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Red-hot FCE wins again: Laing gets best of Ramirez in battle of NASL MVP candidates

Lance Laing, right, tries to win the ball from Minnesota's Daniel Mendes. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Lance Laing, right, tries to win the ball from Minnesota’s Daniel Mendes. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

On Sunday, the nearly 2,800 fans announced at Clarke Stadium were treated to a battle of likely NASL MVP finalists.

On the Minnesota United side, Christian Ramirez, the runaway league leader in goals scored, with 13. On the FC Edmonton side, Lance Laing, the best left-sided player in NASL, whose form has been the catalyst for the massive turnaround for the Eddies.

And how did their head-to-head battle look? Well, Ramirez missed a sitter. And Laing, sporting a new dyed-orange hairdo, converted a shot from distance with his less-than-preferred right foot. Laing’s effort turned out to be the winning goal in a 2-1 FCE triumph. The Eddies have now won three in a row, and are just three points out of fourth overall in NASL (and a playoff spot). Plus, the Eddies are just five points behind San Antonio in the fall season standings.

The Eddies are the hottest team in NASL.

That’s right. The Eddies are the hottest team in NASL.
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If Eddies want to keep the hot streak going, they’ll need to stop Minnesota’s Christian Ramirez


The past few weeks have been very good to FC Edmonton. The club has at least temporarily put a halt to the what-if-they-could-score talk, bagging 10 goals over the last five games. The Eddies are up to fourth in the NASL fall standings, and have moved to within just four points of a playoff spot in the NASL overall table.

At training on Thursday, reigning NASL player of the week Lance Laing, who scored a goal and had an assist in last Sunday’s 2-1 triumph over Fort Lauderdale, said there’s a noticeable “buzz” around the team. He said that all 18 players coach Colin Miller will name to the squad are dying to play. Laing says he’s never seen this team filled with such confidence.

But, a lot of progress could be undone with a poor result against Minnesota United on Sunday. The Loons won the spring season and have the best overall record in NASL. And, the team also is home to the league’s top striker, Christian Ramirez. He leads NASL with 13 goals. No one else in the league has more than eight goals.

So, stopping Ramirez will be a big assignment for the Eddies on Sunday at Clarke Stadium, especially for veteran defenders Albert Watson and Beto Navarro. Three weeks ago, Minnesota beat FCE 3-2 at home, with Ramirez getting one of the goals on a penalty.

“The young lad is playing very well,” Miller said of Raimrez. “He’s taking every opportunity he’s getting at the moment. He didn’t create a lot of chances against us, but he was Johnny on the spot for a couple of chances. He’s scored a few penalties. I watched him against the Cosmos last week, he took his penalty very well. But he’s a dangerous, big player. He’s at the top of his game. I was reading some reports from the NASL about how he wss thinking about finishing his time in the game and not play anymore. Now he’s arguably the top striker in the league.”
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Laing haunts old team as FCE climbs the standings

Laince Laing, right, tormented the Strikers on Saturday. FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Laince Laing, right, tormented the Strikers on Saturday. FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

All in all, it was a pretty good day at the office for FC Edmonton left winger Lance Laing.

Set up a goal against your former team? Check.

Score a goal against your former team? Check.

Sneak in a smooch with your fiancée after scoring? Check.

Run the opposing fullback into the ground? Check.

Laing was clearly the focus as the Eddies thrilled the home supporters Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The win puts Edmonton just four points back of Carolina in the overall standings; the RailHawks currently hold down the fourth and final playoff spot. The result also vaulted FCE into fourth in the NASL fall standings.
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It’s a six-pointer: NASL post-season race heats up as Strikers face FCE on Sunday

From earlier this season: Fort Lauderdale's Chris Nurse, left, shields the ball from FCE's Neil Hlavaty PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

From earlier this season: Fort Lauderdale’s Chris Nurse, left, shields the ball from FCE’s Neil Hlavaty PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

After several years of frustration, it must be awfully nice for FC Edmonton and its supporters to look forward to a real, legitimate six-pointer.

The Eddies, who have scored eight times over the last four games — three of them on the road — are now just six points behind the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies, who are tied for fourth spot on the NASL combined spring/fall table. That fourth spot represents the final playoff spot in the league.

If the Eddies can beat the Strikers on Sunday, they’ll close the gap between the teams to three points. Meanwhile, the Rowdies play the Carolina RailHawks (who are just four points ahead of the Eddies) on Saturday.

“The guys know what a big game it is already, and we’re trying to take some of the pressure off of them this week in training,” said coach Colin Miller after the team’s training session in Clareview on Thursday. “The guys know the significance of the result. I would settle for a sub-standard performance if we get the three points. At this point of the season, it’s about getting three points. We’re capable of doing it.”
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Eddies get last-gasp win in Carolina, as post-season race gets so much tighter

FCE's Neil Hlavaty, left, takes on Carolina's Zack Schilawski. PHOTO: Rob Kinnan-Carolina Railhawks

FCE’s Neil Hlavaty, left, takes on Carolina’s Zack Schilawski. PHOTO: Rob Kinnan-Carolina Railhawks

Far too often in FC Edmonton’s history, we’ve seen a controversial call go against the Eddies and the team hasn’t been able to get off the deck. Controversial red cards, penalties, goal decisions.

But, on Saturday, the Eddies rewrote the script. After a controversial penalty call against Edson Edward allowed the RailHawks to tie the game 2-2 on a Zack Schilwaki spot kick, the Eddies didn’t accept that things weren’t simply going to go their way. Instead, they pressed the RailHawks late into the game and into stoppage time.

