NASL Archive

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Crossbar ensures that Eddies have to settle for draw with Cosmos

Tomi Ameobi gets the shot through the hands of Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer for the equalizer. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Tomi Ameobi gets the shot through the hands of Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer for the equalizer. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Once again, the woodwork loomed large in an FC Edmonton match.

The Eddies had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the New York Cosmos on a blustery, cool fall Sunday afternoon at Clarke Stadium. But, thanks to two efforts that crashed off the crossbar behind Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer, the Eddies can wonder what could have been.

The Eddies played the second half with a gusting wind at their backs, and it played havoc with the game. And, with the score level at 1-1 late in the second half, the Eddies had two wind-assisted efforts go off the bar.

First, a cross from fullback Kareem Moses sailed in the wind and Maurer could only watch, flat-footed, as the ball came back off the bar.

Later in the half, winger Lance Laing, understanding that the wind would cause his shot to swerve, drilled one in from the left wing. It took a wicked hook towards goal, and Maurer leapt to get his fingertips to it and direct it off the bar.
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PLASTIC PITCH 3 is available now! “The Walking Reds” on the cover!

PPFALL2014COVERThe third issue of PLASTIC PITCH, our national soccer magazine, is out as of right now.

How to get PLASTIC PITCH? If you’re a subscriber, just update the Plastic Pitch app in your Android or IOS device. If not, you can get the App and magazine through iTunes, Apple Newsstand, Google Play and Amazon.

Halloween is coming up, so we decided on a Halloween cover. “The Walking Reds” cover combines soccer and zombies. Why? Because soccer and zombies were meant to be together. And it looks cool.

What will you find inside?
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6

FC Edmonton expands Academy, adds U-16 program

Jeff Paulus

Jeff Paulus

According to owner Tom Fath, FC Edmonton won’t break even until Clarke Stadium is expanded and the team is drawing an average of 8,500 fans a game.

Since an expansion of the stadium isn’t in the cards yet — and the team has broken the 4,000-ticket mark just twice this season — the fact that the NASL club continues to grow is a testament to the Fath family’s commitment to the game in Canada.

On Wednesday, the club announced it is expanding its Academy program. It is adding a program for U-16s. So, next season the team will have both a U-18 wing and a U-16 section to develop local soccer talent.

“The addition of a U-16 program is another positive step in the growth of the FCE Academy,” said assistant coach and FCE Academy supervisor Jeff Paulus in a release issued by the club. “Not only is this positive step froward for the future goals of FC Edmonton, but it also cements FCE as an important member of the Canadian Soccer Associations player development pathway.”
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6

NASL Commissioner Peterson: Canadian expansion talks in next 60-90 days

Bill Peterson

Bill Peterson

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson was in Edmonton for Sunday’s game between the Eddies and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He was on hand to thank Edmonton City Council for approving the new $1.25-million permanent-football-line free turf that was installed at Clarke Stadium in July.

Of course, when he met with the press, the subject of expansion and a rumoured NASL Canada league came up.

And he said some expansion conversations are heating up.

“We have had discussion in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and over the next 60 to 90 days we expect to have more discussions in Canada,” said Peterson.
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8

Laing’s moment of magic the difference as FCE edges Tampa Bay

Kareem Moses, right,  clears a ball away from the path of Tampa Bay's Willie Hunt. FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Kareem Moses, right, clears a ball away from the path of Tampa Bay’s Willie Hunt. FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

During the first half of Sunday’s match between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium, NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson came into the broadcast booth and compared the two teams to heavyweight fighters. They were pushing each other, feeling each other out, looking for weaknesses.

And, like many heavyweight bouts, one punch changed the fortune of the fight. And it was a left hook from Lance Laing that sent the Rowdies to the mat. (OK, it was a left-footed shot, and it sorta hooked as it went into the net… but I’m trying to work an analogy here. Sue me.)

Laing’s second-half goal was the difference as the Eddies beat the Rowdies 1-0 in front of an announced crowd of 4,392 at Clarke Stadium.

