Match Analysis: Cavalry FC 3-1 FC Edmonton — CPL Match #46
Canadian Premier League

Final Score: Cavalry FC 3-1 FC Edmonton
Goalscorers: Pepple 26′, 48′, Higgins (OG) 28′ ; Bitar 45′
Game of the 2022 season: 46
CPL match: 297

Match in a minute or less

Cavalry FC remained red-hot in CPL action on Sunday, picking up their fifth consecutive win in a 3-1 victory over FC Edmonton in this matchday’s ComeOn! Match of the Week, extending their league-record undefeated run to eight games in the process. 

After a bright start to this Al Classico, one where both teams traded blows early on, Cavalry then got the scoring started in this game in the 26th minute, as Aribim Pepple nabbed a tidy goal inside the box, before a Nyal Higgins own goal then doubled Cavalry’s lead less than two minutes later. 

From there, despite a Gabriel Bitar screamer shortly before halftime to give Edmonton life, Pepple would score again in the second half, this time from the penalty spot, securing all three points for his team on the night, pushing them up the table and closer to potentially lifting another ‘Wildrose Cup’. 

Three Observations

Cavalry extends unbeaten run to eight, continuing FC Edmonton dominance: 

It isn’t fun to face Cavalry FC right now. Especially not if you’re FC Edmonton.

That much is clear after this one, as in this game Cavalry managed to keep two undefeated runs going, first extending their league-record unbeaten run in CPL action to eight games, while also extending their undefeated run against Edmonton in CPL play to fourteen games (10 wins, four draws). 

Yet, that’s just been Cavalry as of late, as they’ve found a way to roll through their opponents, no matter whom they’re playing, both home and away.

So unfortunately for Edmonton, that meant that their quest to find that first win over Cavalry is going to have to wait for another day, as they just couldn’t find a way to crack their Albertan neighbours on the night. 

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, as Edmonton did put up a valiant effort, especially away from home, but at the end of the day, Cavalry stayed hot, finding a way to maintain their strong play as of late. 

Just a quick look at the statistics from this game reflects as much. Be it the Expected Goals (xG) battle, which was 2.27 to 0.72 in Cavalry’s favour, to the possession battle (62%-38%) or even the duels battle (56.3%-43.7%), Cavalry did well to win a lot of important battles on the pitch in this one. 

Again, it wasn’t as if Edmonton didn’t have opportunities of their own, outshooting Cavalry 14 to 12, getting seven shots on target to their hosts’ six, but in the end, Cavalry was more efficient with their opportunities, doing well to be patient in their spells on the ball, before hunting that ball back in the instances that they lost it. 

Through that, they were able to keep their good times rolling, grabbing a fifth-straight win, extending their lead atop the table to four points. Right now, they’re the team to beat in the CPL, and the confidence flowing through the team seems to suggest that they’re not only well aware of that, but are also using that as fuel.

Meanwhile, for Edmonton, however, it’s a tough one to swallow, as despite what the score might suggest, it was a strong effort from the guests. 

Despite heading into a stadium that has haunted them in the past, they put up an honest effort, doing well to even trade punches with Cavalry for the first 25 minutes. 

Plus, even though they went down early, they kept on pushing, nearly clawing things back from down 2-0, before creating a whole host of chances when it was 3-1. 

So although there are areas of Edmonton’s game where they’ll want to clean things out, such as these mistakes that continue to dog them in moments defensively, as well as their ability to finish some of the chances that they’ve been creating, it wasn’t all bad for the guests in this one. 

Therefore, much as they did last time they came to this building, where a strong late performance in a 2-1 Canadian Championship loss gave them momentum to push forward and find a new level in their play, they’ll look to do that once again, starting with their game later this week against a York United side sitting just ahead of them in the standings. 

Aribim Pepple stays hot for Cavalry:

On a team already filled with attacking depth, especially at the #9 position, it was hard to know where Aribim Pepple would slot in when the former Cavalry striker returned to the club earlier this year after a stint in Europe. 

Would he get to partner with one of Joe Mason or Myer Bevan? Could he beat them outright for a spot? Or would he have to settle with opportunities off the bench? 

To begin the season, however, it would be on the bench for the 19-year-old, where he’d slowly get a chance to work his way back into the starting fold. 

There, though, he looked to find a chance to make a mark for himself, and he’d take full advantage of one of those opportunities when it came to him, nabbing a key winner for his team off the bench in a road win over York United in late May. 

Through that, and a host of other injuries to those around him, that thrust him into a starting role for Cavalry, and since then, he hasn’t looked back, scoring in back-to-back starts, extending his goal streak to three. 

That’s where he found himself heading into this game, once again asked to lead the line for his team. 

