Another soccer showdown in Alberta as Calvary FC host Pacific FC in CPL playoffs

Four days after Canada’s memorable World Cup qualifier victory over Mexico in the snow of Edmonton, there is another soccer matchup in Alberta.

Four days after Canada’s memorable World Cup qualifier victory over Mexico in the snow of Edmonton, there is another soccer matchup in Alberta.

Forecasts point to less severe conditions in Calgary on Saturday when Cavalry FC host Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League semi-finals. The ATCO field should be green, not white.

“But that doesn’t mean it won’t be cold and the ground will be tough,” cavalry trainer Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said happily.

A CPL season that started in late June, with all eight clubs playing in a Winnipeg bubble before returning to domestic markets, is now down to four teams and three games.

The cavalry face a familiar foe in the Pacific. The two have met seven times this season.

“It’s always a good tough battle,” said Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah. “We know each other inside and out. It will be a game of margins and little details that will rock this game. So I can’t wait.”

The Cavalry won the series of the season with a 3-2-1 record, remaining unbeaten at home (2-0-1). But Pacific won 1-0 in Calgary when the two met in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Championships in September.

The Cavalry (14-6-8, 50 points) finished second in the regular season standings, behind defending champion Forge FC (16-10-2, 50 points) on goal difference. Pacific (13-9-6, 45 points) led much of the season, eventually finishing third ahead of York United FC (8-8-12, 36 points).

Forge hosts York in the other semi-final on Sunday with the Championship game scheduled for November 27 or 28. The final could be postponed to Dec. 5 if Forge wins its semi-final and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Eastern semi-final on November 28.

Forge defeated the Cavalry in the two previous CPL finals. But Wheeldon has put his roster off season, with just seven or eight players remaining from the inaugural 2019 campaign.

Pacific ended the season winning just two of their last seven (2-5-0). Still, the Vancouver Island team won fans for their style of play and a run to the Canadian Championship that saw them knock out the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 before ultimately losing 2-1 to Toronto FC. in the semi-finals.

“I think Pacific has been brilliant,” said Wheeldon. “The better they are, the more it challenged us to raise our level of play… It’s not easy to beat clubs that have a higher (salary) cap than you and they have done so in a way. pretty convincing that night (against Vancouver) I think Dad and (associate head coach) James Merriman did a terrific job.

“They play a very offensive and offensive mark. I think what we learned against them is how to stop them. The last two games against them, we made sure that we became the protagonist.”

The Cavalry beat the Pacific 2-1 on October 21 and 1-0 on November 7 at ATCO Field before concluding the regular season with a 1-0 victory over defending champion Forge on November 16.

“We have moved in the right direction,” said Wheeldon. “I always said, even when we were in the bubble in Winnipeg, that we saw it a bit like a Tour de France, that we just had to stay in the field. We knew we would never leave the top four. We knew that once the playoff format arrived, it was our goal from the start to be in that top four. “

The team increased it as the season progressed, seeking to finish in the top two in order to gain the field advantage early in the playoffs.

So far, so good. The cavalry have lost only once in their last nine games (5-1-3).

Wheeldon is confident in the offensive prowess of his “fabulous four” – Joe Mason, Sergio Camargo, Ben Fisk and Mo Farsi. All four missed the regular season finale against Forge to be ready for the playoffs.

Mason has scored seven goals in 14 league games this season, adding another to the Canadian Championship.

“You give him just half a chance and it’s in… His move is just great. It’s a nightmare for center-backs,” Wheeldon said.

The 30-year-old England forward played for Plymouth Argyle, Cardiff City, Bolton Wanderers, Wolves, Burton Albion, Colorado Rapids, Portsmouth and Milton Keynes Dons before coming to Calgary in May.

His resume also includes a goal for Cardiff City against Liverpool in the 2012 League Cup Final ahead of 89,041 at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won on penalties after the tie ended 2-2.

There is a question mark over the health of Pacific star attacking midfielder Marcos Bustos.

“He’s running, he’s training. So that’ll be a game-day decision,” Kah said.

Pacific defender Lukas McNaughton is suspended.

The cavalry is missing midfielder Elliot Simmons (high ankle sprain).

The CPL playoffs will feature extra time if necessary. In the event of a tie after regulation time, the teams will play two periods of 15 minutes to determine the winner. If the score is still tied, the match will be decided by penalty shootout.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 19, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Comments are closed.