Drillers begin preparations Tuesday for CMISL championship on Saturday

Edmonton Drillers vs. Calgary United FC from 2011.

The Edmonton Drillers are playing to be the internationally recognized Canadian champion of indoor soccer on Saturday.

But it’s not like they will show up to the game as a well-oiled machine. In fact, they are holding their first practice on Tuesday night. They will have one more workout Thursday before heading to Calgary’s Genesis Wellness Saturday, where they will contest the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League final. The winner of that match will be invited to the FIFRA world club championship next season.

This year, both Calgary (the champs) and Edmonton (CMISL runners-up and FIFRA’s second choice) turned down invites, before a team from the University of Sherbrooke volunteered to take the spot — and finished dead last in the field.

The one-game CMISL season and final goes at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Because of the loss of the Winnipeg Alliance — leaving the league with just Edmonton and Calgary for the 2012 season — and the collapse of the bubble over Calgary United FC’s home field, CMISL president Mel Kowalchuk decided to reduce this year’s schedule to one game, a winner-take-all match between the defending champs from Calgary and their Edmonton rivals. He has pledged that the CMISL will be back, better than ever, for the 2012-2013 season, with as many as five teams.

Kowalchuk confirmed that both teams have until noon Thursday to declare their rosters for Saturday’s one-game Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League final.

Chris Devlin, who played with the Drillers last season and was a defender on the USL’s Edmonton Aviators back in 2004, is co-coaching the Drillers’ squad with Kevin Poissant. He said it’s been a challenge to put a team together for the one match.

“We had such short notice, so many of the guys have other commitments. For the guys in university, they have exams, it’s been hard for guys to make the commitments.”

But expect to see a team that’s a mix of some of Edmonton’s top amateur teams — Edmonton Scottish, Green and Gold and Edmonton Croatia. Look for Jay Vetsch to return to play goal for the Drillers, and Marcus Johnstone, who was the team’s deadliest forward last season, to be back. As well, Mike McCormick, another key player from last year’s Drillers’ squad, is expected to play. And Devlin will likely be a player-coach.

Because most of the turf fields have been taken out of the Edmonton and area soccer centres for the season, it’s been a challenge for Devlin and Poissant to find practice space. They did find one facility, out in Leduc (which, for non-Edmontonians, is south of the city, out by the airport) where they can train. So, the Drillers team that is sent to Calgary for the Saturday one-game season and final will take the field with very little preparation time.

RELATED:
CMISL to have one-game season in 2012
Calgary United routs Drillers, takes CMISL title

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.