Score: Valour FC 1-1 FC Edmonton Goalscorers: Akio 90+4'; Camara 32' Game of the 2022 season: 35 CPL match: 286​

Match in a Minute or Less:

FC Edmonton were seconds away from their first win of the season at IG Field on Sunday, but a last-second header from Valour's William Akio rescued a point for his side. Mamadi Camara opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, slotting the ball past Jonathan Sirois after a lung-busting run from Gabriel Bitar to take the ball from deep in his own half all the way to the other end of the pitch and thread a pass to his teammate. From there The Eddies were able to hold off the Valour attack, and had a few chances themselves, but weren't able to extend their lead. With seconds left in stoppage time, Valour finally found the back of the net, as William Akio headed home a cross over Edmonton's backline, stealing a point and denying The Eddies that elusive first victory.

Three Observations

Gabriel Bitar's individual quality is capable of winning games for The Eddies, and nearly did​

As FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch said after the match, sometimes games come down to individual moments in the match. Whichever team can take advantage of the opportunities they get will often win the game, and an FC Edmonton side that didn't create many huge chances in the match nearly did just that. While Valour were taking shots at Andreas Vaikla in the Eddies goal, and ended up outshooting their opponents 12-6, it was Edmonton who had the lead for over an hour after making the most of their chance. Started by midfielder Gabriel Bitar deep in his own half, Edmonton moved very quickly up the pitch on a counter attack just after the half-hour mark. Bitar played a quick give-and-go with a teammate before hustling through the middle of the park. Nobody was able to catch up to him, and as he approached the Valour backline, calmly slid it between the centre-backs to Mamadi Camara. Camara slid the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal, past Jonathan Sirois, giving his team the lead with his second goal in as many matches. "Gabby's really good in tight spaces, he's a very tricky player," said the goalscorer Camara. "So when I saw him drive at the defender and commit, that's when I made my run. I was able to slip through and able to finish, so I'm happy with that goal. When you play as a striker you want to score and help as much as you can on that end of the pitch. As a team I want to start winning and picking up three points every time we play games, whether it's at home or away." "Gabby is a special player when he has the ball," Koch said. "You can see he has special moments, he can find little pockets of space to play no matter where we play him -- and we've played him in a lot of different positions already so far this season. He has that individual quality to pick out that final ball. Then you have someone like Mamadi who has the willingness to run in behind."

Andrew Jean-Baptise returns from injury, plays most of the match​

Valour welcomed back their star centre-back, and one of their senior leaders, Andrew Jean-Baptiste on Sunday afternoon, with head coach Phil Dos Santos bringing the Haitian international straight back into the starting lineup. It was the second time Jean-Baptiste has made a comeback this season, after only playing for some of the first half in Valour's 6-1 win over Atlético Ottawa at the end of April before aggravating another muscle in his leg. He returned to the pitch for his second appearance of the season against Edmonton, and was able to last 79 minutes in the match. He didn't look out of place at all, winning possession eight times, making one tackle, and two clearances. He also came close to scoring in the first half, heading the ball wide of Andreas Vaikla's post from a corner kick. It wasn't the dominant performance that we know he's capable of, and that we saw at the start of the 2021 season before his injury, but he hardly put a foot wrong, and as he works his way back up to full match fitness and familiarity, has the potential to grow into one of the league's best once again. "It's always good to see him out there," said Dos Santos, who said that game rhythm is crucial to his continued recovery and building up fitness. "The guys have seen him in training, he's been with us for quite a bit now, it's good to see him out on the field now. I want to see him getting games, and to give us a bit of continuity. He came out because he was gassed, was starting to cramp." "It's solid, it's always good to have your captain back and starting for us, so we're definitely going to see more of him," offered Valour's goalscorer William Akio.

Jacob Carlos has the talent to thrive in the CPL, but needs the consistency​

Valour midfielder Jacob Carlos is only nine games into his first professional season after being drafted in the 2022 CPL-U Sports Draft, and has already shown flashes of brilliance. Playing as a two-way player in the Valour midfield, he's a good presser when defending and has the ability to make passes and be a creative outlet when on the ball. His head coach Phil Dos Santos says that the next step for the 20-year-old is to show his qualities more consistently. That will come with more experience and more playing time, and Dos Santos said that it's up to him to take advantage of those opportunities and continue to develop into player that has the potential to take on an increased role in the future. On the television broadcast Dos Santos was audibly communicating with him for a lot in the first half, often asking for more urgency and to press higher, and Carlos often reacted accordingly, but was taken off at the break for Matthew Catavolo. Dos Santos explained after the match that Catavolo's ability to create space for his teammates and draw away defenders was important, and the substitute ended up assisting the winning goal. "I think he had a good game at Pacific, came in well in the last game, but today was a little bit slower in his reactions, not as proactive," Dos Santos said of Carlos after the match. "It's important when you play against teams that are going to close the space like that to have your eights run behind the opposition and try to open space for a guy like Ponce and I felt that it was a bit more reactive from his part. "Jacob is a good player, a good pro that is still learning, it's his first season as a pro. He's doing the little things right, and I think that's going to help him." Player of the Match

Gabriel Bitar, FC Edmonton Setting up one of the best goals of the 2022 season thus far, Gabriel Bitar played a huge part in what looked as though it would be the game-winner.

What’s next?

Valour stay at home, and take on Cavalry FC at IG Field in 10 days, on June 15 at 7 pm CT/6 pm MT. FC Edmonton return home as well, hosting HFX Wanderers a day earlier, on June 14 at 8 pm MT/ 11 pm AT. Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.

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