FC Edmonton has a new coach in place, just days after Dwight Lodeweges and his assistant, Hans Schrijver, used out clauses in their contracts to take more lucrative positions in the second division of Japanese football.
The team introduced another Dutch boss, Harry Sinkgraven, to the media Monday at a downtown hotel.
“Harry is someone equal or better” to the outgoing staff, said general manager Mel Kowalchuk.
Even though a group of FC Edmonton hopefuls wore the team colours for a 2010 year-long audition, as the team played a bunch of friendlies against the likes of Colo Colo and Portsmouth for Lodeweges and Schrijver to familiarize themselves with the team, Kowalchuk said the club won’t miss a beat even though a new coach is taking over. A group of 14-15 players is still working through winter training session.
FC Edmonton launches its inaugural NASL season in April.
So, the feeling around the club is that Sinkgraven can take over the club and keep the players in the same regime, from style of play to conditioning regimens.
And Joe Petrone, director of soccer operations for FC Edmonton, said the team is still bringing in two prospects per week for tryouts, and that the team is playing close attention to the MLS Re-Entry Draft to see if any out-of-contract players will be available.
And, for FC Edmonton, there was no doubt that the club would go back to the land of the Oranje for the successor.
“The Dutch organization (KNVB) is the best in the world for spreading the word of soccer,” said Kowalchuk. According to the GM, the Dutch provide the best coaches, best systems and best programs for developing soccer nations.
Last week, Sinkgraven was in Indonesia (he had worked with the Olympic team there) when he was contacted by the outgoing coaching staff. It was Lodeweges and Schrijver who recruited Sinkgraven.
“He told me it was a good team, a young team, with excellent players. They want to learn,” said Sinkgraven. “I thought about it for five minutes, and I thought if the possibility is there, I want to be there.”
Sinkgraven was actually coached by Lodeweges at the Dutch club level. He has also spent time coaching in South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago. Sinkgraven has coached in the Dutch Premier and First Divisons. He played for FC Groningen, SC Cambuur and FC Zwolle.
FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath suggested that there are no hard feelings towards the exiting staff.
“We knew they had the opportunity to go way further than Edmonton,” said Fath. “We left that opportunity for them.”