FC Edmonton’s Albert Watson chases Fort Lauderdale’s Dani Sanchez.
PHOTO: Jon van Woerden/FTL Strikers
Let’s think back to the 2013 Gold Cup. Interim Canadian national-team coach Colin Miller was taking a lot of criticism from this country’s soccer supporters. The claims were that Miller’s defensive style was a major reason for Canada’s goalless three-matches-and-out at the CONCACAF Championships. Miller was derided on message boards, Twitter, comment sections.
The constant criticism recreated Miller as a Mythic coach who didn’t want his team to score (if true, it would have made him the first soccer head coach in the history of soccer to not want his team to score goals).
Now, two years later, it’s looking like the cabal of Miller critics owe the man an apology — at least for the criticisms of how he handled the national side. While Canada flounders through another goalless Gold Cup (as Morrissey once sang: Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before), Miller’s FC Edmonton leads the NASL in goals scored. After a 1-1 draw with Fort Lauderdale Saturday, the Eddies have scored 23 times in 12 combined spring- and fall-season matches.
Under Benito Floro at the 2015 Gold Cup, Canada is goalless through two games — and faces a must-win final match against Costa Rica at BMO Field. Jamaica beat Canada 1-0 in Houston on Saturday night, thanks to a last-gasp headed goal from Rodolph Austin.
As Canada was getting shut out (again), the Eddies got a weird own goal in Fort Lauderdale to tie the game with just four minutes left on the clock. Sadi Jalali ripped a shot off the post; keeper Josh Ford dove and missed the initial attempt. The ball came back off the post, hit Ford in the back of the head, and rolled into the goal. For an Eddies team still dealing with what Miller calls the worst injury crisis he’s seen in over 30 years of pro soccer — as well as the absence of six-goal, four-assist left winger Lance Laing, who was on the Jamaican bench in the win over Canada — a draw in Florida is a decent result. And, despite many of the disappointments from the spring season, the Eddies are just four points out of the fourth and final post-season slot in the NASL combined standings. (The Eddies also top the table — thanks to goal difference — in the fall-season standings, but we’re just a couple of weeks in, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)
“I’m extremely proud of everyone who’s traveled, they’ve put in a fantastic effort at a very, very difficult venue,” said Miller. “To go a goal down and to continue to come forward in the game, it speaks volumes about the character. I mean, it’s 92, 93 degrees, humidity, all that stuff. It wouldn’t have been an excuse because I don’t use it as an excuse — but it’s a fact.”
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