War Games: Ten-man Cavalry set up another Canadian Championship clash with ‘Caps after dispatching Vancouver FC

War Games: Ten-man Cavalry set up another Canadian Championship clash with ‘Caps after dispatching Vancouver FC

Another dance with the Whitecaps is in store for Cavalry FC, who progressed to the quarter-finals of the Canadian Championship on Tuesday night with a 1-0 victory over visiting Vancouver FC at Spruce Meadows.

Tobias Warschewski scored the lone goal of the first-round cup match when he headed the ball just inside Callum Irving’s right-hand post in the 65th minute. The German’s header came just five minutes after Cavalry went down a man following a red card to midfielder Shamit Shome.

“I’m excited to score my first goal, even at home,” said Warschewski, who joined Cavalry this season after previously playing for FC Edmonton in 2021 and 2022.

“I think right now, we need to keep going and go from game to game.”

Cavalry entered Tuesday’s match – their first at home in 2024 – still seeking a first win of the calendar year. The Calgarians fell 2-1 in their Canadian Premier League season-opener to Forge FC, before rescuing a point late in a 1-1 draw with Atlético Ottawa at TD Field last weekend.

Before that, Cavalry lost their two CONCACAF Champions Cup matches in February to MLS side Orlando City.

Vancouver, on the other hand, came into Tuesday’s battle unbeaten in the CPL, after a pair of home wins over Halifax Wanderers and Valour FC to start the 2024 season.

Playing with the same starting 11 that featured in both of those victories, the visitors’ confidence was on display in the first half. Vancouver took the match to Cavalry in the opening 20 minutes, pinning the hosts on their heels.

While Vancouver showed promise in the early stages of the proceedings, Cavalry came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute, when Ali Musse was sprung on a breakaway on a Cavalry counter-attack, following a through pass from Lucas Dias.

But Musse scuffed the shot, which was blocked by VFC ‘keeper Callum Irving.

Vancouver responded immediately with Marco Carducci diving at the feet of Moses Dyer to deny the Kiwi striker.

Musse nearly made amends just after the half-hour mark, when he cut in to beat Paris Gee on the right wing and then curled in a shot with his left foot. But the ball whistled past Irving’s far post.

Cavalry’s night seemed to take a turn for the worse 15 minutes into the second half, when Shome was shown red for a late tackle in midfield on Vasco Fry.

But despite the loss of Shome, Cavalry’s second-half subs, including Lleyton Brooks, Diego Gutierrez, and Sergio Camargo, showed plenty of eagerness on the ball.

That attacking energy paid dividends when Warschewski earned his goal. After his shot was initially blocked, the ball fell to Gutierrez. He shifted the ball out to the right, and Fraser Aird crossed it into the box.

While former Cavalry player David Norman Jr. initially got his head to the ball, it fell perfectly for Warschewski to nod home at the far post to earn his first goal in a Cavalry kit.

While he was happy to register his first “Tor” for Cavalry, Warschewski gave kudos to his teammates for “giving everything” to win the match.

“That’s what is so special about the team,” he said. “Everybody is on one page and it felt like we got even closer together. Every single one of us gave everything in every tackle and every situation and every battle.”

Vancouver still had their chances after going down, however. Most notably, Dyer struck a shot from distance that Carducci comfortably saved in the 74th minute. Then, Jose Navarro had a chance following a VFC corner in the 89th minute that Carducci had to parry away from danger.

“They’re deep,” said Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. of Vancouver’s competitive start to 2024. “Like Ottawa, they made some really good off-season signings.

“They’ve got terrific footballers, a nice shape to them and they’re tough to break down as well. They’ve only conceded two goals in three games and they’re playing an attractive brand of football. I think they’re going to have a good go this season.”

Whitecaps up next

Thanks to their win, Cavalry will now prepare to face Vancouver Whitecaps in the second round of the cup, marking the third time they’ve taken on the MLS side in the Canadian Championship.

Cavalry lost in a penalty shootout the last time the two teams faced each other in 2022, following a 1-1 draw in regulation time. Before that, the Calgarians famously overcame the ‘Caps in the 2019 edition of the tournament.

Differing from their previous encounters with Cavalry, the Whitecaps will enter this year’s Canadian Championship in red-hot form, as Vanni Sartini’s side currently sit second in MLS’ Western Conference with a 5-1-2 record.

“I’ve enjoyed watching some of their games,” said Wheeldon Jr. “Vanni and his staff are doing a good job with them and we’re playing them in good form. We’ve got to improve what we do. I know it’s coming up pretty soon, so I think we’ll put this game to bed. We’re excited for the opportunity to play them again.”

The match-up will be a two-legged affair, with Cavalry hosting the first leg at Spruce Meadows on Tuesday May 7.

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