Final Score: FC Edmonton 0-0 Valour FC Game of the 2021 season: 45 CPL match: 180

Match in a minute or less

Thursday's match between FC Edmonton and Valour FC was a battle of the defences, as the two sides each earned a point with a 0-0 draw at Clarke Stadium. Matt Silva and Connor James made some important saves in either goal, and the defenders in front of them were solid all night long as Valour moved within three points of first-place Pacific FC (and two back of second-place Cavalry FC) with their first draw of the season. It also ended a four-game losing run for them, while FC Edmonton picked up a second draw in a row to move up to 13 points through 12 games in sixth place.

Three Observations

Valour looking forward to going home to IG Field After four games on the road after hosting The Kickoff, and not being able to see their families while they were in the season-opening bubble environment, it's been a long few weeks for Valour FC. In the bubble they were on a roll, winning six of eight matches and sitting at the top of the table, but have lost three of the four matches since (Thursday's draw being the exception). They finally get to return home ahead of a match at IG Field on Monday against Pacific FC, and they can't wait. "There's nothing like playing on your home field," said goalkeeper Matt Silva after Thursday's match. "Nothing like sleeping in your own bed, your own pillow, your own food, seeing loved ones, stuff like that." "Cannot wait," head coach Rob Gale said multiple times with a smile on his face. "Cannot wait to spend some time with my kids -- it's been eight weeks pretty much outside of home for all of us. It's absolutely mentally grueling, playing games every three or four days is physically demanding, and games where you lost by the odd mistake or the odd goal. "It challenges the group, but they stayed together, their confidence has never waned, their willingness to buy into the gameplan has never waned." New FC Edmonton signings impress in debut FC Edmonton signed a pair of midfielders this past week -- Afghanistan international Adam Najem and American youth international Azriel Gonzalez on loan from Tacoma Defiance. Najem started the game and put in a shift in midfield before being replaced by Gonzalez around the hour mark. Playing on the left side of a 4-man midfield, Najem completed 90.3% of his passes (28/31), which led all players who started the match for Edmonton. He also had a shot inside the box in the first half, but didn't strike it well, and it sailed high and wide of the Valour net. Gonzalez completed 10 of his 13 passes off the bench, also creating a chance for the Eddies to score with a key pass, but it didn't lead to a goal. Both players looked good in their debuts, especially considering they only signed with the club this week, according to FC Edmonton goalkeeping coach Lars Hirschfeld. "I thought they did really well, it's not easy to come into a new team environment where they don't know the system," said Hirschfeld. "They integrated really quickly. It started with the work rate that they did, and the quality on the ball. It looked like they've been with the team for quite a bit of time." Matt Silva and Valour backline earn their side a much-needed point After four consecutive defeats, Valour broke their losing streak on Thursday, thanks in large part to a big effort from their backline and goalkeeper Matt Silva. Silva made four saves on the night, also making two claims on balls into the box. His best save of the night came with moments left in the match, an athletic save to push a Matthew Durrans header away from danger and keep the 0-0 scoreline intact. The players in front of him were impressive as well, with Rocco Romeo and Brett Levis blocking a shot each, and the team making 14 clearances -- five by Romeo -- in what was a total team effort on defence. Head coach Rob Gale has said on multiple occasions that Silva is a goalkeeper capable of starting in the CPL, and he certainly played that way on Thursday, but has had two very good players ahead of him during his two seasons in Winnipeg. Gale wasn't surprised by Silva's performance. "I have full trust in Matt," Gale said after the match. "He's just been unlucky that two ahead of him have been James Pantemis, who's a national team goalie and an MLS starting-level goalkeeper, and [Jonathan] Sirois, who has been magnificent all season." Silva deflected a lot of praise to those in front of him, but was also happy with his performance. "The guys were great back there, I couldn't have done it on my own," he said after the match. "I think every keeper knows that they're responsible to make one or two saves to keep their team in the game, but the guys had countless times where they made last-ditch tackles, headers against guys who are way bigger than they are, stuff like that. "The clean sheet is something that the whole team gets, so I'm proud of everybody." Player of the Match

Matt Silva, Valour FC Valour FC goalkeeper Matt Silva made several big stops on Thursday, including a game-saving one with moments left in the match to preserve his clean sheet.

What's next?​

FC Edmonton are in action again this weekend, but in the Canadian Championship. They'll take on Alberta rivals Cavalry FC on Sunday, August 15 (3 pm MT/ 5 pm ET). Valour host Pacific FC in CPL action a day later on August 16 (7 pm CT/ 8 pm ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.

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