Final Score: Valour FC 1-1 FC Edmonton Goalscorers: Dyer 14' (PK); Ongaro 67' Game of the 2021 season: 81 CPL match: 216

Match in a minute or less

A slate of halftime changes from FC Edmonton brought them back from a goal down at IG Field on Saturday, as Easton Ongaro's equalizer in the 67th minute cancelled out a Moses Dyer penalty kick early in the first half that would have handed Valour FC their first win under Phillip Dos Santos. The Eddies, fighting back from behind for the second consecutive game, picked up the hard-earned point to deny Valour the three points at home.

Three Observations

Valour settling into life under Dos Santos​

After what's surely been a taxing stretch for Valour, ever since Phillip Dos Santos took over as coach from Rob Gale last Thursday, it was (understandably) difficult for them to find a rhythm in their first two games of the new era. In this, the third, they looked a little more stable: Dos Santos kept his starting XI very similar to the squad he rolled out midweek against Pacific, with just two changes (Daryl Fordyce and Rodrigo Reyes coming in for Brett Levis and the suspended Rocco Romeo). As a result, Valour looked more comfortable than they did in either of their first two games under Dos Santos. They were well-organized in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Raphael Ohin and Daryl Fordyce as a double pivot -- the former covering a lot of ground, and the latter setting a good tempo with his ball movement. Overall, Valour seemed to have regained some confidence after such a challenging month of September. The hosts controlled the game for the most part, with a massive advantage in possession as they tried to suffocate the Eddies' most dangerous threats, although Edmonton did pick up steam toward the end as they managed to run through Valour's lines with some direct attacks. "I think that the guys are more and more comfortable with it, I think they're enjoying playing with what we ask them," Dos Santos said postmatch. "I feel there's a lot of feedback given to us, not only feedback telling us how they feel on the field with what is proposed, but also players challenging us a little bit in ways that are positive. I think when players don't challenge you on, maybe 'I can't make it here the way you want,' or maybe 'If I do this I feel that I might obtain other results,' at the end of the day they're the ones on the field. If they're not comfortable with what you propose they'll always revert to that grey area so it's been good." Dos Santos added: "I think that the team is stepping in the right direction; I cannot lose perspective, this is what we want and this is how we want the team to grow. You talk about structure or system, for me it's more about principles and behaviours and I think we're gonna be hard on those, there's things that are non-negotiable for us and I think that in those non-negotiables there's been a good application."

Young Eddies make use of opportunity before halftime changes​

Unlike his opposite number, Alan Koch rotated his squad heavily for this game. Players like Gabriel Boakye, T-boy Fayia, and Matthew Durrans -- none of whom have seen the starting XI very often this year -- all got a chance to demonstrate their abilities from kickoff on Saturday before leaving the game at or just after halftime. Koch explained postmatch that part of the thinking with putting Fayia and goalkeeper Darlington Murasiranwa was to keep the Eddies on track with their U-21 minutes requirement, but they also managed to get more experienced players like Allan Zebie and Kyle Porter into the starting lineup after injuries kept them on the sidelines for tough stretches of the season. "It was awesome to see Darlington make some big saves in the game, good to see T-boy play -- he got himself into yellow card trouble and that was the reason we took him out... and it was good to see players that are coming back from injury, maybe haven't played that much," Koch said. "Then we put some of our players that were somewhat fresh on at the end of the game, and I think that allowed us to get ourselves back into the game. So we're not ecstatic by any means, not celebrating, but you'll take a point on the road in this league." Boakye, a 23-year-old Richmond Hill native, had some very good moments with the ball at his feet; as a talented dribbler, he often looked dangerous running at Valour defenders and trying to beat them one-on-one, although there were a few occasions where he gave the ball away a little too easily while trying to take the ball forward himself rather than pass it off. Fayia, meanwhile, put in a strong half of work playing at right-back; he didn't have many flashy moments as Boakye did, but he was perhaps more reliable, successful with 17 of his 21 attempted passes, although he did earn himself a yellow card with a clumsy tackle. Trailing at halftime, Koch brought in more of his regular cast of starters with the likes of Easton Ongaro, Tobias Warschewski, and Fraser Aird all coming in to try and get a result for the Eddies -- and it did pay off. Warschewski was one of the most dangerous players on the pitch from the right flank, finding Ongaro for the equalizer. Aird, too, was good in his regular fullback role, making three key passes in just the one half of work. "We said to our three guys that we took off at halftime that we were happy with how they performed," Koch added. "I'm happy with the response from our players. On Wednesday we were frustrated with the intensity out of the gates, and the group that started the game today came out with the required intensity, I like that they imposed themselves on teh game." There was no harm at all in Edmonton testing their depth and giving the youngsters a shot, but the fact that they managed to have veteran players a little fresher off the bench late in the affair really was, at the end of the day, what allowed them to get back into the game and earn a point.

Dyer looking comfortable as striker​

Moses Dyer has played a handful of different positions this season -- everywhere from central midfield, to the wing, to up front as a striker. He's now started up front as a lone number nine twice in a row, and they've been among his strongest performances of the year, with goals in both matches (Saturday's was a penalty, although he did win it himself). The New Zealand international was efficient with his touches, taking a team-high four shots in this game. He was tenacious in pressing to win the ball with a team-high 14 duels (of which he won half), and he did well to disrupt Edmonton's defensive line drifting into various spaces and, occasionally, dropping deep into midfield to veil his threat from the Eddies' centre-backs. Certainly, Dyer has the versatility and range to do well in any of the positions he's played this year, but as a natural forward he has looked much more dangerous and comfortable the past two outings having been tapped as Valour's primary attacking option up front. If he continues in a vein of form like that, Valour might be able to bank some more results down the homestretch of the season, even with leading scorer Austin Ricci set to miss the remainder of the campaign with injury. With William Akio and Jared Ulloa doing well out wide to stretch the pitch, Dyer had plenty of space to run into in this match, and he forms a good partnership with Keven Alemán in the number 10 spot. Valour weren't necessarily rewarded much on Saturday for the setup, aside from Dyer's penalty goal -- which he earned from a good run into the box after a dangerous through ball -- but there are plenty of encouraging signs in what they were able to do. Player of the Match

Moses Dyer, Valour FC The New Zealand forward was Valour's most potent attacking weapon in this game and a key part of their pressure, and he was rewarded early on by scoring a penalty which he won for himself.

What’s next?

Valour will remain at home after this, as they prepare to host Cavalry FC on Tuesday, October 5 (8 pm ET/7 pm CT). Edmonton will also return to their home turf, as Pacific FC play a visit to Clarke Stadium on Wednesday, October 6 (9 pm ET/7 pm MT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.

Continue reading...