Saturday is set to be a sensational day for soccer fans in Calgary, as the Canadian Premier League’s only two undefeated teams go head-to-head in what will be the first-ever Battle of Alberta in the CPL.
“I think it’s massive,” FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus told reporters on Wednesday.
“There’s a dislike. There’s a competition for who’s better and this will come out on the weekend.”
Cavalry FC, who will host the match, currently sits atop the CPL standings in the young spring season, having won each of their first three games. In its first two games of the season, FC Edmonton have secured a victory and a draw.
Watch below: Some Global News videos about FC Edmonton.
According to Paulus, the soccer version of the Battle of Alberta will only be more intense because of the quality starts each side has had to their seasons.
Watch below: (From May 16, 2019) For sports fans, the Battle of Alberta usually conjures up thoughts of epic hockey battles. But this weekend, a CPL soccer version of the Battle of Alberta will take place in Calgary. Kevin Karius explains.
Paulus added that he believes regional rivalries in the CPL draws additional interest from fans and can only help grow support for the league, which is in its inaugural season.
“This is cities’ prides on the line, this is bigger than just soccer…these type of moments here.”
Watch below: Some Global News videos about Cavalry FC.
Paulus joked that the Alberta rivalry takes on added significance because of the different teams he and Cavalry FC’s head coach support in England’s Premier League.
“This is great because Tommy’s (Wheeldon Jr.) an Everton fan and he doesn’t have a whole lot to cheer about these days, and I’m a Liverpool fan,” he said of England’s legendary crosstown rivalry.
The last significant outdoor soccer game between Edmonton and Calgary took place 36 years ago when both cities had teams in the Canadian Professional Soccer League. In that 1983 game, the Edmonton Eagles defeated the Calgary Mustangs in a playoff match.
While fans and players may hope the soccer version of the Battle of Alberta brings some of the intensity that’s on display when the Oilers meet the Flames on the ice, Paulus said that ultimately, the game matters a lot even if it weren’t against a provincial rival.
“Bigger picture, this is important because if Calgary gets a result, then it looks like they’ll run away with the spring season,” he said. “Every team will be rooting for us in this one.
“This game is going to be as much about passion and emotion as it is going to be about tactics so it’s what players go out there and are hungry and want it more.”
Paulus said in addition to continuing their winning ways, he hopes his players continue to gel with one another and get better with each match.
“We’re still in the process of defining what we’re going to be on the pitch.”
The game between FC Edmonton and Cavalry FC kicks off at 4 p.m. on Saturday.