Final Score: York United 3-2 FC Edmonton Goalscorers: Kratt 10', Cabrera 80', Wilson 84; Bitar 62', Gonzalez 78' Game of the 2022 season: 77 CPL match: 327
Match in a minute or lessIn a wild match at York Lions Stadium that saw both teams erase a deficit to take the lead, York United defeated FC Edmonton 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. The Nine Stripes took the lead early on thanks to a superb Ronan Kratt effort in the 10th minute, and they'd hold onto that lead until halftime. Coming out of the break, though, the match's tempo shifted dramatically. Edmonton first equalized around the hour mark, as Gabriel Bitar finished an excellent piece of link-up play with Tobias Warschewski, and about 15 minutes later the Eddies took the lead, as Azriel Gonzalez scored with a diving header off an excellent cross by Warschewski. York would not fold from there, though, as Lisandro Cabrera equalized just a minute after entering the game, and Jordan Wilson then put the hosts back in front -- this time for good -- in the 84th minute with a header from a corner kick.
Frantic ending sees game open up after back-and-forth first 80 minutesThe finale of this match was truly spectacular, but from the pace of play in this game it's not necessarily surprising that things eventually opened up as they did. Both these teams were quite direct with the way they wanted to attack, as York looked to lift long balls over the Eddies' block -- most frequently either Noah Verhoeven or Paris Gee looking for Ronan Kratt on the left wing -- and they were ultimately quite successful at getting into the attacking third quickly with those moves, although occasionally an extra touch or slow turn from an attacking player allowed the Eddies to re-establish their shape and make it hard to attack once again. Still, most of York's better chances in the first half came from those long balls, with Kratt and Kevin Dos Santos looking very dangerous and eager to take on defenders. Kratt's goal didn't quite come from that kind of play, with it being more of a second phase link-up move after the initial long ball moments earlier, but it was still a product of direct, aggressive attacking and willingness to run at defenders one-on-one. York weren't exclusively direct in possession -- in fact, they were quite patient in the back, as Verhoeven often dropped into defence to allow fullbacks to get higher -- but once the possibility for a quick ball over the top opened up, they attempted it more often than not. With the game played at such a frantic pace for most of the first 80 minutes -- at times York were the aggressors, and for much of the early second half it was Edmonton -- it's no surprise the goals started pouring in eventually, especially when York managed to get some of their substitutes into the match. "I thought we started well, got an early goal, were getting into some good areas," Nash said of his side's performance. "They made a tactical change and an early sub that caused us some problems. I thought we'd sorted it at halftime, but I thought we came out a bit slow in the second half, almost with the mindset to see the game out, which wasn't the plan... The guys battled and fought and it was great to get back into the game." Meanwhile, the result is a heartbreaker for the Eddies, though Alan Koch was nonetheless pleased with the effort his side put out, especially their attacking play and sustained pressure in the second half. "I'm proud of my group that I work with every single day," Koch said postmatch. "I'm disappointed with how we managed a couple key moments; it's obvious we're a young group, just like York are, and you can see they struggled with a couple of key moments. Unfortunately we struggled with one more than they did."
