2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #27 Cavalry FC vs. Valour FC May 18, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. MT/3:30 p.m. ET ATCO Field in Calgary, Alberta Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here

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Before Phillip Dos Santos was named as head coach, Valour FC had never defeated Cavalry, going winless (six losses, two draws) in their first eight meetings. But late last season, Valour marched into Spruce Meadows and picked up a shocking 4-2 win against a Cavalry team who ended up tying for the league lead in points. William Akio, off to a flying start this season, picked up a brace in that match. The match was a rarity for another reason, after starting the year in a bubble at their home IG Field, that win over Cavalry was the only time that Valour picked up three points outside of Manitoba in 2021. Things have mostly gone better on the road to start 2022, however, highlighted by a 6-1 win against Atlético Ottawa at TD Place Stadium. Valour has not lost since that lopsided victory, one that has given them a league-best +5 goal differential, defeating York United 1-0 at home last weekend, courtesy of an 87th-minute wondergoal from Sean Rea. "We have shown that we are more consistent on the road," said Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos, "the three road games we have been able to build something out of those games. For us, it is important that you go on the road always with the ability to understand what the opposition is all about and have the humility to understand their strengths." Cavalry also required late drama to get a 2-2 draw at the Wanderers' Ground, courtesy of Daan Klomp's injury-time header. Like Valour, they are undefeated in their last three matches, four in all competitions. After a season last year where goals didn't always come easy, especially at Spruce Meadows, Cavalry now has the second-best goals per game in the league, behind only Valour. After a slow start to the season in attack, they scored just once in their first three matches, they are also now also second in the league in big chances created (10) and expected goals generated (7.64). "We've got some good ways to unlock some teams," said Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "I think this season you're seeing the balance and the parity of the league. There are some good tactics going on and it is making teams have to have a plan b, a plan c, and so fortunately we have been adapting to expose the team's vulnerabilities and to be able to find different ways to score." Cavalry will be looking to use this match to continue to build their home form ahead of a midweek clash against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship. The Cavs famously became the first Canadian Premier League side to beat MLS opposition when they stunned the Caps over two legs in the 2019 third qualifying round. They handed league-leaders Pacific FC their only loss of the season to date in the lone CPL match played at ATCO field so far this year.

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  • Valour's backline will be tested by a ruthless Cavalry attack, ready for set pieces: With seven goals in their last three Canadian Premier League matches, it is fair to say that Cavalry's attack has woken up. Over the past few matches, they have shown an ability to break down teams in different ways making them a tricky opponent for which to create a game plan. While Valour has put up clean sheets in their past two Canadian Premier League matches, the underlying numbers suggest this will not last. The Winnipeg side has allowed a league-worst 2.03 expected goals per game so far this season. One area where their backline has held its own, however, has been on set pieces, from which they have yet to concede so far this season. Considering the last four Cavalry goals have come on set plays, this should help Valour contain at least one area of the Cavalry attack. "We just need to be aware, adjust a few things because of the dynamics that they present and the threat that they present," said Dos Santos said of his side's set-piece defending. "But we don't need to change much because it has worked for us so far. I think these are moments where being able to win your space, to challenge the ball and to compete and keep your levels of focus very high are going to be important."​
  • Valour FC showing that they have match-winning talent: Soccer is ultimately, and will always be a team sport. However, in a league with as much parity as the Canadian Premier League, where five teams including Valour and Cavalry are tied on eight points, individual performances can make all the difference. This weekend, Valour saw that as goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois continued his outstanding record from penalty kicks, denying Osaze De Rosario and is once again at goalkeeper of the year level form. Youngster Sean Rea, meanwhile, has taken another step forward in his development and an unbelievable late goal against York this weekend secured three points for Valour. "In moments where things are not going your way, those players need to show up," said Dos Santos. "They are important, they need to be there to give you an act of brilliance like the one that Sean gave us, or the PK stop from Sirois". He used Callum Irving's performance against Atlético Ottawa earlier in the season, during which the Pacific goalkeeper made 10 saves in a 1-0 win, as another example of an individual performance that led to three points.​
  • Cavalry will look for ways to beat brick wall Jonathan Sirois: While, as aforementioned, Valour's backline has certainly shown vulnerability so far this year, getting past its defenders is far from the only challenge when it comes to scoring against the Winnipeg side. Jonathan Sirois, last year's CPL goalkeeper of the year, hasn't allowed a goal yet this month, stopping all nine shots he has faced so far. Cavalry, for their part, plans on making sure he faces a few more. "Shoot on target," Wheeldon said, with a chuckle, of the team's strategy against Sirois, "he's a good goalkeeper, but I think the league has got a lot of good goalkeepers. I think he's up there with some of the best but I'm always going to be biased, I think ours is the best. I'm sure every other head coach should be saying the same thing". Cavalry will get a boost offensively as Sergio Camargo is set to return in this match, while Joe Mason remains a game-time decision.


    Cavalry FC wins: 6 || Valour FC wins: 1 || Draws: 2

    Previous match:

    October 20, 2021 -- Cavalry FC 2-4 Valour FC


    "Valour are a good team, I think Phil has done a great job with them. They've shown they can hurt teams and they are right in the mix. So for us, we've just got to keep to our strengths and try to expose their weaknesses but it is certainly a game that we are looking forward to playing at home again in front of our fans" -- Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "It is a difficult place to go and play. [Cavalry] is a team that has done very well at home since the beginning so we know that it is one of those games that when we pencil them at the beginning of the season they're very difficult road games." -- Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos

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