It came off a goal kick that Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens struck into a stiff 30 km/h wind. Laing won the ball on the Rowdies’ side of half, and played it to teammate Neil Hlavaty. Laing continued his run, Hlavaty spotted it, and then lofted a ball behind the Tampa Bay backline. Laing beat defender JP Rodrigues to the ball then unleashed a left-footed drive the Pickens couldn’t stop.
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Eddies expect season-best crowd for this weekend’s Tampa Bay tilt

Eddie Edward is seen in action from a game against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Eddie Edward is seen in action from a game against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Tickets are 97 per cent sold for Sunday’s match. FC Edmonton’s front office reports that there are just “100 to 150” tickets left for sale. And, for the first time this season, ESPN3 will simulcast a broadcast from FC Edmonton’s crew.

FC Edmonton will be on its biggest stage of the season (at least when it comes to a home game) this Sunday when it hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies. And, coming into the weekend, it is just four points out of fourth place in the NASL overall table. Securing a fourth-place spot would mean a berth in The Championship — the league’s official brand for something most of us refer to as “playoffs.”

The Eddies have seven games left to make up that four-point gap. Four of those games — including three of the next four — are at Clarke Stadium. And, one major advantage the Eddies have over the field is that they are done with the league’s top two teams — Minnesota United and the San Antonio Scorpions — on the schedule.

But, not so fast. Coach Colin Miller said the one thing that the NASL has proven this year is that it has been wildly unpredictable. For example, last week, Tampa Bay hosted Ottawa, and lost. It was just Ottawa’s second win of the fall season. In the fall season standings, third through ninth is separated by, ahem, a whopping five points.

“The league has been just tremendous this season,” said Miller. “You can’t look at any game and say that is a sure three pointer.”
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3

Breaking down Michael Bradley’s comments, by the numbers: Do Canadian refs really favour American teams?

Dave Gantar: Even though he got the call wrong, is he owed an apology?

Dave Gantar: Even though he got the call wrong, is he owed an apology?

Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley crossed a line on Saturday night.

After Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Chicago, which saw Edmonton-based referee Dave Gantar rule out what would have been Gilberto’s winning goal for a phantom push on a Chicago defender, Bradley vented his frustration. And it was captured on the TFC’s official video feed (CLICK HERE).

“They continue to assign Canadian referees whenever an American team is playing against an Canadian team… they are going to go make a conscious effort to show that they are not being biased one way or another. It’s not the first time we’ve had this guy this year. What can I say? He’s just not good enough?”

A player moaning about officials is nothing new. But it wasn’t that Bradley was simply calling out Gantar for missing a call. He was suggesting that there was a motive behind the call. He suggested that Canadian referees are making “conscious efforts” to call their games a certain way.

It’s one thing to challenge a referee’s eyes or even a referee’s judgement. But the second you challenge the official’s character, you need to back that up.

Did Gantar make the wrong call on Glberto? Yes. Even the opposing coach, Frank Yallop, allowed that his Fire side was fortunate.

“It didn’t look like it was a foul, or whatever the ref called. We got lucky on that one,” Yallop said after the game.

But, let’s make this clear. There’s a big difference between a blown call and a blown call because of bias. And Bradley suggested the latter.
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1

FCE coach Miller looks at Indy draw as point gained, not two points dropped

FCE's Milton Blanco, left, battles for the ball with Indy's Mike Ambersley.

FCE’s Milton Blanco, left, battles for the ball with Indy’s Mike Ambersley.

Thanks to injuries and suspensions, Neil Hlavaty regained his spot in FC Edmonton’s starting 11.

And, his spectacular free-kick goal allowed the Eddies to draw the Indy Eleven 1-1 Saturday night in Indianapolis. Hlavaty also came oh so close to scoring what would have been a match winner in the second half with another free kick. But, Indy keeper Kristian Nicht dove to make a fingertip save.

