NASL.com begins its Countdown To 2014 Fall Season with the help of guest writer Carlos Verde, as he previews FC Edmonton and Indy Eleven on their quest for the remaining berths to ‘The Championship.’
By Carlos Verde
FC Edmonton Preview
FC Edmonton's 2014 Spring Season was the epitome of 'up-and-down'. The Eddies enjoyed significant success in domestic cup play, while falling short many nights in NASL play. While Colin Miller's squad had some difficulty finding the net for the majority of their spring campaign, they displayed staunch, organized defending throughout. Highlights of their Spring campaign included a resounding 6-1 victory over Carolina and a 2-1 victory away from home against Indy Eleven.
The Eddies' strength lies within their bullish, well-organized defending. Led defensively by captain Albert Watson, the Eddies conceded 11 goals in nine matches, good for 4th-best in the NASL, despite the team finishing 9th in the NASL standings.
Miller brings a very British, direct approach to the game. Some Caribbean flair is noticeable in the squad, with the likes of defenders Lance Laing (Jamaica), Kareem Moses (Trinidad & Tobago), and midfielder Horace James (Jamaica) all mainstays in Miller's Starting XI.
"I really like the athleticism, and pace, that some of those guys bring to our team," says the Eddies coach.
Any team of Miller's is sure to be defensively sound, and the Eddies are no different with strong defense as a major focus.
FC Edmonton made no changes over the course of the summer break, but manager Miller hints, "There are always irons in the fire..."
Summer Break Matches
The Eddies' West Coast tour began on June 29th with a 5-1 win over the Kamloops All-Stars, followed by a victory over PDL side Victoria Highlanders 2-0 and culminated with critical victory 2-0 in their international friendly against USA’s Seattle Sounders FC of MLS.
"The Spring Season was interesting. We lost four games by one goal. We're not a million miles away, we just need that belief and aggression going forward that we showed against Carolina. No one likes to come into Edmonton, and we want to make sure that reputation of being difficult to beat continues."
Finding themselves six points back of the final spot in 'The Championship', FC Edmonton will hope to bottle their 'mojo' from their Spring Season-ending 6-1 victory over Carolina in search of more offense. Through the first eight games of the NASL Spring Season, the Eddies had scored just five goals and dropped multiple points in low-scoring affairs, thus Miller will hope his squad make gains in the offensive third while maintaining their defensive integrity.
Daryl Fordyce - The Northern Irish striker was an offensive force for FC Edmonton with five goals this past Spring Season. The former Portsmouth native was arguably the most potent attacker for the Eddies, with coach Miller confidently saying, "He's one of the top strikers in the league, an excellent footballer. The standard he sets in training everyday for the young lads is exemplary."
Albert Watson - An uncompromising defender with an incredible work rate, Watson brings tons of experience and excellent defensive instincts to the heart of the Eddies defense. A true ironman, Watson played every match for Edmonton minus one, which he missed due to suspension. Miller describes Watson as an 'old-school' centerback who takes pride in his defending.
Indy Eleven Preview
Indy Eleven's Spring campaign was one of frustration for Juergen Sommer's expansion club, after promisingly drawing their opening two matches, Indy slumped to four straight defeats. While Indy was winless in their NASL debut, there were plenty of positives, with a league-high four draws, including one against the defending Soccer Bowl champion New York Cosmos on May 24th. Sommer's team was never outclassed by any means and enjoyed the consensus best support in the league, drawing over ten thousand fans at every home game.
Indy are very hard-working and have no problem scoring goals, as they tied for 3rd in the league in offense. Led by veteran Mike Ambersley, who tied for the NASL lead with five goals, Indy scored 14 times and played a very quick, aggressive brand of soccer which won the hearts of the Mike Carroll Stadium faithful.
Right from its opening announcement of expansion, Indy's ownership stated its goal were to build a team which was reflective of their city. As such, Indy's roster has many quality players from the region, such as defender Kyle Hyland (who attended IUPUI in Indianapolis) and midfielder A.J. Corrado (who played at the University of Indiana). Coupled with overseas signings Kléberson of Brazil as well as Hondurans Erick Norales, and Walter Ramirez, Indy's squad has proven it's more than able to compete with the best the NASL has to offer.
Coach Sommer has only dipped into the transfer market once this summer. With Montreal Impact loanee Blake Smith performing so well for Indy (five goals in six overall appearances), Indy have decided to bring in another loan player with midfielder Victor Pineda joining the squad from the Chicago Fire. Pineda has plenty of international experience at the youth level representing the United States.
Summer Break Matches
Indy Eleven played just one match over the summer break, losing in extra time against the Columbus Crew in Fourth Round of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup
“The Spring Season provided quite the learning curve for our players and our staff. We're looking forward to applying the lessons we learned and bringing our fans some long overdue wins during the Fall Season. The team found out very quickly how high the level of play in the NASL is during the Spring Season. While the wins did not come, I thought we matched the level of competitiveness game in and game out as we tinkered with how to come together as a unit."
Indy will look to find the magic formula and pick up its first NASL win in club history early in the Fall Season. Being ten points back of the final combined spot in 'The Championship', Indy will in all likelihood need to win the Fall Season title to play post-season footy.
Mike Ambersley - The NASL veteran tied for the league lead in scoring, and possesses that scorer's knack for being in the right place at the right time. Ambersley, who’s a reliable penalty-taker for Indy, he is also third on the NASL all-time scoring list in the modern era (24).
Erick Norales - The Honduran must lead the backline for Juergen Sommer's squad as the international defender who last played for CD Vida in Honduras will be looked upon to improve the Indy defense which allowed a league-high 20 goals.