2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #16 HFX Wanderers vs. FC Edmonton July 10, 2021 at 2:00 pm ET/1:00 pm CT IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca

Two teams who’ve sat idle since last weekend look to get back up to speed in this one as HFX Wanderers take on FC Edmonton Saturday afternoon at IG Field. Both sides head into this fixture having drawn their last time out, with the Wanderers playing Cavalry to a 0-0 draw last Saturday while the Eddies shared the points with York United in a 1-1 result the following day, a match in which Easton Ongaro missed a penalty kick at the death with the chance to take all three points going into their five day break. Halifax showed signs of improvement by earning their first point of the season against a strong Cavs squad but they continue to search for their first goal of 2021 despite creating numerous quality chances in the three matches they’ve played to date, a fact Wanderers assistant coach Mesut Mert isn’t dwelling on ahead of Edmonton: “All it takes is that first opportunity, that first goal, that seems to ease everyone’s mind,” Mert told reporters on Friday. “No time to sound the alarm just yet as it is very early but it is important and we stressed that one of those chances that we create have to be put in and we all know that.” Edmonton has looked an improved side under new coach Alan Koch to start 2021, picking up four points through three matches played, highlighted by an impressive 2-0 win over Forge FC back on Canada Day. Despite the draw Sunday night against the Nine Stripes, Koch was more satisfied with his teams effort in the opening two matches than this past weekend and hopes they can pair a strong performance with a positive result Saturday against Halifax: “The goal is to try and get a good performance every game,” Koch said on Friday. “We’re going to continue to work towards that, continue to build the group.” “We know it’s going to be a big challenge, we’re excited for it. We know they’re a quality team but we think we are a quality team too.” For Edmonton, the aim is to start piecing together strong performances on a more consistent basis while the Wanderers look to dismiss their scoring woes in what should be a competitive contest between two well rested clubs.

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  • Eddies stinginess to start: Edmonton has scored three times while conceding just twice in three games played, but none of the five total goals for or against have occurred in the opening half. With plenty of pace in wide areas and a resolute 4-4-2 defensive structure, the Eddies are well suited to hit teams on the counter as opportunities to do so arise in the ebbs and flows of a 90 minute match. For opponents playing this new look ‘Koch’ edition Edmonton for the first time, they’ve found difficulty in breaking them down in the early goings of the game and none of Ottawa, York, or Forge have been able to find end product inside of the opening hour. In Halifax, FCE welcomes an opponent desperate for their first goal of the calendar year on Saturday and a team that scored early and often during the Island Games in 2020. Can this well organized defensive group continue to give their team a chance to win it as the match drags into the late stages?
  • Neither side meeting ExpG: As previously alluded to, Wanderers have not struggled to create chances — boasting 3.24 ExpG (expected goals) through three games played — despite failing to find the back of the net. The Eddies meanwhile have scored on three occasions with two of those coming from range in spectacular fashion via Jeannot Esua (vs. Forge) and Fraser Aird (against York) and yet have also failed to live up their ExpG (4.26) so far. Add in the significantly low probability either Aird’s or Esua’s strikes merit from a data perspective and it’s clear Edmonton, much like Halifax, has let many chances go begging in the early parts of 2021, Ongaro’s missed penalty the clearest example of that. The only other club in the league that has failed to exceed their ExpG to date is Atlético Ottawa, albeit by the finest of margins — 2.01 ExpG versus 2 goals scored. With some extra training time to try and fix their shortcomings in the final third, will either team begin to score at the rate which the numbers suggest they should?
  • Impact of layoff on fitness: While both coaches alluded to there being no real “days off” in the bubble environment, the benefits of a few extra days rest can’t be overlooked and it will be worth noting how the gap between matches impacts the quality of play: “Our players are not 90 minute match fit and I wouldn’t expect them to be, so it’s allowed us to push them from that perspective a little bit,” Koch told the media of the benefits of no midweek games ahead of Saturday. While Mert didn’t specify for sure if Peter Schaale would be available in any capacity for Halifax this weekend, he said the German defender was “getting back slowly” and that the extended break between games has helped in getting Schaale and others who have been sidelined or are dealing with small injuries back up to speed.


HFX Wanderers wins: 1 || FC Edmonton wins: 2 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

August 26, 2020 — HFX Wanderers 3-1 FC Edmonton


“It will be a very interesting game… as I see it, it’s two clubs that are finding their legs, finding their rhythm and finding some level of understanding.” — Mesut Mert, HFX Wanderers assistant coach

“They played in the final last year, so it’s a top, top quality team and if anybody thinks otherwise they are kidding themselves.” — Alan Koch, FC Edmonton head coach

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