And, in the fourth minute of five added minutes, Eddies’ substitute Horace James earned a penalty kick after he was ruled to have been tripped as he cut across the top of the box. Neil Hlavaty took — and converted — the last-gasp penalty. Keeper Akira Fitzgerald got a hand to it, but Hlavaty’s penalty had too much power behind it.

The final: 3-2 Eddies. And, with that, the Eddies finish their toughest road trip of the season at 1-1-1, with a draw against the Cosmos, a 3-2 loss away to league powerhouse Minnesota United, and win in Carolina.

With the win, the Eddies now pull within six points of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NASL. The Eddies have both home and away games remaining against each of those teams. So, the Eddies can actually say they control their destiny; beat those teams and it’s a horse race for post-season spots.
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Don’t mention the score: FCE doesn’t speak of six-goal outburst against Carolina

FCE's Daryl Fordyce had a field day last time the Eddies met Carolina; but injury will prevent him from making the trip this weekend.

FCE’s Daryl Fordyce had a field day last time the Eddies met Carolina; but injury will prevent him from making the trip this weekend.

It was the final day of the NASL spring season, and FC Edmonton’s offence erupted on a Carolina RailHawks team that had more holes in it than Sharknado’s plot. The Eddies got a 6-1 win; it just might have been the most lopsided triumph in FCE franchise history.

So, when the two teams meet this weekend in North Carolina, are the Eddies looking back to the 6-1 win for inspiration? Absolutely not, says coach Colin Miller. He understands that a 6-1 result is a “freak result in professional football.”

And, on Saturday, the RailHawks will be at home, where they are usually a far different team than the one that travels. You can’t find a more Jekyll-and-Hyde team in NASL than the Carolina RailHawks, when it comes to home and road success. Five of their six wins (combined spring and fall) have come at home. When they are on the golf-green surface in Cary, N.C., there is no comparing them to the team that gets on the airplane.

“We don’t even bring it (the 6-1 game) up,” said Miller. “We have got to be prepared to face a Carolina team that is much better at home, even though recent results have shown they are not invincible at home.”
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Canadian teens Roserie and Arora crack Jacksonville Armada’s developmental roster

Chaim Roserie

Chaim Roserie

The Jacksonville Armada begins play as an NASL expansion team in 2015. But, on Wednesday, the team announced its 25-man developmental roster as it looks ahead to next season — and two Canadian teens are on it.

Seventeen-year-old Uday Arora and 15-year-old Chaim Roserie are the two youngest players on the Armada developmental squad’s roster — and both are from the Toronto area. Most of the players on the Armada’s developmental roster are in their mid-20s, and one is as old as 28.

Roserie hails from Mississauga, and has played for the West Toronto Cobras and Mississauga Falcons. On the roster, the Armada has him listed as a U.S. national, though Roserie has played his entire youth career in Canada and attends St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga. Roserie already has his own official website, which you can access HERE.

Arora has played for the ANB Futbol Academy, based out of King City, Ont. He’s an attacking midfielder.
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Did it go in or not? Minnesota/FCE game hinged on this call

Image1The scene: Midway through the second half of Saturday night’s game between Minnesota United FC and FC Edmonton. The Loons have just taken a 2-1 lead over the Eddies on a goal from Daniel Mendes.

FCE right back Edson Edward goes up the wing, and tries a cross. Minnesota central defender Thiago Calvano tries to chest it down, but makes a mess of it. The ball skips off his chest and towards the Minnesota goal. He and keeper Mitch Hildebrandt scramble for the ball. Hildebrandt reaches out as Thiago gets onto the goal line and boots the ball away.

Minnesota then goes down the field and scores what would stand as the winning goal. Mendes smashes home a feed from Miguel Ibarra, and makes the score 3-1. The Eddies would score on a Neil Hlavaty 78th-minute penalty after Hildebrandt was sent off for taking down striker Frank Jonke in the box. But, despite a late effort from Chad Burt that goes off the crossbar, it’s as close as the Eddies will come. A 3-2 loss.

But, rewind to the match-altering moment. Was the Calvano near-own-goal actually an own goal that was missed by the linesmen? Still shots taken from the feed look to show the ball crossing the line. We can argue if it’s conclusive or not.
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FCE survives penalty kick, red card: Earns draw with Cosmos

FC Edmonton's Albert Watson, foreground, keeps the ball from New York's Hans Denissen.

FC Edmonton’s Albert Watson, foreground, keeps the ball from New York’s Hans Denissen.

When he finally decided to hang up his cleats, Marcos Senna will look back on a career filled with international glory in a Spain shirt, La Liga greatness in his time with Villarreal, and an NASL championship with the New York Cosmos.

What he won’t want to remember is his botched penalty-kick attempt against FC Edmonton Wednesday night.

After FCE keeper John Smits was called for bringing down New York’s Jemal Johnson, Senna stepped to the penalty spot early in the second half and, after a stutter-step, blasted a penalty kick sky high into the Long Island night.

And, FCE would go on to survive some late Cosmos pressure and controversial officiating to get a 0-0 draw on the road, bringing the Eddies to five points in five games in the NASL fall season.
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Numbers game: San Antonio terminates the contract of Canadian Shaun Saiko

Shaun Saiko

Shaun Saiko

Maybe if Canadians were treated as domestics on both sides of the border, it would not have come to this.

But, to make room for Costa Rican international Cesar Elizondo, Canadian midfielder Shaun Saiko was released from his contract by the San Antonio Scorpions on Tuesday.

Saiko has suffered through an injury-plagued season. He had to have surgery to deal with a double hernia. Since returning to active duty, he’s been used exclusively off the bench by coach Alen Marcina. He made just six appearances this season, with one goal.

“We wish Shaun all the best as he has been a consummate professional on and off the field for the Scorpions,” Scorpions General Manager Howard Cornfield was quoted in a release from the club.
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