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Stats show link between number of draws and playoffs; are there lessons there for MLS?

MLS-logoAs of Thursday, 31.7 per cent of Major League Soccer’s game end in draws.

That’s not a number that falls far from the conventional soccer wisdom that says that between a quarter and 30 per cent of all games will end in ties. But, probability changes as the game evolves. And, if you look at other leagues around the world, the 30-per-cent-draw figure isn’t such an accurate reflection of how the game is being played nowadays. The rate of draws is actually closer to 20 per cent, if you look at the major Euro circuits.

In the previous English Premier League season, just 78 of 380 matches ended in draws — or a shade above 20 per cent. Major League Soccer has seen 61 draws already, in just 192 games played so far in 2014.

In the previous Bundesliga campaign, 64 of 306 matches ended in draws. Just a bit under 21 per cent, and consistent to the English trend. In Spain, 86 of 380 matches were even after full time, a rate of 22.6 per cent. A little higher than in England or Germany, but nowhere close to MLS.

In the 2013 season, MLS had a 25.4 draw percentage. Slightly higher than the elite-European-league norm, but 2014 is trending upwards, thanks to the likes of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Chicago Fire, who each have drawn more than half of the games on their schedules (and, so fitting, played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday).
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Will Shaun Saiko return to Edmonton this weekend? Colin Miller says “I couldn’t care less”

Shaun Saiko

Shaun Saiko

After an injury-filled spring NASL season, Canadian midfielder Shaun Saiko is healthy again.

Now, the question: Will he be with the San Antonio Scorpions when the team travels to Edmonton for this Sunday’s date with FC Edmonton? Will FC Edmonton’s all-time leading scorer, now a member of the Scorpions, get the chance to return home and play against his former team?

If there is any Saiko-mania this weekend, FCE coach Colin Miller won’t hear of it.

“I couldn’t care less about Shaun Saiko anymore. We don’t pay his wages anymore. He left our club and it’s history. I have no interest in San Antonio or Shaun Saiko. I’m interested in the guys that are here. This is how I feel. These are our players, the club has moved on, the club is evolving and we’re in a good place. Unfortunately, we’re where we are in the league, but progress is being made.”

FCE hasn’t scored yet this fall season, and has one point from three games. The Scorpions have played four times, and won all of those matches. They are already 11 points ahead of the Eddies in the standings.
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Eddies find baffling new ways to not score in loss to Indy

FC Edmonton's Horace James, centre, skips by Indy's Kleberson, left. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

FC Edmonton’s Horace James, centre, skips by Indy’s Kleberson, left. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

For the second week in a row, FC Edmonton faced a team that had yet to keep a clean sheet in either the NASL spring or fall seasons.

For the second week in a row, the Eddies obliged and gave the opposition its first shutout of the campaign.

Last week, it was Atlanta. On Sunday, on the first game on the pristine Clarke Stadium pitch, it was the Indy Eleven. The Eddies suffered their second 1-0 loss in a row.

And sure, the highlight shows and recaps will show the comedy of errors that led to Kleberson’s injury-time game winner. But, really, Kleberson’s 92nd-minute effort should have been a consolation goal — that’s how badly the Eleven was out chanced by the Eddies. You could argue that the Eddies created as many chances as they did in the spring season finale, when they found the net six times against Carolina.

But, as Eddies coach Colin Miller put it at halftime, the way the Eddies attackers find ways to turn chances in front of goals into shot attempts that didn’t even trouble the keeper is a “physical impossibility.”
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FCE’s Boakai and Jalali to join national U-20 side for the Milk Cup

Dale-Farm-Milk-Cup-logoFC Edmonton teenagers Hanson Boakai and Sadi Jalali will be leaving the team on Wednesday.

Why? So they can join the Canadian U-20 squad for the Milk Cup, a tournament to be held in Northern Ireland from July 27-August 1. Canada will face Mexico, China and the Irish hosts.

And, for Boakai and Jalali, it’s a chance to audition for Canadian squad going into the cycle for the 2015 U-20 World Cup qualification process. For Jalali, who scored his first career NASL goal on a penalty at the end of the spring season, it’s not a surprise to be named to the team. Much of the U-20 squad will be made up of the players who played at the U-17 World Cup in 2012 — and Jalali was a part of that team. A concussion forced him to miss the most recent U-20 national-team camp, but he was always a player you’d have thought would be in the rotation.

But, Boakai was part of the U-17 World Cup team in 2014; so he’s moving up in terms of age group. But, as arguably the best player of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship, and a player who has already earned a trial stint at Fortuna Dusseldorf, his stock may be higher at this moment than any other youth player in this country’s system.

“I’m one of the youngest ones, it will be a new family.”
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FCE raves about new longer and wider pitch at Clarke Stadium

ClarkeTurfFor FC Edmonton’s players, there was cause for celebration, Tuesday.

After two and a half seasons of playing on the rock-hard, football-line filled turf at Clarke Stadium, the Eddies were able to train on the new FieldTurf surface for the first time.

“It’s quite nice,” said assistant coach Jeff Paulus. “It plays as close as we can get to real grass. I think it’s now the best artificial surface in the country. I can’t think of anything better.”

The installation of the $1.2 million, FIFA-approved turf at Clarke Stadium finishes two years worth of lobbying to get a surface that was free of the football lines. The lines can be painted on for junior and high-school football games played at the facility.

The new turf also allowed FC Edmonton the chance to expand the field dimensions — both length and width. The old dimensions saw the goal lines placed on the goal lines of a Canadian football field, 110 yards apart. The new field is now 115 yards long by 75 yards wide.
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Fury’s start to the NASL fall season mirrors that of FC Edmonton

Tom Heinemann: Had three great looks at goal

Tom Heinemann: Had three great looks at goal

The Ottawa Fury welcomed 14,593 fans through the gates of TD Place Sunday, setting a new attendance record for the modern NASL.

The fall-season home opener marked the first time the Fury had the chance to play in the brand-spankin’ new stadium. And, with the most recognizable team in NASL, the New York Cosmos, providing the opposition, it was a formula for a very good gate.

But, as the Fury had reportedly had 13,500 tickets sold a week ago, there wasn’t a huge push for seats in the week leading up to the game. So the question remains, how will TD Place look when the Fury hosts NASL games later in the season? The one danger of playing in large multipurpose stadiums is that even if you get a crowd of 7,000 or 8,000 — which is excellent by modern NASL standards — the stadium looks and feels kinda empty.

Despite the hype created by the day’s attendance number, the Fury finish the second week of the fall season with a ledger that looks a lot like FC Edmonton’s — one point to show for its first two games, and no goals scored.
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