Playing their final tuneup match before Saturday’s NASL curtain raiser in Fort Lauderdale, FC Edmonton lost 2-0 on the road to the Minnesota Stars.
But, as a caveat, while it’s Edmonton’s first loss of the preseason, Monday’s matchup in Minnesota marked the first time the Eddies had faced another NASL side in the exhibition campaign.
Simone Bracalello gave the Stars the halftime lead with a volleyed goal, while new signing Kevin Vegenas headed home a late insurance goal.
Of the four men who started in the back of Edmonton’s 4-3-3, none of them were with the club in 2011. Jonathan Joseph-Augustin and Kevin Hatchi started as the centre backs, with Adam West at left back and Fabrice Lassonde on the right side. Paul Hamilton — Edmonton’s top option at centre back — only came in as a sub, but the move made sense. Hamilton, because he was sent off in FCE’s playoff loss in Fort Lauderdale that concluded the team’s 2011 season, will be suspended for the season opener. FC Edmonton confirmed the suspension on Monday.
Forward Kyle Porter limped out of the game at halftime after coming out of a tackle worse for wear. But FC Edmonton officials said after the match that Porter has just a minor bruise and should be ready to train again in a couple of days.
Neither midfielder Shaun Saiko or keeper Michal Misiewicz were with FCE on Monday; both are still in Kansas City after the U-23 Olympic qualifying tournament and will join the Eddies when they arrive in Fort Lauderdale.
With keepers Lance Parker and David Monsalve hurt, and Misiewicz still away from the club, the keeping duties were assumed by John Smits, the goalie who came to Edmonton out of the University of Toronto.
“We didn’t take ownership of our mistakes,” said Smits. “It was a little bit of a team going through the motions. But we know what we need to do to improve, we know what we need to work on, and we will be ready for our first game Saturday.”
Not many FCE followers would have expected Smith to be thrust into the limelight so soon into his young professional career. But, for the first three road games of the season — it will be either him or Misiewicz getting the call. Monsalve is expected to be out four to six weeks and Parker could be ready for the team’s April 22 home opener against Minnesota.
“It’s all about the preparation,” said Smits. “I may not have the experience as the other goalies, but I have been working and preparing for this, and I will be ready.”
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