FCE’s Saiko shows his frustration over benching

Shaun Saiko (in black) wants to be in uniform, not on the bench.

Shaun Saiko practiced with FC Edmonton’s first team Tuesday, but he’s pretty sure that he won’t be in the starting XI when the Eddies host the San Antonio Scorpions Wednesday.

FCE coach Harry Sinkgraven wouldn’t say if his team’s leading scorer (five goals) and assist leader would be reinstated to the starting lineup for the game, adding that he would talk to his players before informing the media of his decision.

But Saiko scrimmaged on the subs’ team on Tuesday.

“No, I am not happy,” said Saiko. “It looks like I am not playing. But, if that’s what the coach wants to do, if he feels that what it takes for this team to win is keeping me on the bench, I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.”

Sinkgraven decided not to start his leading scorer on Saturday, saying that he wanted to look at other players who had shown more in training. Not only did Saiko not start, he wasn’t even at Clarke Stadium. He watched the game on CBC television. The game was supposed to be a coming out party for Edmonton’s soccer hero, a performance on the first game broadcast on the network’s regional feed. It was a stinging rebuke for Saiko, who has been the hometown hero and face of the FC Edmonton franchise, now in its second NASL season.

“I’ve never been in a situation like this in my two years here,” said Saiko. “It was very frustrating to watch the game Saturday, to see the guys working as hard as they did, and we got the draw. At this point in the season (FCE is eight points out of the playoffs with nine games to go) draws are not going to help us very much. It was tough not to be out there and being able to help the team.”

Saiko said he’s never been benched like this, in such a public fashion, at “any time in my career.” Not in Edmonton. Not in Europe.

“It’s a tough situation. I’ve played a lot of positions this season. And in the last few games I have been used as a striker. I don’t think that I am a striker. But, if they want me to play centre back, I will play centre back if I have to. It’s just a frustrating time for me.”

While Sinkgraven hasn’t said whether or not Saiko will come back to the lineup, he will have to make some adjustments in the back line. Paul Hamilton will miss Wednesday’s match after seeing red for a head-to-head challenge with Minnesota’s Geison Moura. He will be back for the weekend match againt Puerto Rico. But expect to see Scottish vet David Proctor, who had an outstanding match at right back for the Eddies on Saturday, be shuffled to the middle to become the man who marshals the back line.

As of Tuesday, the paperwork is not complete for Brazilian strike Julio Cesar da Silva Rodrigues. He practiced with the first team but, as it stands Tuesday, is not eligible to play Wednesday.

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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.