FC Edmonton is hanging back in Fort Lauderdale, the site of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Strikers, so it can prepare for Wednesday’s match in San Antonio, which is expected to kick off in temperatures well over 30 C.
Combine the heat with an, ahem, interesting travel schedule and the worst injury crisis in FC Edmonton history, and you have a series of headaches for FCE coach Colin Miller.
“Explain this to me,” said Miller. “We play in Fort Lauderdale Saturday, and tomorrow we’ll be flying through Tampa on the way to San Antonio. Then, we’re back in Tampa on Saturday. How does that make sense? Only in this league does this happen, I guess. I’m not sure about the stadium availability, but how does this happen?”
With FC Edmonton already the hands-down winner when it comes to NASL travel miles — and so many teams concentrated in the southeast — Miller doesn’t understand how the league can send the Eddies on a three-game road trip that takes them from Florida, out to Texas and then back to Florida. It would make more sense to schedule the Eddies on a proper road trip, where they’d play the Florida road dates in a row. That would not only help the team remain fresh, it would certainly help the pocketbook of the owner. For FCE, this will become more critical in the future, when franchises in Miami and Puerto Rico are added. NASL will need to start thinking about grouping the road games in the southeast so teams like the Eddies, Ottawa or Minnesota United aren’t punished.
When Miller worked with his team on Monday, only 13 players were available. Thanks to Gold Cup, the Pan Am Games and injuries, the lineup has been decimated.
The Eddies have just 15 players on the trip —including two goalkeepers — and used emergency signing Bruno Zebie as a sub in Saturday’s 1-1 draw. As well, the recently signed Pablo Cruz isn’t yet fit for full matches.
“We won’t have anybody arriving from Edmonton ahead of the San Antonio game,” said Miller. “We might get two players ahead of the Tampa game, but since they’re just coming back, we might only be able to use those players for 20 to 25 minutes.”
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