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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