Chance to clinch Wild Rose Cup, just what Cavalry FC need to stop slippage

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‘Firsts’ have marked Cavalry FC’s campaign so far this season.

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Right now, that means a slip-up like never before for Calgary’s professional football team.

So, in trying to turn the odd tide, the Cavs are hoping for a bit of familiarity — rather than firsts — on Saturday to get them out of this funk.

And they’ll get it on a schedule that pits them against a new team they’ve never lost to — FC Edmonton at ATCO Field (4 p.m., OneSoccer, OneSoccer.ca).

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It takes the form of a timely match for the local troops.

“Maybe,” Cavalry General Manager/Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said of them.

All in all, that should be a welcome foe for the Cavs, who owned the Eddies with an all-time 10-3-0 record.

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Plus, there’s added incentive to continue that dominance with the Cavs just one point away from securing the Al Classico season series against Edmonton and the No. 1 spot on the line for the Calgary side on the Premier League table. Canadian.

“We never underestimate them – I think that’s probably the best we can say about that,” Wheeldon Jr continued. .

“But this one, we know, means we can win our series (against Edmonton) and win the Wild Rose Cup. And this one is now a good one to go again (for the CPL ranking), because we win and guess what? We are back in first place… but we have to put the points on the board.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy for the Cavs over the past three games. On Tuesday they lost a game 2-1 to arch-nemesis Forge FC after falling 1-0 to York FC and a gruesome 3-0 loss to defending champions Pacific FC.

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But the team is accumulating back-to-back streaks from just one of those firsts it has encountered during the year.

“I think it’s been one of those really interesting learning experiences this season,” said Wheeldon Jr. “It’s the first time we haven’t won in our first three league games. Then we broke our club record for most games unbeaten – that could also be a league record. And then we’ve never lost three games in a row, which we have now.

“But I would rather go through those challenges and triumph through all 28 games now that I find out in the playoffs. First and foremost, we need to stay above this line (the bottom four).

Indeed, the CPL classification worries after the 0-fer-week of Cavalry.

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The team – now 8-4-5 – have dropped to fourth place but are just one point behind Forge, Pacific and Ottawa Atlético, all on 29.

“Just a blip,” Wheeldon Jr. said. “People aren’t used to seeing us having straight losses, let alone three in a row. It’s all in the context. York’s was an anomaly. We should never have lost it – the data backs it up.

“The Pacific one, we chose to protect some of our players and rotated to put some of our other players in a meaningful game, knowing it would be a good game and they could learn from it. That one we would want back, especially the goals we conceded – they were rubbish.

“But this one against Forge, I thought was a really good game. After looking back, we started brilliantly, they came back into the game and we finished really strong. Had it not been for a point-blank save from Triston Henry (on Joe Mason’s tight redirect with his header) or Daan Klomp’s header (missing above the crossbar), we share again the loot. But we want to learn from these great matches – we will learn from them, we will continue to grow and we will continue from there.

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Right in a game against bottom-placed Edmonton (2-5-10) that looks like a perfect moment for the team suddenly collapsing.

“It’s a cup final – that’s it,” added Wheeldon Jr. “We know Edmonton approach it like a cup game every time they play us. So, actually, that’s a great motivation for our players, because we’re talking about wanting to play in these great game experiences.

“Edmonton had all week to prepare, so they have an advantage going into this game because they were able to focus just on us. It’s a great moment for our guys to show a response at home in front of our fans.

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Cavalry striker Aribim Pepple has just hours to work out the terms of joining a foreign club before the transfer window closes on August 1. “Otherwise the discussion is null and void,” Wheeldon Jr. said, so he can move on and we can move on and start seeing how we end the season. … Cavs spark plug Jose Escalante will be available for selection Saturday after serving a one-game suspension Wednesday for too many yellow cards. But fellow midfielder Charlie Trafford is lost to the team for this match due to his accumulation of yellow cards… Defender Bradley Vliet (illness) is allowed back on the roster, but striker Jean-Aniel Assi ( illness) is still out after being placed on COVID protocol ahead of the last game… Captain Mason Trafford (knee) remains doubtful, while striker Myer Bevan (hamstring) is out until at least mid-August … The club’s four long-term injured players are goalkeeper Tyson Farago (back), defender Tom Field (knee) and forwards Anthony Novak (ACL) and Fraser Aird (ACL).

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