FC Edmonton recovered and ready for Cavalry FC after busy week – Toronto Sun

Edmonton played three games in eight days, crisscrossing the country last week and spent the better part of training this week recovering

FC Edmonton’s Mastanabal Kacher (7) battles Pacific FC’s Georges Mukumbilwa (2) during second half Canadian Premier League action at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
FC Edmonton’s Mastanabal Kacher (7) battles Pacific FC’s Georges Mukumbilwa (2) during second half Canadian Premier League action at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

FC Edmonton wrapped up its version of Hell Week and are ready to jump back into the fire.

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Edmonton played three games in eight days, crisscrossing the country last week, and spent the better part of training this week recovering.

FC Edmonton hosts Cavalry FC of Calgary (8 p.m.) at Clarke Field on Friday.

“It’s taken its toll, and at the beginning of the week you could see there was an element of fatigue amongst the group, which is only natural; when you travel that much and play that much, the guys are going to be tired,” said FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch on Thursday. “I think as we got closer and closer to game time, we started to get more and more players back and you can see players’ energy levels are getting back to where they need to be.

“Even one of the guys that was fighting a minor sickness the whole of last week and still played, he finally looks like he’s back to where we need him to be. So, we’ve been very, very careful to manage the load this week, but almost everybody is very close to being able to play (Friday) night.”

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FC Edmonton started last week by travelling to Hamilton to face Forge FC, where they lost 3-0. They returned home to host Pacific FC in a midweek contest, and held the defending Canadian Premier League champions to a scoreless tie. They then concluded the week by travelling to Halifax, N.S., to take on HFX Wanderers FC, where they fell 3-1.

“I think the biggest positive for us was the home game against Pacific FC,” Koch said. “I think to start the week in Ontario and then to end the week in the Maritimes, those were both very challenging games, I think for different reasons.

“We disappointed ourselves a little bit in Hamilton against Forge and then the game in Halifax, it was very difficult for us to evaluate, because the players just ran out of gas. They were absolutely exhausted.”

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Having flown home on Sunday, FC Edmonton took a couple of days to decompress and recover from the heavy schedule and extensive travel. They hope to put up a good fight against Calvary, who is off to a slow start this season with a win, two losses and a tie through its first four games.

FC Edmonton is currently at the bottom of the eight-team CPL standings with three points from its first five games, while Calvary are seventh with four points.

“I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a (local) derby as more of an underdog as we’re going into this game,” Koch said. “They’re a club that is well run, they’re fully functional from a financial perspective and we’re not. We’re low-dollar budget wise, we’re low dollar with our salary cap and we’re low dollar with our technical salary cap too.

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“You can see we’re fighting through a lot of elements. If anybody is putting money on this game, you would expect Cavalry to come in here and win it. But we’re going to go fight; we work incredibly hard to try and set our group up with success. We believe in our players and we believe anything is possible in a 90-minute football match.”

FC Edmonton is currently going through an ownership transition and is being operated by the league. Its roster is made up of players loaned out to the club from other teams in the CPL, and they are working on a shoestring budget.

Regardless, FC Edmonton does have talented players on its roster who were getting better by the game, before the schedule did them in last week.

Returning to familiar confines should help FC Edmonton continue to build on the solid foundation put in place through the first few weeks of the season.

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“I think every team around the world likes to play at home, it’s more simplistic in nature, you don’t have to hop on a plane or a bus, or stay at a hotel,” Koch said. “You can kind of continue with your regular routine and that’s part of what we’ve done this week is try to get everybody back into that routine.

“Last week was nuts, so we’re excited to be home. We’re excited to be sleeping in our own beds instead of the floor at Pearson Airport like we had to do last week, so preparations have been a little bit smoother.”

Without any preseason games and players joining the team just prior to the start of the season, it has taken some time for FC Edmonton to find an identity this season.

Yet, the team has shown a defensive resilience through its first five games and is starting to develop its offensive potential.

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FC Edmonton has three goals in its first five games, but are generating a lot more chances than they did early on in the season when the game plan was to pile players behind the ball and defend for most of the contest.

Before hitting the wall in Halifax, FC Edmonton took an early lead and were creating chances playing the ball through midfield as opposed to just hitting on the counter-attack.

“We’re going to go put the best foot forward like we have in every game,” Koch said. “We’ve shown that we’re going to try to be resourceful, try to be creative and the guys have been giving us everything they can. So, from a coaching perspective, we couldn’t ask for more with our players and everything we’ve had to go through.”

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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