Shaun Saiko Archive

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Love or hate the NASL’s 9-game spring-season sked, it made for a heck of an opening weekend

Ritchie Jones: Held back in Edmonton, but was cleared to start — and set up the equalizer in Tampa.

Ritchie Jones: Held back in Edmonton, but was cleared to start — and set up the equalizer in Tampa.

In MLS, a month and a half into a marathon where 10 of the 19 teams make the playoffs, it’s hard to make the argument that any game is really important at this stage. We’re still trying to ascertain the weaknesses and strengths of teams around the league, and no match has a do-or-die feel.

Now, whether you love or hate the NASL’s decision to create a spring season in which each of the 10 teams plays a nine-game schedule — with one of the top two playoff, er, “Championship” seeds going to the league champ — there’s no doubt it brought a sense of immediacy to the opening weekend. After just one week, we can seriously discuss which teams are on their way to being contenders (Minnesota, New York Cosmos) and which teams had disastrous opening weekends that badly damaged their spring seasons (we’re looking at you, San Antonio Scorpions).

As for FC Edmonton and the Ottawa Fury, the stakes weren’t as high because they were both burning road games on the abbreviated schedule. The key to winning the spring season will be making sure to take care of business at home. The Fury is still feeling the bitter sting of losing the season opener 2-0 at Fort Lauderdale; but those who hold optimism for the expansion franchise can point to the fact that five of the eight remaining games on the schedule will be at Carleton University, where the turf and odd lines should provide a significant home-field advantage.

As for the Eddies, a 1-1 result at Tampa — despite hitting a post and failing to convert a penalty in a game that saw them significantly outplay the host Rowdies — isn’t bad at all. FCE was one of five teams that had five road games and just four home dates on their schedules. Now, the Eddies have burned arguably their most difficult road date (FCE doesn’t have to visit the New York Cosmos in the spring) and didn’t allow the Rowdies to get three points out of a home game. Now, the rest of the Eddies’ schedule reads four at home, four away.

With a day to reflect on the draw, coach Colin Miller said that 1-1 was a bittersweet result.
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2

FC Edmonton updates its roster, opens up international roster slots

Lance Parker, foreground, and John Smits at an FCE training session.

Lance Parker, foreground, and John Smits at an FCE training session.

On Monday, FC Edmonton’s brass brought in each of its players for face-to-face end-of-season meetings. And, on Tuesday, the club announced the status of all its players who were under contract at the end of the 2013 season.

Before the meetings, we knew this: Midfielder Chris Nurse had turned down the club’s contract offer and will explore free agency (CLICK HERE). He already said his goodbyes to the club and the supporters. All-time leading scorer Shaun Saiko, after being sent to train with the reserves through the final stretch of the season, is now a free agent. And striker Michael Cox, out since September with an MCL injury, turned down a contract offer and he and his new agent will explore options in Europe.

And, the rest of the squad:

GOALKEEPERS:
Lance Parker: FC Edmonton’s No. 1 and the club continue their contract negotiations.

John Smits: The option on his contract was exercised and he’ll be back in 2014.

Norbert Janas: Brought up from the reserve team midway through the year, the young Canadian keeper won’t be back with the Eddies in 2014. He’s now a free agent.
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2

FCE’s Fordyce named NASL Player of the Week

Albert Watson (5) embraces countryman and teammate Daryl Fordyce after FCE scored the opener against Carolina. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Albert Watson (5) embraces countryman and teammate Daryl Fordyce after FCE scored the opener against Carolina. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Daryl Fordyce has been named the NASL Player of the Week.

FC Edmonton’s Northern Irish striker got both goals in the team’s 2-1 win over Carolina, Sunday. Fordyce nodded home the opener after fellow Northern Irishman Alberta Watson flicked on a long throw from Corey Hertzog.

Fordyce’s second goal was smashed just underneath the crossbar at Clarke Stadium, after right back Edson Edward made a terrific run up the wing and pushed a pass to the top of the box. Fordyce made a clever run to find a dead spot in the box, where there were no Carolina defenders to be found.
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4

Fordyce’s brace gives FCE its second win of the fall season

RailHawk Paul Hamilton, left, challenges FCE's Daryl Fordyce. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

RailHawk Paul Hamilton, left, challenges FCE’s Daryl Fordyce. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

FC Edmonton began the post-Shaun Saiko era with its second win of the fall season.

