Eddies' Deep Squad Setting Pace In Fall Season

FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller feels he has more quality players at his disposal than at any time in club history – and it shows in the results
Jack Bell (@JackBell} | Aug 2, 2016

Photo credit: FC Edmonton

On the heels of an eight-game winning streak at Clarke Field, the Eddies play two of their next three games on the road, at Puerto Rico FC and then at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Last year in Edmonton, Tomi Ameobi and Lance Laing formed a forward-midfield dynamic duo that produced 15 goals and nine assists. Laing moved on to Minnesota United, and perhaps one of the fears in Alberta was that the Eddies would be hard-pressed to find a replacement on the left side of the field.

But instead of enlisting one towering individual, FC Edmonton has cast a wider net and brought in a haul of quality players that has propelled the club to the top of the Fall Season Standings, tied on points with the New York Cosmos.

“Not to put down anything Lance did for us, he deserved all the credit he was getting, but what concerned me was how much everyone was pinning our success on Lance,” FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller told “Any club looking for one guy to score puts pressure on everyone else.”

He added: “Now we’re doing the work with better players on a different level than we had before.”

From back to front, older to younger, Canadians to international players – the Eddies are deeper and the results prove it. FC Edmonton ran its Clarke Field winning streak to eight games after Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Carolina RailHawks. The club trails the Cosmos only on goal differential (plus-four to plus-three) and has a game in hand on the defending league champions ahead of a trip to play at Puerto Rico FC on Saturday night.

In the back, it all starts with the inspired play of goalkeeper Matt VanOekel, who Miller said ranks among the best in the business in North America. In front of VanOekel, the addition of Papé Diakite, Adam Eckersley, and Shawn Nicklaw, with the holdover Albert Watson, gives Miller an experienced and solid line of defense that has yielded a league-low three goals in the Fall Season (a total of 10 in the Spring and Fall Season).

“I’ve watched him at one of my old clubs in Scotland, Hearts,” Miller said, referring to Eckersley. “We needed a left back and he gives us absolute quality on the left side. All of these guys are leaders and are contributing.”

Up front, Ameobi remains the target man, often a lone striker, who “keeps center backs on their toes,” and is complemented by young American Jake Keegan and Northern Irish dangerman Daryl Fordyce. Those two have combined for eight goals this year. Miller was effusive in his praise of Eddies Academy product Shamit Shome, who at 18 years old has started nine games but is still looking for his first goal of the year. In addition, the club recently acquired Canadian youth international Ben Fisk, 23, a quick wing who played the past two years in Spain.

In the middle of the field, the Salvadoran international Dustin Corea, who grew up in Oregon, has emerged as the creative fulcrum for FC Edmonton.

“Dustin’s a player we’ve really not had at the club before,” Miller said. “In my first couple of years here the biggest thing was to try and change the culture of the club, and for that we need flair players. Dustin is a huge part of our club. He’s got a good, creative attitude, and it’s important that we’re able to attract these kinds of players – a guy who’s a very attack-minded player. But what goes unnoticed is also that he’s doing his job defensively. He looks as if he’s enjoying his football, which is great.”

The Eddies also expect to garner more of that “creative attitude” and flair as Pedro Galvao and Gustavo Salgueiro earn more quality minutes as the 22-game Fall Season wears on.

“We’re bringing in better players, technical players who want the ball,” Miller said. “Look at Sunday’s game when all three subs – Fisk, Gustavo, and Galvao – came on. They went looking for more goals when it used to be we’d simply be trying to hang on. Now we’re looking for more goals.

“Now the big test for this group is having this mentality while taking it on the road.”

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