Eddies make changes and claw back in, but can't close it outAs they have in many games this season, especially away from home, FC Edmonton set up with a flat five-man backline, making themselves very difficult to play through. Their main attacking outlet was on the counter-attack, and they seriously tested goalkeeper Eleias Himaras a handful of times in the first half. In this game, the Eddies were able to get more men forward on the break, with Gabriel Bitar, Wesley Timoteo, and Mamadi Camara all making vertical runs when the team won the ball. So, too, did Azriel Gonzalez, who provided a wide threat after he came into the match after half an hour. York generally did deal with those transitional threats well, though; they won't be happy with how many of those they gave away, particularly with errant passes through midfield that proved too easy to intercept, but Dominick Zator and Tass Mourdoukoutas did well handling those attempts at the final stage. Edmonton gaffer Alan Koch sought a different attacking look after the first half hour, as he decided to make an early tactical change, removing right-back T-Boy Fayia and adding Azriel Gonzalez on the left wing, defending with more of a back four. Koch had identified York's balls over Fayia toward Ronan Kratt -- as mentioned earlier -- and he sought to put a more defensive-minded player in Nyal Higgins on the right flank. "It worked, but it didn't work because we lost the game," Koch said of his early substitution. "Kratt was having success coming at us in the first 20-odd minutes. We decided to take T-Boy out, unfortunately for him, made an adjustment and I think it allowed us to close down spaces a little better. It allowed us to push Gaby [Bitar] further up front so we could put a bit more pressure on Zator and Tass [Mourdoukoutas]. It helped us, and that's part of the catalyst that allowed us to get ourselves back into the game." Adding Gonzalez in particular was an effective move from Koch as well; the Las Vegas-born attacker helped add an additional man to Edmonton's transitional game, providing an outlet for Wesley Timoteo's forward passes on the left. "I was told that we need to make more happen in behind, more happen on the ball," Gonzalez said of his instructions upon entering the match. "The game was a little slow the first 20, 30 minutes, so I came on and I was instructed to run in behind, do as much as I can in the attacking third." In the end, the Eddies showed more of their characteristic resilience in finding a way back into the match in the second half, and perhaps showed more tactical flexibility than ever with the way they changed shape multiple times for various situations. Still, they'll leave with a bitter taste in their mouths, having let the result slip away so quickly. The winning goal was a controversial one -- Wesley Timoteo was not allowed back on the pitch after an injury for the corner kick York scored from, despite not needing treatment from medical staff -- but Koch still felt that his side might have gotten ahead of themselves after taking the lead. "I think when we went one up, our excitement yet again got the better of us," he said. "The guys could feel something, and nothing is ever over in this business until you've played 90-plus minutes. Another pedagogical moment for us as a group, and we'll address that and continue to push this group forward."
Late goal conceded spurs urgency, killer instinct in YorkSometimes a bit of adversity is just the thing a team needs to take their own game up a notch. That seemed to be the case in this game for York United, who played well on the whole but didn't truly explode in attack until they fell behind in the 78th minute. York seemed fairly comfortable playing with the lead in the first half, but after halftime there was a heightened intensity in the way Edmonton came at them. The Eddies were largely the better team for most of the second frame, and they were justly rewarded with two goals to take the lead. After Azriel Gonzalez put the visitors in front, though, York seemed to find another gear. With the help of rested substitutes like Mo Babouli, Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio, and Lisandro Cabrera -- all of whom came into the match immediately after one of the two Edmonton goals -- they were much quicker to get into the attacking third. Of course, head coach Martin Nash would have preferred to see that kind of attacking fervour over the whole 90 minutes, but he was nonetheless very happy with how they picked themselves up off the mat after conceding the second goal. "I thought that sense of urgency wasn't there at the start of the second half," Nash said. "Even when it was 1-1, I think our players felt we were in control, I'm not sure we were. And then we went 2-1 down, and to be fair the guys just battled, fought hard." Jordan Wilson, ultimately the hero for York in this one, suggested that his side might not have been able to come back in a game like this two or three months ago. Part of that is because of their bench contributions on Sunday, which were far rarer earlier this year when the injury list was longer, but he also explained that the character of the team has improved. "Two months ago that would've been a game that we tied or lost," Wilson said. "We've got to take the good with the bad. Today, obviously you don't want to concede two goals, but we still scored more than the other team, so got to give credit to the boys for that." He added: "For me the subs won us that game. I haven't looked at it back but that's the feeling I felt, just that guys were able to come on and add to the game. It's really nice."
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchNoah Verhoeven, York United The midfielder was outstanding in a double-pivot with Jordan Wilson, and it was he who provided the set-piece delivery for Wilson's winning goal. Verhoeven had a team-high 16 passes in the final third, and he was very comfortable dropping into defence on either side to help build out of the back.
What’s next?Both these teams will be back on the road next weekend. The Eddies will conclude their long road trip with a stop in Winnipeg to take on Valour on Sunday, Aug. 21 (1:30 p.m. CT/2:30 p.m. ET). Before then, though York will be in Hamilton for a 905 Derby clash with Forge FC on Saturday, Aug. 20 (7 p.m. ET). 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.