NASL & USL Archive

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Laing scores directly off corner, adds assist as Eddies beat Ottawa

Lance Laing is mobbed by his FCE teammates after scoring directly off a corner kick.

Lance Laing is mobbed by his FCE teammates after scoring directly off a corner kick.

In the middle of the week, Lance Laing signed a contract extension that will keep him in Eddies blue and white into the 2015 season. And, on Saturday afternoon in the nation’s capital, he once again showed off why he’s become such a valuable part of the team.

In the first 21 minutes of a must-win match against the Ottawa Fury, Laing set up Chad Burt’s opening goal and then scored directly off a corner kick. An assist and a goal, and the Eddies defended the fort for the remainder of the game. The final — 2-0 to FC Edmonton, and it puts the Eddies just one point back of fourth spot in the NASL overall standings.

Carolina, now one point behind the Eddies, faces the Strikers, who are a point ahead of the Eddies in the race for the final playoff spot, later Saturday. The best scenario for FCE is that the Strikers and RailHawks play to a draw. Because of a massive goal-difference advantage, the Eddies will almost certainly take any tiebreakers with Fort Lauderdale or Carolina. If the two rivals draw, the Eddies will be in control of their playoff destiny; that’s because the Eddies face Fort Lauderdale in Florida next week and then host Atlanta on what will likely be a cold November afternoon at Clarke Stadium.

But, for now, the Eddies can be comfortable in the knowledge that they have done their job by putting all of the pressure on their rivals for the playoff spot.

“I am so very proud of the guys,” Miller said after the game. (It was hard to hear him over the phone because of the FCE players who were singing in the dressing room.) “I actually think we could have scored two or three more. We started off the game with a bit of a wobble but then we started to play. I don’t think we allowed them a shot until the 46th minute.
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6

Teenage goalkeeper Kaiswatum promoted from academy to FCE roster

Christian Kaiswatum

Christian Kaiswatum

For the last several weeks, teenage goalkeeper Christian Kaiswatum had to keep a secret.

He knew that he was going to get promoted from the academy to the senior squad, but he just wasn’t quite sure when it would happen. And, he was surprised when the Eddies added him as a professional keeper right before the Oct. 6 NASL roster freeze. But, the deal wasn’t announced publicly, so Kaiswatum had to remain quiet.

Until Thursday, that is. The Eddies publicized the Kaiswatum deal; that the 1997-born keeper joins John Smits, Lance Parker and Tyson Farago in the rotation.

“I was a little surprised (about the deal),” said Kaiswatum. “They told me a couple of weeks in advance but I wasn’t expecting (to sign) so soon. I was expecting it later on.”
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1

Eddies extend Laing, Ameobi; release Milton Blanco

Lance Laing PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Lance Laing PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

If you had to pinpoint the turning point of FC Edmonton’s season, you should go back to the final game of the spring season. As an experiment, coach Colin Miller moved Lance Laing from left back to the left side of midfield.

Since then, Laing has no doubt been Edmonton’s most valuable player, and has entrenched himself as the best left-sided player in NASL. The Jamaican has six goals and five assists, and has tormented opposing fullbacks with his speed.

And Laing is guaranteed to return next season. The Eddies announced Tuesday that it had inked Laing and striker Tomi Ameobi — who both take up international slots on the roster — to contract extensions. Terms of the contracts were not released.

Ameobi scored his fifth goal of the season in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Carolina, which put the Eddies just four points back of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NASL with three games left to go — including what will be a do-or-die showdown two weeks from now in south Florida.
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5

How Leiweke’s successor can deal with TFC’s culture of failure

new-toronto-fc-jersey-2014
“I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again”

— The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

It’s becoming part of the club’s not-so-wonderful lore; that when Toronto FC does have a reason for hope, the dreams will die in New Jersey.

Heck, TFC has been buried in Jersey so often, that Jimmy Hoffa FC might be an appropriate rebrand for the franchise.