He wouldn’t miss a beat, either, nabbing an early goal to give his team the lead in this game, extending his goal scoring streak to four games, before adding to it with a goal in the second half.

Not only that, but thanks to those tallies, his fourth and fifth of the season, he’s also now up to second in the CPL Golden Boot race, too, just showing how beneficial this latest run has been for him. 

Yet, that shows how he’s been able to grasp this latest opportunity. 

Having gotten a chance to go out and trial at some top English clubs, including Sheffield United and Leicester, before sticking around in the youth system at Spain’s Getafe, that already showed the talent that the young forward has.

So as he came back to the club where he broke through as a youngster back in 2019, it was going to be interesting to see how he’d grown from those opportunities, having gotten a taste of the European game. 

Which, if these early returns are to mean anything, is a lot. 

Because of that, he’s become a striker to watch in the CPL this year, with this game being a great example of why. 

A big body, he does a great job of playing like a traditional striker, holding up the ball, getting involved physically and making good runs into the box, as he did on his goal.

At the same time, he also manages to influence the game in other ways, too, as he does well to drop deep and influence play, which is reflected in his stats from this game, which included four shots, 18 out of 22 completed passes, one dribble, four fouls drawn and eight out of 13 duels won. Plus, he remains quite involved defensively, too, not afraid to apply pressure on his opponents and get stuck in, which is always a valued attribute of a striker. 

Through that, he has become a force to be reckoned with for Cavalry, giving them another piece to rely on in the attack, helping them extend their hot run. 

As they’ll always preach, Cavalry’s biggest strength is their collective, and the recent rise of Pepple is a great example of that, showing why in light of Victor Loturi’s recent transfer to Scotland’s Ross County, Pepple is one of the next ones to watch in this team right now. 

Pepple's actions from this game (OPTA)
Pepple’s actions from this game (OPTA)

Gabriel Bitar sends a message to his former team: 

On the topic of Cavalry strikers, one such player that used to fit that description, once upon a time, is Edmonton’s Gabriel Bitar, who was actually the first-ever CPL draft selection, selected by Cavalry first overall in the 2018 CPL-USports Draft. 

Not only that, but he was actually drafted twice by them, too, finding himself selected by the club once again in 2019, having returned to university after playing sporadically in the 2019 campaign. 

But then, after a host of factors that included the pandemic and Bitar’s return to school, he wouldn’t be so lucky in the next two drafts, leaving him as a free agent entering this season. 

There, he signed with Edmonton, where he’s quickly become a trusted member of Koch’s side, playing a whole host of roles with the new club, including in midfield, which was a bit of a new role for the striker. 

Usually known for his brash goalscoring ways in USports, scoring 39 goals in 50 games for University of Carleton, he’s become an industrial box-to-box presence for Edmonton, often tasked with doing all sorts of dirty work on both sides of the ball. 

As a result, despite some strong performances, it had left him with some quieter offensive stats than many are used to seeing from him, as through 12 games, one assist was all he had to show for himself in terms of goal contributions. 

In this game, however, against his old club, he came out with a clear intention of changing that. 

Eager to show them what they’re missing out on, he looked like a player intent on dominating the match, nearly scoring a worldie just minutes into the game, before then actually getting one for his first CPL goal not long after. 

Plus, on top of his eye for goal, he was his usual reliable self in midfield, too, putting in a big shift at both ends, doing well to stay involved with his passing and defensive contributions. 

Which considering that he finished with 20 out of 26 passes completed, two shots, one dribble, four long balls, two tackles, one interception and six out of nine duels won, you could see just how efficient that was on the day. 

Yet, for those who have been following Bitar this season for Edmonton, is exactly what he finds a way to do in each and every game. There’s a reason why Koch had no problem shifting him to this new role, and it’s why he’s maintained this role in the squad throughout this campaign.

In a season of opportunity for this Edmonton side, Bitar has fully grasped that, making him a player to keep an eye on going forward, as he looks to keep building on this solid start to the campaign for himself.

Bitar's actions from this game (OPTA)
Bitar’s actions from this game (OPTA) Player of the Match

Aribim Pepple, Cavalry FC

Arguably the most in-form player in the CPL right now, Pepple stayed red-hot for Cavalry today, nabbing two well-taken goals to climb up to second in the Golden Boot race. Plus, he was involved in other areas of the game, too, finishing with four shots, 18 out of 22 completed passes, one dribble, four fouls drawn and eight out of 13 duels won, capping off a solid night for the youngster.

What’s next?

Cavalry are back in action this week, as they head on the road to face Pacific at Starlight Stadium on Thursday, June 30th (6:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. MT). Meanwhile, Edmonton will head home, where a date with York United awaits them on Friday, July 1st at Clarke Stadium (4:00 p.m. MT/6:00 p.m. ET). 

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