Final Score: FC Edmonton 1-1 York United FC Goalscorers: Fraser Aird (52'), Michael Petrasso (67') Game of the 2021 season: 12 CPL match: 147
Match in a minute or less
After a cagey first half which saw both sides probing but not generating a litany of scoring opportunities, this game opened up in the second half. Fraser Aird put the Eddies on the board first with an outrageous strike from well outside the box, but York's Michael Petrasso, entering just after the first goal as a substitute, managed to equalize with a strong run and finish. A late chance for Edmonton from the penalty spot nearly gave them all three points, but Easton Ongaro hit the post with his attempt to keep the score knotted at one goal apiece.
Abzi continues to thrive in attacking roleYork United's most impactful off-season acquisition may end up being Terique Mohammed. The 21-year-old on loan from Dundalk is a natural left fullback -- and a darn good one at that -- and he has been very comfortable playing that position in each of York's three games this season. The crucial byproduct of that, though, is that Mohammed's capability in the backline has allowed Jimmy Brennan to put Diyaeddine Abzi in the attack as a left winger. Abzi may well be York's most talented player at the moment -- at the very least, he's the most in-form. He was strong both cutting in and delivering crosses from out side, and he was a real handful for Edmonton right-back Fraser Aird (who still had himself an excellent night). "It's part of our tactics in how we want to play and how we want to get at teams, and use the pace that we have, and the counter-attack," Brennan said after the game. "Abzi's thriving in that position." Abzi left the game in the last 10 minutes -- Brennan explained that he may even have wanted him off a little earlier, to preserve him after three exceptional efforts within a week -- but his imprint on the match was greater than perhaps anyone else's, despite not quite producing a final ball or pass to create a goal. His skill with the ball allowed him to combine well with Lowell Wright up front, and the two pacey attackers caused serious problems for the defenders on Edmonton's right side. Congestion in midfield slows tempo Stalemate really is the best term for this contest; the possession was near equal, and both sides sent 13 shots at the other. Certainly neither side was able to full command the game for an extended period of time. A staggering 52.6% of the match transpired within the middle third of the pitch, as both sides seemed to throw numbers into midfield; for Edmonton, Ramón Soria and Allan Zebie stood resolute in the centre as a double-pivot, while Jordan Wilson and Isaiah Johnston did likewise for York. The two clubs more or less matched each other with 4-4-2 formations in defence, meaning there was little space to break each other down. "First half we're just in our defensive structure, second half I think the game became pretty back and forth," offered York defender Dominick Zator. "In the end it just becomes who's more clinical. Third game in seven days, legs are starting to get tired and heavy." Games like these are often decided by bursts of individual quality, but both teams mustered one in this contest; Fraser Aird's goal (dubbed an "absolute rocket" by Brennan, who could do naught but shrug his shoulders at conceding a goal like that) put the Eddies up, but Michael Petrasso's run from the left kept it even. Ultimately, neither side was able to pull one last trick out of the bag. No one could move the ball fast enough from those central areas to truly threaten the other. Edmonton's frustration shows ambition Alan Koch was quite displeased with his team's performance on Sunday night. Despite going blow-for-blow with York in possession and shots, he wasn't happy with his team's effort on a night when, had Easton Ongaro scored his penalty kick, the Eddies might have walked away with all three points. "I don't think we were very good at all," he confessed in his postmatch press conference. "I don't think we came out with the required energy, mentality, application right from the start... We'll take the point, but that was our worst performance." Koch went on to add that his late introduction of Ongaro and Amer Didic was, to an extent, an attempt to "stop the bleeding" in a contest that was becoming an increasingly transitional affair, with York's energy perhaps putting Edmonton on the back foot a bit. With Didic coming in at centre-back, Koch moved Hunter Gorskie (wearing the captain's armband on Sunday) into the base of midfield for Zebie to try and cut off some of the quick balls while Didic patrolled the back in an effort to, as Koch put it, finish off the game. The Eddies are now 1-1-1 after a week of CPL play, but the level of frustration from Koch after a draw they very nearly turned into a victory shows just how high this team is aiming. That's not to say a team might be content with such a game, but for Koch to lead with such a sentiment indicates this Edmonton team has serious ambition to play a more cohesive, attacking brand of football.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchDiyaeddine Abzi, York United The 22-year-old was York's most lively player on Sunday, generating three shots of his own from the left wing position. He was constantly looking to cause trouble for Edmonton's right side, burning defenders with his pace and his electric dribbling ability. He was the club's main catalyst in attack with the way he surged forward, and he was easily the most entertaining player on the pitch. What's next? York United will move on to a midweek game, taking on the undefeated Valour FC on Wednesday, July 7 at 10 pm ET (9 pm CT). FC Edmonton, meanwhile, will have a few more days' rest, with their next contest coming on Saturday, July 10 with a match against HFX Wanderers FC (2 pm ET/1 pm CT). Watch all games live on OneSoccer.