In 2009, TFC went to Giants Stadium needing a win to get to the promised land — and gave up five goals to a hapless Red Bulls team. The Red Bulls are a much better team in 2014 than 2009; that still doesn’t mitigate how poor TFC was in the first half of the 3-1 loss to the Red Bulls on Saturday. Now, TFC’s playoff hopes hang by a thread and, psychologically, the fan base has given up on the team.

With Tim Leiweke set to leave his post as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s head, it gives food for thought; what to do now with TFC? What would you do if you were president of the club?
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1

Eddies continue their domination of Carolina with three-goal win

FCE's Tomi Ameobi (centre) gets set to celebrate as the ball slides by Carolina keeper Akira Fitzgerald. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

FCE’s Tomi Ameobi (centre) gets set to celebrate as the ball slides by Carolina keeper Akira Fitzgerald. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

For the last week, FC Edmonton defender Mallan Roberts has been in a competition with Lance Laing. As the team worked on finishing in training, Roberts wanted to show Laing that he could score more goals than him.

Roberts came into Sunday’s game with Carolina with one career goal; he scored his second just five minutes into the match, and it spurred the Eddies to a 3-0 win at Clarke Stadium. The win puts the Eddies just four points behind Fort Lauderdale for fourth spot (and the final post-season spot) in the NASL overall standings.

“I’ve been working on my finishing all week,” said Roberts with a wide smile on his face after the game. “I have to give credit to Lance Laing. He’s always saying that I can’t finish. So, we had a competition in training to see who could finish more. I won in training and I think that I won again today.”

After Neil Hlavaty took a free kick, the ball bounded around in the penalty area and Roberts corralled it. He shook off one Carolina defender, then poked the ball past another defender. He then slotted a shot inside the far post. It was a finish taken with the composure of a veteran striker, not a young centre back.
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5

Will Eddies feast on roasted RailHawk this Thanksgiving weekend?

Lance Laing feasted on the RailHawks the last time the  two teams met in Edmonton. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Lance Laing feasted on the RailHawks the last time the two teams met in Edmonton. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

It feels kinda fitting that, on the Thanksgiving long weekend, the Carolina RailHawks will be visiting Clarke Stadium.

That’s because FC Edmonton has feasted on roasted RailHawk, with a side of potatoes, so far this season. In two previous meetings, the Eddies have got all six available points, and scored a total of, gulp, nine goals. The Eddies scored six on the RailHawks the last time they came to Clarke Stadium.

So, the key on Sunday is to forget all of that. The Eddies certainly won’t be expecting another six-goal eruption against a Carolina team that has made several signings during the fall season that have been designed to make it tougher to play against. This past week, the RailHawks signed former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Alex Martinez.

“We don’t look at past wins or past matches, to be honest,” said Eddies captain Albert Watson. “We’re just taking every match as it comes. Look at the last game against Tampa (a 1-1 draw), we should have won the game. It was a diabolical call by the referee (which gave the Rowdies the equalizer on a penalty kick) and I’ve looked at it again a bunch of times and I still don’t know what he’s called there. That’s the way it’s gone for us this year and we have to get on with it.

“So, we’re not going to look past games. We know Carolina has added strong, strong to their squad over the last six weeks. It seems like they’ve added a player every week. They’re going to be a tough team to play against on Sunday.”
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5

Unkel’s controversial call, Pickens’s great saves deny FCE a win in Tampa

Tampa Bay's Blake Wagner, left, tries to shield the ball from FCE's Eddie Edward.

Tampa Bay’s Blake Wagner, left, tries to shield the ball from FCE’s Eddie Edward.

The Eddies played well enough to leave Tampa with three points and new life in their chase for a post-season spot.

But, a controversial decision from referee Ted Unkel and some very good late stops from Tampa Bay Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens forced FC Edmonton to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Rowdies. Frankly, at this stage of the season, that result doesn’t do much good for either team.

The Eddies entered the second half with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Chad Burt. And, for the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Eddies were able to slow down the game. At halftime, FCE coach Colin Miller said the Eddies weren’t there to entertain the fans in Tampa, they were there to get the job done. And it was so far, so good — the Eddies were able to control the pace of the game down on a choppy surface.