Daryl Fordyce scored twice, pacing the Eddies to a 2-1 win over the Carolina RailHawks. The big winners out of the weekend? The New York Cosmos. With Carolina’s loss, the gap between the Cosmos and the RailHawks (tied for second place) is now seven points.

With the fall season winner going to the Soccer Bowl and no playoff structure, with four games left the NASL’s final weeks is looking more and more like a lame-duck stretch run.

The RailHawks followed a familiar pattern: Unbeatable at home but strugglers on the road. The Eddies had all of the real first-half chances. Before Fordyce scored the opener, he had a chance to put the Eddies ahead inside the 20-minute mark.

A Lance Laing free kick hit Carolina keeper Akira Fitzgerald in the midsection; the rebound spilled to the middle of the area, where Fordyce had an open net. But a fantastic last-ditch sliding challenge from RailHawk and former Toronto FC defender Julius James disrupted what looked like a gimme.
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21

Saiko’s time with FC Edmonton comes to a close

Shaun Saiko

Shaun Saiko

Shaun Saiko’s time with his hometown FC Edmonton side is coming to an end.

The club’s all-time leading scorer wasn’t at training at Clarke Stadium Friday. And Eddies’ coach Colin Miller confirmed that supporters won’t be seeing Saiko with the team again. Saiko will finish the season training with the youth side, and won’t be brought back next season.

“There were a number of different reasons,” said Miller. “Things didn’t just work out for Shaun here. He won’t be back with us next year and he isn’t going to train with the first team.

“I wish him well, wherever he will be next season.”
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0

Injury outbreak forces FCE coach Miller to take skeleton crew to Atlanta

Lance Laing: Concussed after collision with Massimo Mirabelli

Lance Laing: Concussed after collision with Massimo Mirabelli

At the end of Thursday’s training session, FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller joked that he considered naming me to the squad that will travel to Atlanta this weekend to take on the NASL spring-champion Silverbacks.

That gives you an idea of just how many of the Eddies aren’t available to make the trip. Miller had to make the joke — after all, when you want to cry, you just have to laugh, instead.

Striker Michael Cox is likely done for the season. With concussions, both winger Massimo Mirabelli and left back Lance Laing are off the trip. Centre back Mallan Roberts continues to nurse a heel injury. Midfielders Gagan Dosanjh and Shaun Saiko have both suffered flare-ups of long-term injuries.

“We haven’t hot the bottom, but we do have a lot of injuries to deal with,” said Miller. “It’s really disappointing. They (injured players) will need to rest and we will play with what we have. We will still have a very strong starting 11.”

As for the subs, the bench will feature a lot of kids, and Miller said it’s a chance for them to prove themselves. The tactics will change a bit, but Miller said he was going to tweak the formation ahead of the Atlanta match, anyway. He said he has a plan in place for his subs and is excited to see what the kids bring.

Mirabelli and Laing suffered concussions when they ran into each other in last weekend’s loss to Minnesota. Both had their eyes on a ball in the air and ran smack-dab into each other.
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3

Saiko admits frustration over FC Edmonton’s scoring woes

Shaun Saiko

Shaun Saiko

FC Edmonton is undefeated in five matches (OK, four of them were draws). Six games into the fall season, and the Eddies are in seventh place in the eight-team NASL, but are just three points out of first place.

The team is contending in the fall season. But, for those who have supported the club, seeing Shaun Saiko sitting on the bench is kinda, well, weird. Two seasons ago, the local product scored nine times, added five assists and was named to the league’s Best XI. Last year, seven goals and six assists. This year, just two goals and three assists, and he hasn’t been starting of late.

Saiko hasn’t started a game since Aug. 18. The last couple of weeks, he’s been used as a second-half sub, and coach Colin Miller said he knows that the midfielder brings a little more of an offensive dimension to the team. So, for now, it looks as if super sub is the role for Saiko, with Gagan Dosanjh out on the left, Neil Hlavaty on the right, and Robert Garrett often used behind the forwards.

