Cavalry look to capitalize 'early and again' to put pressure on Orlando

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The premise seems simple enough …

“Score early … and again,” said Cavalry FC gaffer Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

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And if you’re keeping score, at least once more to dig themselves out of the three-goal hole they’re in heading into the second leg of their Concacaf Champions Cup debut.

Yes … Cavalry needs three more goals than host Orlando SC and — perhaps — a share in penalty kicks to push onward into the second round of the 27-team continental event.

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So then it’s about plenty of pressure from the get-go in Tuesday’s visit to Orlando’s Inter&Co Stadium (4 p.m. MT, OneSoccer, OneSoccer.ca) …

Right?

“A seven,” answered Cavs star midfielder Charlie Trafford, when asked to rate — on a scale from one to 10 — how much his side intends to press the enemy hosts due to the large deficit they find themselves in.

“I think three goals is not insane in a game,” Trafford said. “It happens, so I think we can’t afford to get over-stretched. We need to kind of still grow into the game.”

But they can’t afford to wait too long, because time is absolutely another enemy — other than the obvious fact that Orlando SC is a Major League Soccer powerhouse and the highest quality side Cavalry has ever faced.

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“We are a very aggressive team anyway,” continued the 31-year-old veteran. Like … I thought the first 20 minutes of that first leg like. .. if we can go in and do that again, we’ve got a chance. We had one or two half-chances in that first 20 that if you score one of those in the second leg, the pressure’s all of a sudden on them and the momentum shifts very very quickly, and that tiny bit of doubt may creep into their heads.

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“So I think we’re not going to come out with a 10 — let’s say — and over-stretch ourselves, because we also need to play properly and play our game. But we’re an aggressive team anyway, so I think you come up with a seven or eight and high press and see what happens.”

It helps that Orlando’s is a natural grass pitch — a taste of home for the Cavs, given that ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows is the same.

So that plays into Cavalry’s hands in many ways.

“I think it’s a big field and a very nice grass field,” Trafford said. “So there’s going to be space.

“But it’s going to be hard there. They’re good team, so we need to find ways to get the game in the right areas and not get too stretched, because when there’s holes in us, they capitalize. So we need to stay compact and make sure we’re doing that.

“So we hope that on the bigger field that it does play into our strengths. Obviously, with their quality and their team, it will play into some of their strengths, as well. But, yeah, we hope we can go and dictate ourselves and play the way we actually want to play a bit more than how we were able to do at Starlight Stadium (last Wednesday).”

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For his part, the gaffer just wants to see at least a little bit of what the Cavs brought to the field — a state-of-the-art premium-grade artificial one — in Langford, B.C.

Especially the start.

“We went in there just willing to give everything we had,” Wheeldon said. “I think the first 10 to 15 minutes we showed pressure. Then they got a couple of moments and scored on their third chance. And I think what that did was changed our dynamic. Because they’re more battle-hardened with a little bit more quality leading into this series of games. They had the edge, and they could recognize it. So it was up to us to go again. And I think that second goal really took the wind out of our sails just before halftime.”

The third one simply hurt, making for what many believe is a near-impossible challenge for Cavalry to rebound from — at least on the scoreboard.

“We need to be able to capitalize on any chance we have,” added Wheeldon. “I think back to the time when we beat the Vancouver Whitecaps is we defended with unbelievable blocking in the first game — nil-nil — and when we got to Vancouver, we scored our first chance. So if I reflect now and see our game with Orlando, when we had our first moment — Ali Musse maybe we could have gone down for a penalty early — and I think Tobias Warschewski whipped one in and Sergio Camargo nearly scores. If he just glances it instead of tries to volley, I wonder if it goes in.

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“It’s a game of inches. And then you look at their second goal, and we probably should have blocked it. They get a pass off the deflection off of Jesse Daly and transition. You know, the third goal was Shamit Shome at one end about to make a through pass and they intercept. and then at the other end, they do the through pass that we’re about to do and kill us.

“So it’s these fine margins that you need to have sometimes a bit of luck and then sometimes a bit of execution.”

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Aside from midfielders Diego Gutiérrez (ribs) and Mael Henry (hamstring), Cavalry is as fit as it’s every been heading into Tuesday’s affair. But even Gutiérrez got into the game in Langford, B.C. … Elsewhere in Cup action, five clubs have already won their first-round series, including Mexico’s Club Deportivo Guadalajara — better known as ‘Chivas’ — which eliminated Forge FC, the other CPL entry in the Concacaf Champions Cup. The others are Mexico’s Tigres UANL, which took out the Whitecaps, Mexico’s Club América, Mexico’s C.F. Monterrey and Costa Rica’s Club Sport Herediano … The five top-ranked teams in the bracket all got a bye into the second round. They are: Mexico’s C.F. Pachuca, Suriname’s Robinhood F.C., Costa Rica’s Alajuelense, MLS’ Columbus Crew and MLS’ Inter Miami CF with Lionel Messi.

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