Home field advantages big for host Cavalry FC in Canadian Championship

Home fans, rebounds and good weather for Calgary club in Canadian Championship challenge at ATCO Field

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The tide continues to roll in from the west coast to play Cavalry FC.

It’s been three games and counting for the Islanders and Vancouverites trying to hit the court at ATCO Field… with little success to show for it.

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The next wave to try?

It’s Major League Soccer’s mighty Vancouver Whitecaps (as big of a boost as it gets on the country’s left coast) for the start of soccer’s second round at the 2024 Canadian Championship.

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“Another exciting opportunity for the club,” said Caballería superstar midfielder Sergio Camargo ahead of Tuesday’s match at ATCO Field (7 p.m., OneSoccer, OneSoccer.ca). “Every time we get a chance to face MLS competition, it’s just another opportunity for us to see where we are and what lessons we’ve learned from the past.”

In fact, it’s a big deal, because it comes in the pursuit of the coveted Voyageurs Cup and against a big-name Canadian team in a second such two-game series for Cavalry against an MLS team in just a few months.

But unlike the Cavalry’s 6-1 loss to Orlando City SC in the Concacaf Champions Cup in late February, this home set match is actually scheduled for ATCO Field and not Starlight Stadium in the Vancouver Island.

Home sweet home, that is.

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“Yeah…it’s certainly different, because we were playing the game at home and there was no advantage against Orlando,” Wheeldon said. “Here we have an advantage. This is our speech. We are on the grass.

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“He’s not in his mid-season form yet. But we know that the rebounds are there and we are starting to take advantage of them.”

That was evident in Friday night’s 3-1 win over Vancouver FC in Canadian Premier League action.

In fact, the scoreline flattered the visitors from VanCity, as the hosts proved dominant on their home field, just in time for this huge Cup match.

“This is about what we’ve learned from Orlando and our preseason in Mexico, where teams play a little faster than normal CPL teams,” Camargo said. “Can we adapt to that speed and intensity, and can we make the decisions necessary to move forward and win a game?”

“If we had another chance in Orlando, obviously we would like to achieve a better result,” Cavs teammate Fraser Aird continued. “But it was a great learning experience for the club: the first time participating in that Champions Cup. And we can only learn from it. “Five games into our season, I think we are in a better position than we were in February.”

The proof is in their home performances in the last three matches during a busy 11-day stretch: that dominance over Vancouver FC, which followed a goalless draw with rival Pacific FC and a 1-0 lead over Vancouver FC, despite playing with only 10 men. during the last 40 minutes.

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“We had a good game against Pacific; I felt like we should have won that (no-no) game,” Wheeldon said. “But we put in a good performance again against Vancouver FC (Friday).”

FC Cavalry
Cavalry Charlie Trafford (R) charges towards the net and ultimately scores during CPL soccer action at ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows in Calgary on Friday, May 3, 2024. Jim Wells/Postmedia

“We’ve had a real taste of the West Coast here and played well,” agreed Cavalry president Ian Allison. “So I hope the tide continues in the right direction for us, because we have a good club and a good process.”

They could also be helped by a good (actually bad) stretch of weather for Tuesday’s tilt.

“The other day we were talking about the snow, rain and cold weather here,” Allison said of the rain and cool temperatures in the game-time forecast. “We would like them to get out of their comfort zone. They’re used to playing at BC Place on grass and all that kind of stuff.

“It’s supposed to be a little soggy here Tuesday night, and we’re farmers, so we don’t mind the humidity.”

Of course, in the first of these four visits by west coast teams, the Cavs booked their spot in Round 2 against the Whitecaps with that gutsy win over Vancouver FC.

“We’re in a good place,” said Wheeldon, of his team that has a 1W-2D-1L record in the league, is 2-2-3 in all competitions and is undefeated in its last three games. “And I think what we have to do now is rise to the challenge of playing against an established club like the Whitecaps, who are also on a good run.

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“The Whitecaps are playing well.”

In fact, they have lost just two games in 10 MLS tournaments to go with a 5-2-3 record.

But like the Caballería, they suffered an early exit in the Concacaf Champions Cup, losing 4-1 in the first round of two legs to the Mexican monster Tigres UANL.

However, unlike the Cavalry, they were fortunate enough to play one of those games in the familiar confines of BC Place.

So the Cavs hope to turn the tide of this two-player game with the help of home-field advantage.

FC Cavalry
Cavalry Charlie Trafford celebrates his goal in the first half during CPL soccer action at ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows in Calgary on Friday, May 3, 2024. Jim Wells/Postmedia

“Hopefully we can take advantage of that advantage to give ourselves a boost and bring a result west to Vancouver (on May 21),” Camargo said. “As good as we were at turning those Orlando games from negative to positive, it’s never the same as playing at ATCO Field. We had some traveling fans, who were great, in BC, and even traveled to Orlando, which was huge. But there’s nothing like having home fans at ATCO Field pushing us forward with every touch and every good move and good dribble that we make.”

“And our fans have been brilliant,” Wheeldon added. “For us it is very important that more and more people fill the house and paint the city red, because they act like the twelfth man. And I think when you play against a club like the Whitecaps, you have to make sure you have every advantage possible.”

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Cavalry superstar and forward Ali Musse is doubtful to line up against the Whitecaps after spraining his ankle early in Friday’s win… Teammate Tom Field (leg) is also doubtful after suffering an injury in that win on Vancouver FC, too… Fellow Cavalry defender Eryk However, Kobza (pinched nerve) is ready to play, as is midfielder Jesse Daley (leg). The Calgary CPL club unveiled the roster, which includes goaltender Joseph Holliday, for its Alberta League 1 men’s team on Monday. Cavalry FC U21 opens against Edmonton Scottish League1 on Friday night at the Calgary West Soccer Center (5 p.m.). Men’s league action begins Tuesday with Calgary Foothills FC hosting Calgary Callies United at the Macron Performance Center (8 p.m.)… Alberta League 1 women’s play also begins Tuesday night, when Calgary Foothills host Calgary Callies United, also at the Macron Performance Center. (5:30 pm).

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