forcing a goal-line clearance from Cale Loughrey for Edmonton as they held on for a 0-0 draw.
Despite having just 29 percent possession and nearly 400 fewer passes than Pacific, Edmonton went pound for pound with the CPL champions in a game that will further help to build their confidence and team spirit ahead of an Atlantic coast showdown with HFX later in the week.
York United 2 – Atlético Ottawa 2
There was late drama at York Lions Stadium, and despite being down to ten men, the home side York United salvaged a point against their provincial rivals, Atletico Ottawa. In a tight first half, the home side had a great chance just seven minutes in from a Diyaeddine Abzi cross. The fullbacks cross from the left wing was perfect, and found Oliver Minatelin seven yards from the goal, but his header went straight towards Ottawa keeper Nathan Ingham.
After that early chance, the first half was one mostly of half-chances, with Atlético’s best chance coming just before halftime. Ballou Tabla intercepted a pass from York centre back Rodger Thompson, and drove towards goal, setting up midfielder Zach Verhoven with the BC native’s shot from outside the box going just over the bar.
The second half was a much more open affair. Just three minutes into the half, Mouhamadou Kane’s cross from the right-wing was knocked on by Osaze De Rosario towards Sebastián Gutiérrez, and the winger’s overhead kick went just wide of the bottom right corner. Then, just two minutes later, after some nice passing play by Ottawa, midfielder Ollie Bassett’s threaded the ball to Verhoven, and from the edge of the box, he played in striker Brian Wright, who made no mistake slotting the ball passed Niko Giantsopoulos in the York goal, to make it 1-0 Ottawa.
Twelve minutes later, Bassett, who helped to set up the opening goal, had a moment to forget. With the ball at his feet in his own half, he inadvertently passed the ball straight to Kane, who played a through ball into the box for De Rosario, and after Ingham was alleged to have illegally brought him down, the referee pointed to the spot. Stepping up to the spot, De Rosario made no mistake in making the score 1-1.
York would have a good chance five minutes later when Abzi’s ball upfield allowed substitute Lowell Wright to charge with the ball upfield into the box, setting up Isaiah Johnston with a shooting chance, but Johnston’s effort was deflected wide by Ottawa’s Ben McKendry.
The game would calm down for a while with United struggling to break passed Atlético’s organized two banks of four. It looks like a mistake would be needed to separate these two sides, and it eventually came to form a surprising figure. From an Ingham goal kick on the eighty-fifth minute, the ball made its way deep into York territory, and Abzi guided the loose ball towards his goal, however, his pass went wayward, and Ottawa’s Tabla intercepted the ball and found himself one-on-one with the keeper, slotting the ball home to give Ottawa a go-ahead goal.
York’s task got even tougher when Cédric Toussaint was deemed to have stamped on Chris Mannella and was shown a red card on the eighty-ninth minute. Deep into added time, York won a free-kick out wide, which the York Verhoeven, Noah Verhoeven flighted in and in the ensuing confusion, the ball fell to the feet of United centre back Dominick Zator, who fired the ball past Ingham to score a dramatic equalizer and rescue a point for York.
HFX Wanderers 3 – Edmonton 1
A gruelling week of travel for Edmonton came to end in Halifax with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of HFX at The Wanderers Ground. Having played three games in three time zones in just a week, Edmonton made a bright start to this game, just seven minutes in. Wesley Timoteo and Julian Ulbricht linked up to play in Kairo Coore in the box, and almost immediately, he was taken down by HFX fullback Obeng Tabi for an early penalty. Ulbricht stepped up and got his goal-scoring season off the mark, smartly putting the penalty away to give Edmonton the lead.
Having given away his second penalty in as many games, Tabi went a long way to making up for it with a deep cross into the box that Edmonton’s Terique Mohammed couldn’t deal with, allowing Corey Bent to get a shot on target. His shot squeezed past Andreas Vaikla and before Luke Singh could clear it, the ball crossed the line making it 1-1 after sixteen minutes.
Having equalized, HFX was now pushing to take the lead. Two minutes after Bent’s goal, midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé flighted a free-kick into the box, which was met by HFX captain Andre Rampersad, who forced a reflex save from Vaikla. Edmonton themselves would have a great chance in the thrifty-eighth minute. Timoteo’s deflected cross was headed on by Mamadi Camara into the box, and with the goal in front of him, Edmonton winger Kairo Coore dragged his shot wide to the left of the goal, to leave the score at 1-1 going into the second half.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, midfielder Pierre Lamothe pinged a ball from midfield out wide to fullback Zachary Fernandez, who headed the ball perfectly into the path of forward Sam Salter. Salter finished well to get his first goal of the season, and give the home side the lead, the first time since October 3rd, 2021 they had scored more than one goal in a game. Just ten minutes later, Fernandez once again would be involved in a goal-scoring chance. From Mateo Restrepo‘s long ball, Fernandez ran on to it and found himself in Edmonton’s box. Vaikla came running out and collided with him, forcing the ref to once again point to the spot.
HFX’s top scorer from 2020, Akeem Garcia, took the spot-kick and sent Vaikla the wrong way, giving HFX a 3-1 lead and their first three-goal game since September 6th, 2021. HFX will be delighted to have three forwards score with Morelli out for the season, and it gave them their first win since the opening day ahead of a trip to Winnipeg to take on Valour.
Cavalry 2 – Pacific 0
Cavalry got their first win of the season, with a lighting fast start that was enough to put them past league leaders, Pacific. Looking to get revenge for last season’s controversial CPL semi-final defeat to Pacific, the home side made a dream start to the match when just a minute in, Victor Loturi played the ball forward for Ali Musse. Musse drove forward before playing the ball to Joe Mason out wide. Mason linked up with José Escalante, and from just outside the six-yard box, Escalante set up Musse to fire the ball home and give Cavalry a lead with just seventy-five seconds on the clock.
Looking to respond, Pacific won a free-kick thirty yards out. Manny Aparicio struck it well and cleanly, but could only aim straight into the hands of Cavalry keeper Marco Carducci, who was making his season debut after battling testicular cancer in the offseason.
In the thirty-sixth minute, Pacific played themselves into trouble. Fullback Nathan Mavila gave the ball away to Jean-Aniel Assi just outside his own penalty area. Assi poked the ball into the direction of Mason, and the striker made no mistake from the edge of the box to place the ball into the top left corner passed Callum Irving in Pacific’s goal to double the lead. Just before halftime, Cavalry came close again from a Fraser Aird corner. The ball was swung in towards the near post, and despite getting to the ball first, Cavs defender Mason Trafford could only direct his glancing header just wide of the near post.
At the hour mark, Pacific had a great chance to pull one back through Marco Bustos. The Pacific playmaker burst forward, and after a couple of lucky breaks of the ball, found himself in the box with a scoring opportunity. After setting himself up, Bustos fired low, but Carducci was more than a match for his effort to deny Pacific a goal. The Vancouver Islanders would have another great chance on the seventy-forth minute, they had a free-kick just twenty yards out and perfect for a right-footed effort. Substitute Gianni dos Santos stepped up but was left frustrated as he struck his effort too high.
A frustrating day up top for Pacific was summarised in the 90th minute. From out wide, Kamron Habibullah collected the ball near the Cavalry byline, and the teenager made space for himself in the box before flighting the ball to dos Santos to head the ball towards goal, however, his effort would go just wide. Pacific finish their Alberta road trip with one point and no goals scored, but crucially remain on top of the table. Cavalry, meanwhile, finally have their season up and running and will look to build momentum in their upcoming derby game with Edmonton next week.
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