April 27. FC Edmonton vs. Toronto FC. Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
The newest member of FC Edmonton can’t escape the negative feelings associated with his recent trial with Toronto FC.
“I won’t lie. I didn’t like how it went,” said Sidra from FCE’s training camp in Sunrise, Fla. “I won’t say I’m bitter, but I certainly won’t say that I was happy. There was a lack of information that was passed on to me.”
The speedy fullback, who has three senior national-team caps and spent time with German side Energie Cottbus, said he was offered a contract by TFC last October, after a hush-hush trial with the club. That contract would have begun in the 2011 season. But, when Aron Winter took over as the club’s technical director, all promised deals were off the table — including the contract to Dutch midfielder Bas Ent. Sidra, like Ent, had to come to camp as a trialist. Ent and his then-USL club, Dayton Dutch Lions, had earlier stated to The 11 that TFC had promised a three-year contract.
“Right from the first day of camp, it was clear I wasn’t the player they wanted,” said Sidra. “They had different people than the ones who signed me. I was brought in by the previous coaching staff. As it played out, it was never going to work.”
Sidra and Ent have both stated that promises were made. If a contract is promised to a player in October, he won’t look for work in the January transfer window. He’ll show up at camp as promised. Many have criticized Dwayne De Rosario for not wanting to honour a contract he signed with Toronto FC back in 2007. If Sidra’s charges are correct, the shoe would be on the other foot — that the club did not honour contracts it had promised to players. The 11 has contacted Toronto FC asking for its side of the story.
But, Sidra is bullish about his move to his hometown team. He grew up with midfielder Shaun Saiko and goalkeeper Jaswinder Gill, all playing out their teenage years with Edmonton Juventus. He played against striker Chris Lemire, and trained with central defender Paul Hamilton.
Coach Harry Sinkgraven hasn’t yet told Sidra how he expects him to fit into FC Edmonton’s 4-3-3 formation, and he will only have a week to learn with his new teammates ahead of Saturday’s NASL opener in Florida against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
“I had some other plans to go abroad or to play in another Canadian city, but those plans fell through. Instead of going back to Europe, I decided I wanted to play in my hometown, and I am excited about the season.”
And, he’s hopeful that, after almost a full season away from club football, he can perform well enough in the NASL to attract the attention of Canadian national coach Stephen Hart.
“It’s definitely a big goal of mine, to get back with the national team. Whether it happens in a short time or not, in time for the Gold Cup, I don’t know. I just want to play well here.”