Both FC Edmonton and Forge FC will be battling for their first win of the Canadian Premier League season when the soccer teams face one another on Canada Day — but the two sides are in different circumstances.
Forge FC is the defending CPL champion while the Eddies are trying to regroup after finishing last season — which was an abbreviated one because of the COVID-19 pandemic — without a win.
“Forge are a beast in this league,” FC Edmonton coach Alan Koch told reporters on Wednesday. “Their depth is almost second to none.”
Koch noted that after losing their season opener 2-0 to Valour FC on Sunday, Forge FC may be even more difficult to play as they are now “a wounded beast.”
“(But) we’re not intimidated by anybody,” he said. “We don’t fear anybody.
“The desired outcome on Thursday night is to continue to grow.”
Koch was brought in as the Eddies’ new coach in the off-season. He said even though his players lost Saturday’s season opener 1-0 to Atlético Ottawa, he was pleased with their effort and performance.
“You can see already we’re an attacking threat,” he said. “We didn’t score, but we were dangerous.”
Koch noted that with most of his players never having played a match together, let alone with him as coach, the disappointment of losing the first game of the season was tempered somewhat.
“We knew we’d run up against a brick wall eventually, and we did, particularly against a team like Ottawa that’s been in Europe and been playing games,” he said. “Our group grew when we went through all the different training mechanisms we had to go through.
“(Thursday’s match against Forge FC) is an opportunity for us to grow (and) figure out who we are.”
Watch below: Some Global News videos about FC Edmonton.
Despite emphasizing the importance of gelling together as a team, Koch was clear that he and his players still “want to win every game.”
“We’re not shying away from that… (but) we have to stay true to where we’re going,” he explained. “We started at the bottom and we have a steep hill to climb.
“We want to be protagonists (and) we want to play with energy.
“As difficult right now as it is to lay the initial bricks… we need to play the way we know is going to set us up for success in the long term… We’re going to chip away at it.”
Because of uncertainty about restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CPL teams are playing matches at IG Field in Winnipeg for at least the start of the season. The league hopes to have all teams play in their home markets later in the season in front of their hometown fans.
FC Edmonton players to wear orange on Canada Day
For their opening match of the season, FC Edmonton players donned orange jerseys that featured the slogan “every child matters” in an effort to raise awareness about the ongoing impact that Canada’s residential school system has today.
On Wednesday night, a spokesperson for the club confirmed the team will be wearing the orange jerseys again on Canada Day.
“In place of celebration, we choose to use this day to acknowledge the harm done to the Indigenous community,” a statement from the club read. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the many souls lost to residential schools, along with their families, friends and survivors.
“As a club, we vow to continue to use our collective voice to advocate, make time to stay informed and provide support.”