The casual fans among the 4,069 in attendance Sunday afternoon at Westhills Stadium might have been surprised to learn FC Edmonton had not scored in its previous six soccer games and 587 minutes in total.
That’s because the Eddies (2-4-2) scored more than enough in a 3-1 Canadian Premier League victory over Pacific FC (2-5-2) to dramatically end their goal drought.
It was an odd game with PFC controlling much of the possession with frustratingly little to show for it except Victor Blasco’s spectacularly-struck late goal at 83 minutes that was hardly enough.
Against-the-flow goals by Tomi Ameobi at 32 minutes, Oumar Diouck at 37 minutes and Bruno Zebie at 79 minutes had already put it away by then for FC Edmonton.
Blasco hit the post twice in the first half in a game of inches that might have swung the other way.
“We were unlucky,” said Blasco, the native of Mallorca, Spain, and former MLS Vancouver Whitecaps prospect.
“We need to be careful with the long through balls [for goals] that Edmonton punished us with. Football is a game where sometimes you go home ... thinking you did nothing, but won, and other times thinking you did well but got nothing.”
The PFC players just need to keep doing what they are doing, said Blasco.
“I think it’s going to work. We believe in every one of us.”
Pockmarked with injuries to key veteran players such as 27-time Canada capped Marcus Haber and German-import Hendrik Starostzik, among several others, PFC was again forced to field a young line-up.
Texas native and former Montreal Impact MLS pro defender Blake Smith was among the few veterans on the field for PFC.
“Luck was on their [Eddies’] side,” said Smith, who is on loan from FC Cincinnati of MLS.
“They had three opportunities to score and they obviously finished their chances. We had a few mental lapses and they cost us.” Two of those chances were on fine high lead passes launched by FC Edmonton’s Spanish-import midfielder Ramon Soria.
Pacific FC was methodical but most of its ball control was in the midfield area with few threatening forays into the Eddies’ box.
“We are a possession-based team that builds up its attack from the back,” said Smith.
But that build-up could not unlock the door of the staunch defence of a bigger, stronger and heavier FC Edmonton team.
“I thought 95 percent of what we did was good. This is the way we want to play. This is the way forward for our players,” said PFC head coach Michael Silberbauer.
“[But] we have to learn from the few mistakes we made.”
There may have only been three defensive breakdowns but they proved costly for PFC. There’s not much room for response in a low-scoring sport like soccer when your opponent punishes you three times like that in a game.
Maybe it was just that FC Edmonton was due.
“Our difficulty in scoring [over the previous six games] was our own doing,” said Eddies head coach Jeff Paulus.
“We were getting the ball in better [Sunday] to areas where we wanted to get it to.”
PFC’s next game is July 1 at Westhills Stadium against league-leading Cavalry FC of Calgary. Cavalry needs two points from its next two games, including the Canada Day fixture on the Island, to clinch the 10-game CPL spring season title and guarantee a berth in the two-game, aggregate CPL championship final over the Oct. 26-27 and Nov. 2-3 weekends against the winner of the 18-game second portion of the season.
Pacific FC has the one game against Cavalry remaining in the spring season. The remaining spring games are still important to all the teams because should Cavalry FC also win the second half of the season, the team with the next best overall record over the two parts of the season, will get the second berth into the league final.