Pacific FC, FC Edmonton set to continue CPL rivalry

Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah had a quick answer when asked how to stymie lanky FC Edmonton striker Easton Ongaro, who has twice found a way behind the PFC defence to score this season.

“We stop him by not giving him chances,” said Kah.

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That’s one way to look at it.

At six-foot-six, Ongaro is hard for any defender to miss on the pitch. The Edmonton native and University of Alberta Golden Bears product, who got a look last season in the Danish First Division with two goals in seven games for Vendsyssel FC, tallied the lone goal for the Eddies in a 2-1 loss to PFC on Sept. 4 at Clarke Stadium and also one of the goals in the come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Starlight Stadium on Aug. 7. He has 19 goals in 45 career appearances for FC Edmonton and was named to the Canada U-23 ­provisional roster for the 2020 CONCACAF Olympic qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics before the tournament was pushed back to this year and he aged out.

The Eddies and PFC meet again tonight at Clarke Stadium in the Alberta capital. Although separated by a wide margin in the Canadian Premier League standings — PFC leads at 10-3-4 while FC Edmonton is seventh at 4-8-5 — the Eddies have given the Tridents trouble this season. Not only that, but FC Edmonton is coming off a 3-0 victory over Valour FC of Winnipeg in its last game. That landed three Eddies on the CPL team of the week — defender Amer Didic, midfielder and former Seattle Sounders Academy player Azriel Gonzalez and striker Tobias Warschewski, who is showing why he was a former Germany U-19 player and Dortmund prospect.

You don’t get to be a Germany U-19 player without having some chops, Eddies head coach Alan Koch noted, after his club’s last game on the Island.

Throw in hometown ­product and FC Edmonton captain Shamit Shome, with two caps for Canada and who played in Major League Soccer with Montreal Impact from 2017 to 2020, and the Eddies possibly have the makings of something. It just hadn’t meshed before the breakout victory over Valour FC.

PFC, however, has proved a tougher nut to crack, although the rally for a draw at Starlight is certainly one of the season highlights for the Eddies.

“The past is the past. This is a new game,” said Kah.

Attacking-midfielder Manny Aparicio, a darting and dangerous presence in playing all 180 minutes of PFC’s two victories the past week over the Eddies and Cavalry FC of Calgary, was also named to the CPL team of the week. The former Toronto FC MLS prospect has really stepped up in the absence of the dynamic but injured attacking-midfielder Marco Bustos to underscore the depth on the PFC roster.

“We are not stagnate. We have versatile players,” said Kah. “We can mix it up a bit. The players know their roles and responsibilities. It creates competition.”

Pacific FC will return home to meet last-place Atletico Ottawa on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Starlight Stadium.

CORNER KICKS: FC Edmonton bench boss Koch was formerly head coach with FC Cincinnati in MLS with Kah as his assistant coach. “You can see the growth in this PFC club and I’m proud of [Kah],” said Koch, after playing the Tridents last month.

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