Edmonton FC 2-3 Pacific FC – CPL Game #53 – Canadian Premier League

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Final Score: Edmonton FC 2-3 Pacific FC
Scorers: Bitar 79′, Camara 83′; Young 39′, Heard 43′, Daniels 59′
Game of the 2022 season: 53
CPL Compliance: 303


Match in a minute or less

They didn’t take it easy, but Pacific FC finally returned to victory on Saturday afternoon, beating Edmonton FC 3-2 at Clarke Stadium and ending a run of eight games without a win in all competitions.

The Tridents scored twice in the first half thanks to a Sean Young volley and a lob over Eddie’s goalie Andreas Vaikla from Josh Heard. They added a third goal just before the hour mark when Djenairo Daniels capitalized on an Alejandro Diaz chance and it looked like Pacific were on their way to an easy win.

Edmonton made a late attempt at a comeback, with Gabriel Bitar and Mamadi Camara scoring in the 80th and 83rd minutes respectively, but they couldn’t find a third goal.

The win moves Pacific FC to third place above Forge FC despite having The Hammers three games behind them.


Three observations

Pacific finally snags a long winless run

The Tridents started the season in fantastic form, amassing 10 points from a possible 12 in their first four games. It seemed like the reigning North Star Shield winners were starting to run away with the league standings despite the losses to the roster and coaching staff they had to deal with during the off-season, but they were trending in the opposite direction instead.

A few days ago two months without a win, Saturday’s game was an important one for Pacific. After eight straight games without a win in all competitions, head coach James Merriman expected and demanded a great performance, and he got it.

“It was really important to get the result and three points today, it’s very important for us to get a win because we know the run we’ve had,” Merriman said after the game.

Merriman has said repeatedly in recent weeks that his side have trained well and that the mentality of the group is where it needs to be, but that they started games flat and dug themselves into a hole. A switch seemed to flip against Cavalry last weekend and they rushed out of the gates, taking the lead after just six minutes and doubling their lead late in the first half, but an impressive comeback from Cavalry put them 3-2 ahead of Alejandro Diaz saved a point for the Tridents.

In that match, it was Sean Young, Josh Heard and Djenairo Daniels who helped give them a 3-0 lead, a sizeable lead before the hour mark, but they backed off a little and allowed their opponents to get back into the game .

Gabriel Bitar and Mamadi Camara both scored in the final moments of the game and while it ended up being too little and too late as the Eddies were running out of time, it’s still something that worries Pacific.

“I’m very happy with a lot of performances, I just don’t think we have to be in the situation we’re in to finish the game,” Merriman offered after the game, urging his team to keep improving. The victory on Saturday was not dominant,

Pacific are next in action on Friday, away at York United. It will be a chance for them to continue to build to the level they started the season against a York team who are really struggling to gain momentum.

Eddies make it interesting late, Pacific almost let the big lead slip away

As time was running out for the visitors’ seemingly magnificent 3-0 win, Pacific conceded two goals in the closing stages of the game. They spent a crucial part of the game on the back foot, defending for their lives when the competition seemed and should have ended.

It was an unsavory end to a solid performance for Pacific and turned a positive thing – ending a weak two-month stretch without a win – into another lesson. The important thing is that they kept the three points, but if they don’t bring their defense back to the required level, they will continue to concede avoidable goals.

The prime example of this is Bitar’s goal to rejuvenate the Eddies in the 79th minute. A bad giveaway on the back gave one of the league’s most in-form players a chance and sparked a comeback that Edmonton nearly made.

“It’s frustrating to give those goals away when we’re 3-0 up, we’re in control,” Merriman said. “We’re giving one away and we felt that pressure a bit and are giving away a second one so quickly. It’s frustrating but it was difficult for us to get a win and a result so we have to embrace that and keep building on that.”

“Maybe [it was] Lack of concentration, maybe stepping on the gas,” added midfielder Sean Young after the game. “We have to finish teams three or four to zero, especially when we’re in that position. The concentration wasn’t quite good enough.”

Alan Koch names unchanged starting XI, continues to show confidence in top performers

As the season progresses and a relatively young and inexperienced FC Edmonton roster continues to grow through the season, head coach Alan Koch has seemingly found what he believes to be close to his starting line-up.

Although attacker Tobias Warschewski was absent on Saturday, Koch re-formed a group that has now played many games together – partly out of necessity in a thin squad, but partly because he knows what certain people are giving him.

In goal was the impressive Andreas Vaikla, who excelled this season on loan from Toronto FC II. In front of him, Koch sent a back five consisting of Luke Singh, Bicou Bissainthe and Nyal Higgins in central defence, with Marcus Simmons and T-Boy Fayia at left and right back respectively.

In front of this defensive unit, Shamit Shome and Gabriel Bitar patrolled central midfield, with Masta Kacher on the left, Wesley Timoteo on the right and Mamadi Camara at the forward’s lead.

“That’s what we preach to the boys in our team – come to training and earn playing time,” said Koch after the game. “The players that played last week were people who came in and worked incredibly hard and they jumped at that opportunity. They played fantastic against York and they weren’t the only players who trained well this week – they all trained well and the other guys bit hard too.

“We wanted to reward the players who played and won against York. In the next game it could be a bit different, some players reacted positively today and others had challenges.

One player who stood out on Saturday and has really progressed with his opportunity to play regularly this season is left-back Marcus Simmons. Simmons collected his first assist as a professional player – a fantastic ball that hit Camara at the back post – in last week’s 3-0 win over York United and did something similar in this game.

As Camara made another deft run to the back post, almost unnoticed by the Pacific defenders, Simmons rolled a cross across the floor that redirected Camara into the back net, but it would be ruled out due to an alleged offside. Simmons is one of the players who started the season as a trialist for Edmonton FC and took advantage of what some have said is “FC Opportunity”. He’s developing well as a pro and if he plays like he’s been playing lately he could develop into a very solid CPL defender.

He wasn’t perfect on Saturday but mistakes will help a talented young player to develop.

“I love Marcus, he is fantastic. It’s fun to work with him, he comes to training, he hangs his head,” said Koch. “He played varsity football last year and nobody thought he would be playing professional football now. Right from the start, when we started our preseason in a little bungalow here in Edmonton, he came in and worked incredibly hard.

“He knows that, he made a mistake with one of the goals today, but that’s part of his own personal development. He’s had some fantastic moments, his service is top-notch, but like any player, he still has a lot to learn. Hopefully the challenges he faced today will continue to push him in the right direction.”


CanPL.ca Player of the Match

Josh Heard, Pacific FC

Pacific FC forward Josh Heard scored one goal and played a big part in setting up another on Saturday and was instrumental in his side’s victory.


What’s next?

Pacific FC is back on the road again, traveling to York Lions Stadium for a game against York United on Friday, July 15 (7:30pm ET). July 19 (6:45 p.m. ET).

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