NASL & USL Archive

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Afternoon delight: Day games, Colin Miller’s pitch, sell Matt Van Oekel on move to FC Edmonton

Matt Van Oekel

Matt Van Oekel

FC Edmonton keeper John Smits won the NASL Golden Glove award by posting a league-best 0.90 goals against average. He finished just slightly ahead of Minnesota United’s Matt Van Oekel, who came in with a 0.95 GAA for the league’s best team over the course of the combined spring and fall seasons.

Now, the two are teammates. On Thursday, the Eddies announced the acquisition of Van Oekel.

“I am looking forward to working with John,” Van Oekel said Thursday. “John is an excellent goalkeeper. I know that there are some things that I can learn from him, and I think there are some things that he can learn from me.”

The Eddies also have Canadian keepers Tyson Farago, who earned a team-of-the-week nomination when he made his lone start in the final week of the season. Christian Kaiswatum, promoted from the academy ranks in 2014, is the fourth keeper.

With Smits and Van Oekel in the fold, FCE has clearly put itself way ahead of the NASL pack when it comes to goalkeeping depth. This is one department where Edmonton ranks at the top of the league.

“He is arguably the best goalkeeper in the North American Soccer League (NASL),” FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller said in a release. “This is also a great signing for John Smits, Tyson Farago and Christian Kaiswatum — they will be able to work with someone who is experienced and knows the league very well. The competition for places also really heats up with his addition. I’m very excited about Matt’s decision to come to Edmonton.”
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It’s official: Calgary Foothills will play in PDL in 2015

The club, which will hold tryouts in early January, will play in the PDL’s Northwest Division. The division features teams from along the Pacific Coast in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — so the Calgary team will face some significant road trips, as will their rivals when they have to head east across the Rockies.

The PDL has confirmed that Calgary Foothills will join the league for the 2015 season.

The club, which will hold tryouts in early January, will play in the PDL’s Northwest Division. The division features teams from along the Pacific Coast in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — so the Calgary team will face some significant road trips, as will their rivals when they have to head east across the Rockies — and into the Mountain time zone.

The Vancouver Whitecaps won’t field a team in PDL this year, as it will focus on the new USL-PRO team that will play out of the University of British Columbia. But we can hope that a rivalry develops between Foothills and the Victoria Highlanders.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our club and the soccer community of Calgary to see high-profile soccer return to this great sporting city,” Calgary Foothills FC Technical Director and Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said in a release issued by the PDL. “Since being a part of USL in the early 2000s, it has always been a personal goal of mine to return to USL with another team from Calgary.
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Fury pulls the plug on its W-League program

In late July of 2012, after scoring late in regulation time to tie the championship game, the Ottawa Fury women’s side won the W-League title in the shootout.

Two years later, and the Fury’s W-League team is no more.

In a briefly worded statement, the Fury announced that it will no longer be fielding a team in the W-League.

“The Fury has been an elite W-League team for more than a decade and we are very proud of the incredible on-field success of our players and our teams,” said Fury FC President (and USL hall of famer) John Pugh in the release. “We thank the fans for their support and hope they enjoy watching the many players with Fury connections that will play in this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

The team said that cutting the women’s team was a “business decision”

Since 2000, the Fury have won the second-most games in the W-League and are perennially a contender to go the league’s final four. Coach Dominic Oliveri has done a wonderful job in creating what was arguably the best women’s soccer program in North America outside of NWSL.

The Fury has been home to many women’s national-team players, such as Marie-Eve Nault, Kelly Parker, Christina Julien, Diana Matheson and Rhian Wilkinson.

In 2014, notable Canadians Kadeisha Buchanan, Bryanna McCarthy, Christabel Oduro and Shelina Zadorsky spent time with the Fury.

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State of the MLS roundtable: Since there’s no movement on roster equality, now is the time for Canada to get tough

Well, at Tuesday’s roundtable, Garber confirmed that there isn’t going to be a new approach. When pressed by Leduc, Garber retreated back to the argument that U.S. labour law prevents Canadians from being domestics on American soil. He said a Canadians can’t be treated any differently than a Mexican, a Honduran or a Brit. So, Garber made it clear that the status quo will remain — and that roster equality will not become reality in MLS.

Don Garber began his roundtable with a group of five selected journalists with an overture intended for Canadian ears. He said that if Canada doesn’t qualify for a World Cup in his time as MLS commissioner, “It will be a mark I truly regret.”

He said he wanted to work with the Canadian Soccer Association, and that the United States, Canada and Mexico together could be soccer powerhouse.

The feel-good vibes lasted until it was time for RDS’s Patrick Leduc to ask his question. He asked the commissioner about the league’s stance on roster rules as they pertained to Canadians. In MLS, Canadians are recognized as domestics on Canadian teams, but as imports on American teams. But Americans are domestics in both countries. In July, Garber said “We are working on a new approach to our international player rules as they relate to Canada. Stay tuned.”

Well, at Tuesday’s roundtable, Garber confirmed that there isn’t going to be a new approach. When pressed by Leduc, Garber retreated back to the argument that U.S. labour law prevents Canadians from being domestics on American soil. He said a Canadians can’t be treated any differently than a Mexican, a Honduran or a Brit. So, Garber made it clear that the status quo will remain — and that roster equality will not become reality in MLS.
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Marcina’s Soccer Bowl win caps off a great season for Canadians in NASL

Now, Marcina can add “Soccer Bowl” to his coaching résumé. Two superb goals — a bicycle kick from Rafa Castillo and a great run and finish by Billy Forbes — gave the Scorpions a 2-1 win Saturday night in the NASL Championship game.

