2022 CPL Regular Season -- Match #5 FC Edmonton vs. York United April 15, 2022 at 7 p.m. MT/9 p.m. ET Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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After an entertaining start to the Canadian Premier League season this past weekend, the league is back in action again this week, with the first of four games on the schedule kicking off when FC Edmonton hosts York United on Friday. And despite strong performances in both of their respective season openers, where FC Edmonton hosted Valour, while York welcomed the Halifax Wanderers, both teams failed to win their respective matchups, as Edmonton drew 1-1, while York lost 1-0. Friday’s hosts, Edmonton, had a lot to be pleased about in their opening match, as despite going down a goal late in the first half, they recovered nicely in the second half, clawing back a point via a goal of the year candidate from Tobias Warschewksi in the 95th minute. Even though they entered the year as strong underdogs, given that they saw heavy turnover in their roster, it was a nice start to the season for them, showing that they’re more than the table scraps team that some may think of them as. Having to manage that, and some tough weather conditions, they didn’t look fazed by either of those challenges, finding a way to make the most out of a game that could’ve easily slipped away from them. But that’s just been the sort of process that they’re looking to follow this year. They know that they’re building something, and that sort of process takes time, so right now, their main goal is to remain patient as they navigate that journey. “You have to go into every game that you play with belief,” FC Edmonton’s head coach, Alan Koch, said of his team’s opening game. “We savoured the enjoyment of Sunday for a little while, and we’ve moved on.” “This is a brand new game, if we'd won that game, or if we lost that game, it wouldn't really change where we are today and how we're approaching this where we're going game-by-game, day-by-day.” In their visitors, however, they’ll get a stiff test, as York will feel hard done by after their opening game. Shorthanded heading into it, they put up a valiant effort despite that, but a 53rd-minute penalty from Halifax’s João Morelli just proved to be too much to overcome, as a late York push wouldn’t be able to yield much more than a few shots off the woodwork. Plus, given that they’ll see the return of 2021 standouts, Max Ferrari and Diyaeddine Abzi, who weren’t fully available for their opener (Ferrari didn’t feature at all, while Abzi saw a cameo off the bench), they’ll feel that they can return to the standard that saw them qualify for the playoffs last year. Especially considering how they finished that Halifax game, looking quite good in the second half, they’ll want to keep that up as they head into this one. “I thought the game, looking back at it and watching it again, went quite well,” York head coach, Martin Nash, said this week. “I thought we created enough chances to take three points, but I think we deserved at least a draw. So there's a lot of positives to take and I don't think we were at our best, to be honest. So there were some good and bad moments to show the players, and some things to clean up, but I think structurally, I thought we were in a good place.”

RELATED: Match Analysis: York United 0-1 HFX Wanderers FC — CPL Match #1 -- Match Analysis: FC Edmonton 1-1 Valour FC — CPL Match #3

Overall, though, both teams performed well despite the circumstances that they faced in week 1, making it expected that they continue what they built on in that first game here in week 2. And given that all of the three meetings between these teams in 2021 were decided by a goal, they’ll both feel that they can scrape something out of this matchup, allowing them to get their 2022 campaigns on track. Because of that, it’s expected to be a hard-fought contest on Friday, where the weather is once again expected to be windy and frosty, which are almost fitting conditions for such a match. Especially when you factor in that 4 FC Edmonton players are actually going to be playing their parent club, as Warschewski, Julian Ulbricht, Azriel Gonzalez and Felix N’Sa are all on loan to Edmonton from York, that’ll only add fuel to the fire, one that observers will hope can turn into an inferno. So seeing that, along with the fact that Edmonton has actually never beaten York in CPL action, with York holding a 4-4-0 (W-D-L) record against them, that just adds further incentive for Edmonton to want to send them home packing, while their visitors will look to spoil the party once again.

