2022 CPL Regular Season -- Match #3 FC Edmonton vs. Valour FC April 10, 2022 at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET Clarke Field in Edmonton, Alberta Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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Sunday's Canadian Premier League doubleheader kicks off in the Albertan capital this week, as FC Edmonton open their 2022 campaign at home against Winnipeg-based side Valour FC. The Eddies enter the new year with almost a clean slate, having brought back just five players from the 2021 roster -- a situation necessitated in part by the club's challenging offseason situation -- but head coach Alan Koch remains at the helm to try and help the club continue to make progress. Last season, FCE finished seventh in the table with a 6-10-12 (W-D-L) record and a goal differential of -7. That said, it wasn't all doom and gloom; the Eddies scored 34 goals, which was the same amount as second-place Cavalry FC. They played spoiler to teams in the playoff race on more than one occasion, knocking Valour out of top four contention with a 3-3 draw in early November and defeating eventual champions Pacific earlier in October to put a dent in their quest for home field advantage. Koch has assembled a side that's hungry to prove itself at the professional level -- "FC Opportunity," as the gaffer has called them -- with a lot of young talent looking to take a step forward. Plus, a few key returnees mean there's quality going forward: German striker Tobias Warschewski (now joined by his compatriot Julian Ulbricht from York United) led the CPL in assists last year, and Azriel González showed his dynamic attacking ability late last year. Shamit Shome, just 24 years old but boasting significant MLS experience, is hoping to hit his full potential this year after a difficult 2021. And at the back, Luke Singh has come to Edmonton on loan from Toronto FC hoping to impress in heavy minutes. "We have a few players you'll be familiar with that were with us last year, and then a lot of new faces," Koch told reporters on Friday. "A lot of young players that are hungry and eager to show they deserve to be in professional football, and a couple of players that, to be honest, this was probably their only option that they had in terms of continuing their careers. Every single player we have that will step on the pitch, whether they start or come off the bench, is going to be hungry to prove that they deserve to be a professional footballer."

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Coming in to start their season on the road is Valour, who want to carry on with the progress they made late last year under coach Phillip Dos Santos, who took over as head coach in September for the final 10 games of the season. They missed the playoffs by just one point in 2021, their 10-5-13 record putting them just short of York United for fourth place. They proved at times to be one of the most entertaining attacking teams in the league, having opened the season winning six of their first seven in the Kickoff bubble before a down period in the late summer -- not unrelated to losing star defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste to an ACL tear in mid-July. Most of the core remains in place for this team, with Jean-Baptiste returning alongside Moses Dyer, Daryl Fordyce, William Akio, Federico Peña, and eight other returnees. They have Sean Rea and reigning Goalkeeper of the Year Jonathan Sirois back on loan from CF Montréal, which will be a massive boost to the squad. Plus, a few key new faces from home and abroad have come in; highly touted young fullback Matteo De Brienne signed from Carleton University and Alessandro Riggi comes in from HFX Wanderers. "It's so much easier to work when you have a good idea of what you want to look like as a team and you already have a response from the players," Dos Santos told CanPL.ca on Friday. "Because now you feel that you have set something up for players to maximize their potential and their quality." He added: "There's non-negotiable principles, there's things that you never deviate from. It's gonna be elements like the compactness in which we want to defend, the mentality of the group, the objectivity in which we want to attack, the individual and collective roles and responsibilities of everyone inside the team. Those are things that regardless of what is thrown at you, you always need to stick to them, and that's been drilled in the guys. They know what we want to be; they know what our heartbeat needs to be like and what our DNA needs to look like."

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They will, however, be without heart-and-soul midfielder Raphael Ohin for an extended period of time after he suffered an injury in preseason, so there will be a significant hole in the middle of the park for Dos Santos to try and fill. Dos Santos also revealed that there are a few knocks in his squad at the moment -- Brett Levis is unlikely to play Sunday, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste remains day-to-day as he works his way back to full fitness. These sides met six times in 2021, and Edmonton had a slight upper hand, with two wins to one for Valour -- the other three meetings being draws. Can Koch's Eddies begin surprising people early with a win in their home opener? Or will it be Dos Santos' Valour who claim their first spoils?

Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final! To learn more about ComeOn!, click here. All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.


  • Valour seek to fill Ohin's absence in middle: The Rhino, as he's called, will be sorely missed by Valour; Raph Ohin played 28 games in 2021, all but three of them starts, and he was a tremendous force on and off the ball with his workrate and ability to run at defenders or spring direct attacks. It's not immediately clear how Valour will address that gap; Daryl Fordyce will be one key piece in the middle, but there are several options for who can slot in alongside him, depending on how they choose to structure their lineup. Brett Levis and Diego Gutíerrez are logical options in central midfield, although both players are perhaps more natural playing out wide (on the left and right, respectively). CPL-U SPORTS Draft pick Jacob Carlos is inexperienced at the pro level but could fit into a more central role, as could 19-year-old Canada U-20 call-up Matthew Catavolo. Moses Dyer also spent time in midfield last year, but Dos Santos seemed eager to put him up top toward the end of the season, and he scored six goals in his last nine games playing as a striker. "In a normal situation you're gonna utilize mainly two midfielders, we felt with Raph, Diego, Fordyce, and Brett we had four very good midfielders and only two can play," Dos Santos said Friday. "It's a tricky one because (Ohin) is different to the other three, he has a different profile and characteristic, but I don't think we're weakened. We lose a piece of the puzzle and we have to be able to replace him."​
  • Eddies can threaten going forward: Perhaps the greatest strength of this Edmonton side on the pitch is the talent it has up front. Azriel Gonzalez and Tobias Warschewski combined extremely well at times late last season, and although they won't have towering striker Easton Ongaro this time as a target man, there's a lot to like about the forward group. Julian Ulbricht should have excellent chemistry with Warschewski, the fellow German with whom he's played for several years. Plus, U SPORTS standouts Kairo Coore and Gabriel Bitar could add some of the finishing ability this side needs. If Shamit Shome can be a creative force in midfield as well, this FCE side could surprise with its ability to score goals this season. "Tobi being here, Azriel being here, Shamit being here, it gives us a bit of stability," Koch said Friday. "They know how we want them to play; they're comfortable and part of why they're here is we have a great relationship with these kids. I'm excited to see them take that next step in their careers."​
  • Defensive units still work in progress: Both of these clubs went through sub-par defensive stretches last season, so the new-look backline units will be interesting to see. Valour's personnel is largely the same, with Rocco Romeo most likely to start at centre-back alongside, potentially, Stefan Cebara or Tony Mikhael, with Andrew Jean-Baptiste possibly not 90-minutes fit yet. The main newcomers to the fullback group are Matteo De Brienne and Jonathan Esparza, with Andy Baquero and Federico Peña returning. Last year, Valour conceded two goals in seven games with Jean-Baptiste, then allowed 34 in 21 games without him (1.62 against per game, which would be second-worst in the CPL across the whole season). Edmonton, meanwhile, is almost entirely new at the back. Luke Singh and Nyal Higgins seem a likely centre-back duo, with Terique Mohammed and possibly local youngster T-boy Fayia at fullback. Alan Koch has explained there's plenty of minutes up for grabs at every position, so expect to see some experimentation in the defensive unit throughout the year.


FC Edmonton wins: 3 || Valour FC wins: 5 || Draws: 4

Previous match:

November 6, 2021 -- FC Edmonton 3-3 Valour FC


"The exciting part is we get to go play for three points; it's something we all thrive on and we strive to get ourselves ready to go play in those games, so that's exciting and motivating, and also after everything we've been through it's a nice pleasant reward, because we get to go do our jobs. There were definitely times this offseason where I don't think people knew if this club was going to exist, so it's a big part of it that we get to go do our jobs for this club and in this community." -- FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch

"The guys know Clarke (Field); I know Alan (Koch), Alan's gonna be preparing them well. I know that it's gonna be a hungry team. Weather conditions won't be good. This is a high-alert game, we know we're up for a fight and we have to take it like that because if we loosen our guard a little bit we can be up for a surprise. This is how much respect I have for Alan and I really believe he can turn a difficult situation into a very competitive team." -- Valour FC head coach Phil Dos Santos

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