2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #9
Cavalry FC vs. HFX Wanderers FC
July 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET/6:00 pm CT
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
Looking to make it three wins from three to start the 2021 Canadian Premier League season, Cavalry FC are back in action on Saturday night, opening this weekend’s slate against an HFX Wanderers side still looking to pick up their first points of the season.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s side is at the top of the table after wins against York United and Atlético Ottawa, 2-1 and 4-1 respectively. Most recently, on Wednesday against Ottawa, a dominant Cavs midfield and impressive effort on defense were rewarded. Ahinga Selemani scored a pair of goals on either side of Ottawa’s lone goal, while Victor Loturi and Elliot Simmons also scored in what turned out to be a comfortable victory in the end.
Cavalry look like a very strong team thus far, and with the likes of Joe Mason still yet to join the squad, could get even better. Despite their success thus far, Cavalry know it’s just two matches, and need to continue to perform at this standard.
“We’re a team that plays what the opposition gives you,” said Wheeldon Jr ahead of Saturday’s match. “If they want to sit low, we’ll pass through, if they want to sit high we’ll play over. We don’t get too caught up in styles or stats — the most important stat in football is wins, and that’s what you get judged on.
“We’re on a platform of victory, so we want to keep that going. Winning is infectious, it’s contagious, and we like chasing victories.”
Stephen Hart’s side, meanwhile, are yet to pick up any points, or score a goal, after 2-0 defeats to Pacific FC and Valour FC, most recently falling to the hosts on Wednesday.
Like in their first match, Halifax struggled to create scoring chances, but looked much-improved. Wanderers attacker Alex Marshall thought he scored his team’s first goal of the season, with his high shot crashing down off the crossbar and seemingly a hair over the line, but the referee wasn’t convinced and waved away protests from the Wanderers attackers.
Goals from CPL Player of the Week Andrew Jean-Baptiste and teammate William Akio were the difference for Valour, but HFX never stopped looking dangerous — they were just unable to find a final moment of brilliance to get on the scoresheet.
“I made a joke with them and said ‘hey, I can’t score it for you’,” said Hart. “On another day you just have to be patient and hope that we find the composure to actually finish the moves.”
3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- Cavalry’s sharp passing plays: A trio of Cavalry newcomers were rock-solid for their side on Wednesday, as defenders Daan Klomp and Karifa Yao, as well as midfielder David Norman Jr, impressed with their defensive solidity, but what really stood out was their passing. Cavalry completed 636 passes against Ottawa, good for second all-time in the CPL, with those three players leading the way and completing 274 of them. Nearly every time the ball was in the Cavalry half, one of the two centre-backs would receive the ball and pass either back to goalkeeper Marco Carducci to cycle it to another defender, to each other, or to Norman Jr at the base of midfield. From there one of them would pass it out wide and Cavalry were back on the attack. It was an extremely successful tactic for getting out of their own half, and one that makes them an enjoyable team to watch.
- Wanderers missing a pair of key players through injury: HFX Wanderers will be without a key player this weekend in defender Peter Schaale. He left the pitch after a quarter of an hour, and won’t be in the lineup on Saturday. Schaale went for x-rays on Friday according to Stephen Hart, and will miss some time. Hart said he will miss Saturday’s game, adding that they will know more when the results come back, and that “he will be out for a little while.” Forward Alessandro Riggi will also not be taking part on Saturday, still recovering from a concussion.
- The emergence of Victor Loturi: One of Cavalry’s standouts thus far has been 20-year-old midfielder Victor Loturi. In the season opener on Sunday, Loturi completed 100% of his 32 passes, on Wednesday scored his first professional goal, and has impressed his head coach. “He was a part of our 2019 squad, and we felt that he didn’t get enough game time because we were very dominant in our league play,” said Wheeldon Jr. “He didn’t have many opportunities — he was still only 17, 18, just finishing high school — so we thought it would be great for him to have a gap year, go to university and play some U Sports, play some USL League Two. Everything shut down — so he missed about 18 months of good football. We’ve been fortunate to keep him in a training environment, he’s been a part of this preseason here, and he’s grown.”
Cavalry wins: 5 || HFX Wanderers wins: 1 || Draws: 1
September 12, 2020 – Cavalry FC 1-2 HFX Wanderers
“Right now what we see with Halifax is the same as what we’ve always seen — they’re competitive, and we’re not going to be fooled by their couple of scorelines. Against Valour, Valour got the victory, but Halifax didn’t stop. We don’t take them lightly — look at the game in the knockout round of the Island Games.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
“They have a squad with a lot of depth, and they’re a physical team. They fight for every ball, for every second ball. They are not afraid to play direct, and they press relentlessly, when they sort of encourage you to play. They’re a good squad and they’re in form early, like all of the other teams that had a little more preparation.” – HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!