HFX Wanderers – Match Report Vs. Cavalry FC (05/09/2022)

HFX Wanderers drew 0-0 with Cavalry FC in CPL action. It was quite a dull game overall but the young back three of the Wanderers all turned in strong performances. Cavalry matched HFX’s 3-5-2 with a 4-2-3-1.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Cristian Campagna

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 29/11/2001
  • Current Club: HXF Wanderers
  • Career: Vancouver Whitecaps (Y), University at Albany Great Danes, Vancouver Whitecaps 2
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Cristian Campagna played on the left side of a back three in this match. He looked very comfortable and I would not be surprised if he isn’t in the CPL for long.

Campagna demonstrated fantastic 1v1 defending and good positional awareness. He was not dribbled past at all and he looked very strong in aerial duels. He also had good positional awareness. He made some interceptions and had a good sense of when to leave his position on the left side to make a defensive play. He made one very key block in particular after a difficult bounce beat the other two centre-backs but Campagna moved across to block a very dangerous shot with perfect timing. Campagna looked the most comfortable on the ball of the three centre-backs. He did not hesitate to play the ball forward, did a little bit of successful carrying, and broke Cavalry’s lines a few times. But there were a couple of times where he missed a simple pass to Gabriel Escobar on the wing. His passing looked like a strength for the vast majority of the game so I have to chalk these up to Campagna losing concentration for a moment.

It is worth remembering that he is still quite young and relatively inexperienced as a professional. This will be something to watch closely for the rest of the CPL season. Campagna’s first touch and close control were solid. He was able to step around pressing opponents a couple of times but looked a bit unsure as his dribbling moves progressed. A move to the midfield probably isn’t in his future but his technical skills are solid enough for a centre-back. He also looked quite comfortable using both feet which is a plus.

Rating: A1

I was quite surprised that the Vancouver Whitecaps did not offer him a first-team contract on the back of his strong performances in MLS Next Pro. So, conversely, I was not surprised that he looked excellent in CPL. If an MLS opportunity does not come for him in the next 18 months or so, I think he would be a good pick-up for a lot of teams in Europe. CPL players have recently moved to the Scottish Premiership, the Norwegian Obos Ligaen, and Ligue 2 in France. If Campagna continues to do well, as I expect he will, then there could be an appropriate move for him somewhere in that range. 

Jake Ruby

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 04/06/2000
  • Current Club: HFX Wanderers
  • Career: Vancouver Whitecaps (Y), TWU Spartans, Victoria Highlanders
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Jake Ruby played in the right side of HFX’s back three in this match and was generally quite solid. I was excited to see him in that position as he really impressed me last season playing a defensive fullback role. But injuries have severely limited how much he has been able to take part this season.

His good defending carried over into this match, he was a rock defensively. Ruby is just very good at getting his body between the opposition in the goal. He makes a ton of tackles, interceptions, blocks, and clearances. His one defensive flaw is that he is not the biggest player, standing only 5’8. He was not called upon in that many aerial duels in this match so it’s hard to say how much of a hindrance that will be. But if he keeps playing as a centre-back that will be something to watch for. He was fine in the one or two aerial duels he was called on in this match so the early signs are positive. Ruby occasionally looked a bit awkward in his movements, perhaps a result of so much time being out injured, but you can’t say he was not effective.

Unfortunately, while he is a rock defensively, he is also a bit of a rock with the ball at his feet. He did not lose the ball in this match but there was a sense that disaster could strike at any moment when he had the ball at his feet. He rarely carried or played forward, usually just keeping it safe. He did have a small number of progressive passes so maybe there is more to come from him, but overall he did not offer very much. 

Rating – A2

I am a fan. I think teams should watch how he comes back from injury carefully before making a move for him but he is just a beast defensively and I think somebody at a higher level should be able to find a role for him. 

Mohamed Omar

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 01/22/1999
  • Current Club: HFX Wanderers
  • Career: Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Black Rock FC
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Mohamed Omar played in the middle of the Wanderer’s back three. He looked solid enough but was not quite as dominant as I would hope for a player with his resume. Omar was the weakest 1v1 defender of the back three. He was not terrible by any means, but he often looked a bit stiff when defending against dribblers and seemed to have some trouble dealing with quick changes of direction.

He was very solid in the air, helped by being quite tall. He did show some good skill with the ball, which you would hope for since he sometimes plays in the midfield. He made a handful of good passes under pressure and in one instance carried the ball almost the full length of the field. But he also looked a bit timid to use those skills at times. Perhaps this is partly a confidence issue, it’s his first year as a professional and he seems to have dealt with some injury problems. But he does have the ability so perhaps as he gets more reliable minutes this is something he will improve at.

Omar would frequently defend a bit more aggressively than his defensive partners. He stepped into the midfield a lot, operating almost as a #6. He has a good sense of positioning and is generally quite intelligent defensively so usually this worked fine for him. However, he is not the quickest player in the world and that held back his effectiveness to a certain extent. 

Rating – B2

Mohamed Omar was going to be signed by the Colorado Rapids but was prevented from doing so by slightly nebulous roster limitations. He looked good in this match but I am not sure I would sign him, were I in charge of an MLS team. If he can stay fit and get consistent minutes for the rest of the season he could perhaps make a case but at 23 he has a fairly limited window to make his case if he’s going to be more than a fringe player at that level. 

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