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  • Don’t feel a(loan): It’s always fun when a player plays against their former club. It’s even more exciting when a player plays a current club, one that they’re on loan from. It’s rare, but given Edmonton’s unique situation, they’ve been granted the permission to allow their loan players to play their former clubs, as per Nash. Which, for Edmonton, is quite the boost for them, as that’ll mean that Warschewski, Ulbricht, Gonzalez and N’Sa could all play a role on the pitch Friday, instead of potentially missing out. And given that the first three all started for Edmonton in their opener, losing them for this game would’ve been a big blow, but instead, they’ll now get a chance to strut their stuff to their parent club, of which you have to be motivated for. Because of that, it’s going to be interesting to see how they fare. Interestingly enough, Warschewski and Gonzalez have actually never played for York, having both arrived in Edmonton last year before transferring east this offseason, while N’Sa and Ulbricht have stronger ties, given that they were both on the team last year. As a result, Koch feels that makes the situation slightly overblown, at least in his eyes. “I think a lot of people are making more out of it than it actually is”, Koch said of the loanees. At the same time, there still should be some spark there, something that Nash certainly believes there certainly will be. “I think you saw it in the first game,” Nash noted. “They've all got something to prove because they all want to do everything they can this year to prove whether they're good enough to be on one of the top teams.” So seeing that, no matter which camp you’re in, there’s no doubt that there are a lot of storylines to watch with these loan players, of whom you can imagine will look to play a big role for their hosts, allowing them to build off of what they showed last week.
  • York looking for goals: On the first matchday of the CPL, just two teams failed to score a goal - Cavalry and York United. As a result, York will be hungry to come out and breach the net at least once this game, especially considering that they were tied for the fewest shots on target in the league on opening day with 2, and had the lowest Expected Goals (xG) of any team with 0.93. It didn’t help that they hit the woodwork twice, to be fair, but considering that they had an impressive 14 shots, they’ll feel that they need to do a better job of making those shots count in this game, especially against an Edmonton side that kept Valour to only 3 shots on target and 1.03 xG, the second-lowest total of any CPL team on opening day. Especially considering some of the talent that York has in attack, they’ll know that they have much more to give, and will look to prove that on Friday.
  • Edmonton wants to keep flexibility: Given the state of their roster, it has left Edmonton to get creative to start the year, as they look to make the most of what’s available to them. As a result, flexibility is expected to be a big mantra of Koch’s, who isn’t shy in asking his players to try out new roles. One such example from opening day? The use of Gabriel Bitar, nominally a striker, as a midfielder, a role that many weren’t expecting to see him in, but one that he certainly made the most of, putting up a strong performance in. And that’s just the start of what Edmonton will be expected to do, because as noted this week, Koch says that there are going to be more who might have to find new roles. Nicknamed ‘FC Opportunity’ for a reason, that nickname isn’t just extending to the young players and those on loan getting a shot with the club, but to the roles that they play, too, and Koch feels that can only help them in the long run. “We have a smaller squad,” Koch noted. “We need players that are flexible, pliable, willing to be open and willing to learn. And Gaby (Bitar) was a fantastic example, he was brilliant last week. And we're probably going to use another player this weekend, I think you'll be surprised where he plays, but because we have a small squad, we have to be pliable, and the players have to be open to it. And to be fair to all of our guys, our guys have been brilliant, they're all open, they're all willing to learn, they're willing to push each other.”


    York United wins: 4 || FC Edmonton wins: 0 || Draws: 4

    Previous match:

    October 17, 2021 — York United 1-1 FC Edmonton


"Honestly, in this business, in this game, in this phase of life that we're all going through, every new day throws us new challenges. So Sunday might have been, what, four days ago? It feels like a lifetime ago. So we've so moved on from last weekend and gone into the challenges of training this week." -- FC Edmonton head coach, Alan Koch.

"I think we've got to put them under pressure as much as we can. We've been working this week on breaking the low block down, because they (Edmonton) didn't really seem to come out and press too much (vs Valour). They did press a little bit, but often they didn't, so we worked on breaking a little block down, because they're a difficult team to break down." -- York United head coach, Martin Nash.

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