Part of the reason for Saiko’s reduced minutes has been a bad hip; he had surgery on it six years ago, and the constant wear-and-tear of training on the hard, hard Clarke Stadium turf takes its toll.

But there’s no doubt that he’s frustrated. Not just on a personal level, but also because, despite Edmonton’s massive improvements in midfield and on the defensive line, the team can’t break away and win games because it still struggles to score goals. Its offensive output continues to be the worst in the league.

“It’s not just about myself. I am frustrated, but we’re all frustrated. We’ve got some great players on this team and we aren’t scoring. Take a look at (Northern Irish forward) Daryl Fordyce — what a quality footballer, and he’s finding it difficult to score in this league.”
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4

“Handbags, lipstick and eye shadow:” Eddies and Silverbacks fight at halftime, slug out a 1-1 draw

Atlanta's Richie Menjivar, left, battles FCE's Albert Watson at Clarke Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

Atlanta’s Richie Menjivar, left, battles FCE’s Albert Watson at Clarke Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

It’s official: We can now say that FC Edmonton and the Atlanta Silverbacks have a rivalry. Even though the two cities are on opposite corners of the North American content, the bad blood between the sides were on display as they played to a 1-1 draw Sunday at Clarke Stadium.

FCE’s Chris Nurse equalized off a free kick after a controversial opening goal from Atlanta’s Horace James. Replays showed that the ball struck James’s upper arm, near the shoulder, before he tucked the ball past Eddies’ keeper Lance Parker just after the start of the second half.

But the goals may have been overshadowed by the pushing and shoving that took place after dead ball situations, and the amount of in-your-face trash talking that went on between the sides. At halftime, it got to a boiling points as the two teams squared off just outside the Clarke Stadium dressing rooms. Atlanta coach Brian Haynes and FCE coach Colin Miller broke up the fight.

Miller joked that it was “handbags, lipstick and eyeshadow,” but it was clear the emotions weren’t being kept in check on the field. Maybe the biggest surprise is that no one was sent off, though Eddie Corey Hertzog was stretchered off late in game after being scythed to the turf by Milton Blanco, who saw yellow. Hertzog has a knock on his hip.
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4

Hertzog scores in his debut, as Eddies win fall-season home opener over Scorpions

Corey Hertzog gets a shot off against San Antonio. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Corey Hertzog gets a shot off against San Antonio. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

The new strike partnership of Anthony Adur and Corey Hertzog made its FC Edmonton debut Sunday — and the duo were key in giving the Eddies a 1-0 win over the San Antonio Scorpions in their NASL fall season home opener.

Adur has been with the club — as a signed player — for a week. Hertzog arrived in Edmonton on loan from the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday. But they were dangerous, and both players had parts in the goal that squared the Eddies’ fall season record at 1-1-0, one point behind the NASL deal.

Meanwhile, despite making a bevy of July signings, the Scorpions are now 0-2-0 and sport a league worst -4 goal difference.

“Corey’s been here for three days, I’ve been here for a week, and for us to click like that, it’s great,” said Adur, a former Maccabi Haifa youth player who has also had pro stints in Singapore and Thailand. “I think the two of us are going to become a special story in this league as the season progresses.”
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0

Hlavaty, Roberts key FC Edmonton win that shatters Minnesota’s spring-season hopes

FCE captain Albert Watson, top of the pile, shows his emotion as the team celebrates a goal.

FCE captain Albert Watson, top of the pile, shows his emotion as the team celebrates a goal.

Mallan Roberts scored his first professional goal. Neil Hlavaty was a maestro in midfield against his former club.

For FC Edmonton, a spring season of frustration, a season of missed chances, a season of games that should have been wins turning into draws, was punctuated by a game where everything went right.

The Eddies beat Minnesota United FC 3-1 Sunday at Clarke Stadium, ending any hope for the Flyover Cup rival to have any shot at a spring-season title. The NASL is now down to a three-horse race — Carolina, Atlanta and San Antonio.

Minnesota came into the game knowing it would have to score early and often in order to make up the goal difference and points on league-leading Carolina. Instead, MUFC found itself down 2-0 in short order.
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