In the midst of the 2013 season, Surrey, B.C. native Alen Marcina was asked to take over the San Antonio Scorpions on an interim basis. The team was in the NASL basement at the time. But, Marcina did well enough with what he had to convince the Scorpions brass that he deserved to have the interim tag removed.

Now, Marcina can add “Soccer Bowl” to his coaching résumé. Two superb goals — a bicycle kick from Rafa Castillo and a great run and finish by Billy Forbes — gave the Scorpions a 2-1 win Saturday night in the NASL Championship game.

It caps off what has to be termed as a very good year for Canadians in the NASL.

Of the 10 NASL teams, three were coached by Canadians. One won a title. Another, Colin Miller, received a three-year extension from his club, FC Edmonton. A Canadian, John Smits, won the Golden Glove award, which goes to the keeper with the lowest goals-against average in the league — with enough minutes played to qualify. A Canadian team, the Ottawa Fury, set a modern-day NASL attendance record in its TD Place opener. FCE’s Hanson Boakai got an invite to a senior national-team — at the age of 17.
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Gloves of gold: NASL confirms FC Edmonton’s Smits as winner of top keeper honour

By finishing the NASL season with the lowest goals against average of any keeper in the league with enough minutes played to qualify, the University of Toronto grad has been awarded the league’s Golden Gloves award.

John Smits isn’t just the best Canadian keeper in NASL. He can now lay claim to the title of best keeper in the league. Period.

By finishing the NASL season with the lowest goals against average of any keeper in the league with enough minutes played to qualify, the University of Toronto grad has been awarded the league’s Golden Glove award. The league announced the award on Thursday.

Smits arrived in San Antonio on Thursday. At halftime of Saturday’s Soccer Bowl — where Canadian coach Alen Marcina hopes to lead his Scorpions to their first NASL title — Smits will be honoured alongside league-leading scorer Christian Ramirez.

Smits finished the season with a 0.90 GAA. Smits, who had been the understudy to former MLS keeper Lance Parker over the past two seasons, got the lion’s share of the time in goal for FC Edmonton in 2014. A series of finger and shoulder injuries kept Parker out of the goal — and Smits took the opportunity and proved that he was capable to not only be the Eddies’ full-time No. 1 keeper, but one of the elite keepers in the league.

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Eddies sign El Salvadoran midfielder Tomas Granitto

“We’re very excited that Tomas has shown interest in us and that we’ve come to an agreement,” said FC Edmonton head coach Colin Miller in a release issued by the club. “We’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen from him. Tomas is a terrific passer of the ball and I think he’s a player that will keep us in possession of the ball in the upcoming season.”

FC Edmonton has reached an agreement to bring El Salvadoran midfielder Tomas Granitto to the club.

The Eddies made the announcement Wednesday.

“We’re very excited that Tomas has shown interest in us and that we’ve come to an agreement,” said FC Edmonton head coach Colin Miller in a release issued by the club. “We’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen from him. Tomas is a terrific passer of the ball and I think he’s a player that will keep us in possession of the ball in the upcoming season.”
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FCE parts ways with six players, including Hlavaty, Parker and James

FC Edmonton's Horace James, centre, skips by Indy's Kleberson, left. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

FC Edmonton’s Horace James, centre, skips by Indy’s Kleberson, left. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

FC Edmonton has parted ways with six players — including NASL veterans Lance Parker, Neil Hlavaty and Horace James.

The team also released Canadians Massimo Mirabelli and Edem Mortotsi, and former Chicago Fire midfielder Mike Banner, who missed almost all of the season with a knee injury.

Coach Colin Miller said it was an amicable parting of the ways.

“All of these lads have been fantastic professionals, and their attitude, work rate and effort has been fantastic while at FC Edmonton,” Miller said in a release.
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NASL feels the wrath of Cann

CannscarfAdrian Cann may be known for a lot of things: But the Canadian centre back was never known for his scoring touch.

Until this week. For scoring the 93rd-minute game winner against the New York Cosmos that allowed his San Antonio Scorpions to clinch the fall-season title, Cann was named the NASL player of the week.

The Scorpions, coached by Canadian Alen Marcina, will go into the NASL post-season as the No. 2 seed and will host the Cosmos this coming weekend.

Cann and Marcina are former Vancouver Whitecaps teammates. Cann was released by Toronto FC in 2012 and, despite getting offers from San Antonio and the Chicago Fire in 2013, he decided to take a year off. But, after the 2013 season, Cann found out that San Antonio was still interested in bringing him on board, and he accepted Marcina’s challenge.
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Farago gets first NASL win in Eddies’ season finale

Tomi Ameobi scores the first goal of the game for the Eddies: PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Tomi Ameobi scores the first goal of the game for the Eddies: PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Weeks ago, the Eddies coaching staff had discussed the scenarios: If the Eddies were out of the chase for the post-season in the final week of the NASL campaign, Tyson Farago would get his professional debut.

And Farago got the win between the sticks as the Eddies got a 2-1 victory — a triumph that gave the supporters at Clarke a nice send-off, but also added to the “what could have been” dialogue in the wake of last week’s loss to Fort Lauderdale on a late, self-inflicted goal.

Farago deserved a ton of credit for getting the Eddies the three points they needed to finish third in the NASL fall season table. After the Silverbacks cut the lead to one, Farago made a fantastic leap to parry Pablo Cruz’s dipping shot over the bar. And he came out of the goal to block an effort from Ryan Roushandel, who found himself alone at the far post.

Farago also got some help from Nonni, the scorer of the Eddies’ second goal. Roushandel looked to have sent the tying marker goalward, but Nonni headed it off the line and out to help preserve the win.
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