Cavalry FC (Calgary)
Why they will win: I’m going to skip ahead to why they won’t, because maybe there’s a silver lining to be found there. Cavalry’s big hurdle to overcome is the seemingly endless sequence of blows they’ve taken to their attacking group.
To recap: Julian Buscher and Dominique Malonga left, Richard Luca and Jose Escalante never got in the country, Jose Hernandez and Jair Cordova got injured, then Sergio Camargo got injured, and then Oliver Minatel broke his leg.
If Hernandez, Cordova, and Camargo can’t get back or aren’t fit enough to make an impact, you’re basically looking at a front three of Nico Pasquotti, Marcus Haber, and Jordan Brown backed up by Aribim Pepple. That might be OK in the goalscoring department, but there’s a serious lack of the kind of invention needed to create chances in the first place.
But here’s the thing: Cavalry might still trail behind the other three teams in this round at the top end of the pitch even with Camargo. And you wonder if they would be better off accepting that and placing an emphasis on the second half of Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s ‘pretty or gritty’ motto — and more likely to do so with every new injury or setback that comes their way.
The way they ground out a 1-0 victory over York9 — and we know now that a draw would have seen them eliminated — is the blueprint.
Why they won’t win: See above. Cavalry has scored two goals in its past three games — one a penalty and the other off a goalkeeping error. They’ve been held under one expected goal in three of their past four.
They just aren’t creating much, so can they score enough to get by off set pieces and mistakes? Marco Carducci, Dominick Zator, and co. are going to need to be at their very best.