And, then, it all changed with one blow of a whistle. Unkel blew a play dead after a cross went into the FCE area. A few players had gone down in the scrum. The Rowdies players went to complain, as they were sure the foul was being called on them. But Unkel, instead, pointed to the spot, claiming that FCE defender Kareem Moses had impeded the Rowdies’ Keith Savage.

Georgi Hristov buried the penalty kick.

To add insult to injury, Moses had to leave the game shortly after — Miller said he suspects that the fullback has a broken rib; but that’s not confirmed by a medical official. Moses will get X-rays to determine the extent of the injury.
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1

17-year-old Boakai’s call-up highlights Canada’s roster for Colombia friendly

14168703842_40586212e6_kCanadian national-team coach Benito Floro is going to give wunderkind Hanson Boakai the chance to play with the big boys.

Boakai won’t celebrate his 18th birthday till later in October, but he will be joining the Canadian national team for its friendly against Colombia at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena on Oct. 14.

Boakai becomes the first playing member of FC Edmonton to be called up to the senior national side. The call-up comes just days after reports surfaced that the U.S. national team is set to summon Minnesota United’s Miguel Ibarra for its next camp. Ibarra was just named the NASL player of the month for September.

“It’s a compliment to our academy, it’s a compliment to our coaches, it’s compliment to his parents, it’s a compliment to everyone who has helped this young man develop,” said Boakai’s FC Edmonton coach, Colin Miller.

Miller said that Xtreme FC, Boakai’s youth soccer club, deserves massive credit for helping put this teenager on the national soccer map.

Boakai was an integral part of Canada’s squad at the most recent U-17 World Cup; he’s already working ahead of his age group, as he’s in the mix for the current U-20 Canadian squad.
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1

Flying coach: Cancellation forces FC Edmonton to ad lib travel plans to Tampa

fcedmonton-logo_rgb_jpgformatFC Edmonton’s staff and players are over the moon about teenage midfielder Hanson Boakai’s first call-up to the senior Canadian national side. But, soaring to Florida is turning out to be an issue.

The Eddies were all scheduled to leave Friday morning for Chicago and then get a connecting flight to Florida. The Eddies are set to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium.

But, it didn’t go so well. The Eddies found out late Thursday night that the Edmonton-Chicago flight was going to be cancelled. That’s because the incoming flight from Houston on Thursday night, which was supposed to be turned around and used for the Chicago trip the next day, was cancelled because of inclement weather.

So, the Eddies’ staff scrambled late last night to try and find alternate flying arrangements for the team. Most of the team were able to get on one common connecting flight out. Other players are on another route. And the coaches were still in Edmonton late Friday morning, as they will be the last ones to get out.

Ah, the joys of flying coach.
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2

Eddies not sure if unexpected weekend off will hurt or help the Rowdies

Lance Laing  puts the ball past Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens. Two weekends ago, the Eddies beat Tampa, 1-0. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Lance Laing puts the ball past Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens. Two weekends ago, the Eddies beat Tampa, 1-0. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

As FC Edmonton trained Thursday at Clarke Stadium, a winter wind whipped across the field. There were a few snow flurries in the air. The thermometer read 1 C, but the wind made it feel much colder than the freezing mark.

Forward Tomi Ameobi said it was much colder than at any time during the time he played professionally in Iceland.

It won’t be that cold on Saturday, when the Eddies are in Tampa Bay to face the Rowdies, who they defeated at Clarke Stadium just two weeks ago. The stakes are high; the Eddies are six points behind Carolina for the fourth and final post-season spot — based on the overall standings. But Tampa is just one point behind the Eddies, with two games in hand. Fort Lauderdale is one point ahead of the Eddies (in fifth place) with a game in hand.

So, you could argue that the Eddies need to beat Tampa away and then make sure to beat Carolina at Clarke Stadium two weeks from now to remain in the chase.

The game in Tampa will offer an interesting contrast; leading up to a game in Florida, the Eddies have been training in icy Alberta conditions. Meanwhile, the Rowdies had last weekend’s scheduled match against Fort Lauderdale postponed — so they may be rusty (or well-rested, depending on your perspective).
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