“It’s not just the free kicks, I thought Neil played his best game of the season for us tonight,” FCE coach Colin Miller said after the match. “And it’s not a fluke, he practices those free kicks every day.”

Hlavaty’s free kicks weren’t the only bright spots for the Eddies; so was the play of the makeshift back four. With right back Eddie Edward suspended, youngster Mallan Roberts got his first start at centre back since the spring season, while centre back Beto Navarro moved to Edward’s spot on the right. Kareem Moses (left back) and Albert Watson (centre back) held their regular spots.
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FCE’s Blanco hoping injuries are behind him, looks for strong performance in Indy

New York's Marcos Senna watches as FCE's Milton Blanco gets a foot to the ball in action from earlier in 2014. PHOTO FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

New York’s Marcos Senna watches as FCE’s Milton Blanco gets a foot to the ball in action from earlier in 2014. PHOTO FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Milton Blanco feels guilty. He came to FC Edmonton with high expectations for the team and for himself. He knew that FCE owner Tom Fath has a reputation for treating the players well, and Blanco wanted to repay that faith with a standout season.

But, after being a cornerstone of the Atlanta Silverbacks lineup last season, injuries have prevented Blanco from becoming an everyday Eddie. A broken hand robbed Blanco of the majority of the spring season. Then, after a bright start to the fall season, Blanco hurt his knee in an early August game against the New York Cosmos. And, for another month, Blanco was on the shelf, wearing the red shirt in training.

“I feel bad,” says Blanco. “I feel like I have not contributed as much as I wanted to. I feel bad because of all the faith Tom Fath and the coaching staff here put in me when they brought me here. Unfortunately, I broke my hand and, then after I got the chance to play again, then it was my knee.”

But Blanco will be back in the lineup this weekend, as he’s been cleared to travel to Indianapolis with the Eddies for this Saturday night’s match against the Eleven. He’ll be needed; because of red cards issued in last week’s 3-0 loss to the San Antonio Scorpions, holding midfielder Cristian Raudales and right back Edson Edward are suspended. And coach Colin Miller is waiting on the status of two players who might not make the trip — but he wouldn’t publicly say which players are questionable for the game.
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6

Seeing red in San Antonio: FCE coach Miller says lack of oversight on NASL referees is “laughable”

Sorin Stoica: Has now handed out 10 red cards in nine pro games officiated this season.

Sorin Stoica: Has now handed out 10 red cards in nine pro games officiated this season.

The San Antonio Scorpions finished Saturday night’s match against FC Edmonton with three more goals on the scoreboard and two more men on the field.

San Antonio led 1-0 on a first-half strike from Rafa Castillo that kissed the post and went in. And then the rain of cards came. Sorin Stoica sent off FCE fullback Eddie Edward in the 65th minute. Eddies’ midfielder Cristian Raudales got his marching orders in the 69th minute. Losing two players made it impossible for the Eddies to fight back and equalize — and eventually an exhausted, shorthanded side gave up two more goals, one of them a very controversial one.

Final score, 3-0. But, really, for the Eddies, this is one that you just throw away and not try to analyze too much, outside of the fact that Raudales and Edward are facing suspensions.

Edward was sent off after Stoica ruled that he pulled back forward Billy Forbes and denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity. But Scorpions striker Tomasz Zahorski had the ensuing penalty attempt denied by keeper Lance Parker.

But, before the Eddies could build any momentum off of their keeper’s outstanding diving penalty stop, another red card was flashed. After Raudales knocked over Cesar Elizondo, Stoica took his time to think about it as both players were on the grass. He then decided to show the red to Raudales.

According to stats from PRO, the organization that assigns refs to professional matches in the United States, Stoica has handed out eight red cards in eight matches officiated this season (going into the San Antonio/FCE match). He leads PRO in red cards handed out this season. After Saturday, it’s now 10 reds in nine games, an average of over one per match.

Only one other ref in PRO averages more than 0.5 reds per game, Edvin Jurisevic, at 0.6 per game. So Stoica leads the red-card derby by a country mile.
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