Shaun Saiko Archive

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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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Eddies eliminated from NASL spring-season race; Boakai makes pro debut at 16

Paul Hamilton, left, battles fellow Calgarian Michael Cox at Clarke Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS, FC EDMONTON

Paul Hamilton, left, battles fellow Calgarian Michael Cox at Clarke Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS, FC EDMONTON

The Carolina RailHawks really only had one outstanding scoring chance in Sunday’s match with FC Edmonton; but that was enough to eliminate the Eddies from the NASL spring-season race.

A 1-1 draw eliminated the Eddies from having any chance of finishing atop the NASL standings, with two games left to go in the spring season. And the draw kept the Atlanta Silverbacks in pole position, with the RailHawks a point back.

A late goal from Cesar Elizondo allowed the RailHawks to snatch the point — and the goal also saved Canadian central defender Paul Hamilton some blushes. Hamilton, the NASL Best XI defender who was cut by the Eddies earlier this year and was making his first return to Alberta, was victimized by FCE striker Michael Cox for the game’s opening goal.

“It was a lot harder to come back than I thought,” admitted Hamilton, who had 30 orange-clad family and friends at Clarke Stadium cheering him on. “There was a lot of emotion at the start of the game. I didn’t think I played very well.”
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FCE boasts NASL’s best defensive record; now, about that offence…

Colin Miller

Colin Miller

It’s a case of the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object.

On Saturday, FC Edmonton travels to Atlanta to take on the NASL-leading Atlanta Silverbacks. The Eddies have the tightest defence in the league, the only team in NASL to allow less than a goal per game. Atlanta is tied with Carolina for the league’s top offensive output, averaging almost two goals a game.

Throw the fact the Eddies beat Atlanta 3-0 earlier this year out the window. This is what matters: FCE has four games left to play this spring season, and trails the Silverbacks by four points. The winner of the spring session hosts the Soccer Bowl in November, and will play the fall champion.

“We absolutely can’t afford to drop a single point from now until the end of the first season,” said FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller after the team’s training session on Thursday morning.
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Super saves from stellar Smits allow 10-man FCE to get a point

FCE's Chris Nurse, left, battles Tampa Bay's Rick Hill. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

FCE’s Chris Nurse, left, battles Tampa Bay’s Rick Hill. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

There is no goalkeeping controversy at FC Edmonton.

After John Smits put in a man-of-the-match performance Sunday, allowing 10-man FC Edmonton to escape its home date against the Tampa Bay Rowdies with a 0-0 draw, coach Colin Miller that Lance Parker is in no danger of losing his No. 1 job.

“I thought that Smits did fine, but Lance Parker is still our number one,” Miller said after the match, which leaves Edmonton four points off the first-place Atlanta Silverbacks in the NASL spring-season race.

Smits came in last week after Parker got red carded, and he made a penalty save and a point-blank stop before being beaten on Fort Lauderdale’s second chance from the spot. On Sunday, with Parker suspended, Smits was the game’s highlight reel, with several excellent stops.
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Tired FCE team gets draw in Tampa against NASL champs

Tampa Bay's Keith Savage, in green, battles FCE's Daryl Fordyce.

Tampa Bay’s Keith Savage, in green, battles FCE’s Daryl Fordyce.

FC Edmonton was playing its fifth game in two weeks — and its third over the course of six days. On Wednesday night, the Eddies were in Vancouver. On Saturday night, they were in Florida, three time zones away.

Oh yeah, and they had to face the defending NASL champs, too.

If there was ever going to be a game that was about survival, Saturday night’s match between FC Edmonton and the Tampa Bay Rowdies was going to be it. And a 1-1 result, which brings this brutal stretch of the schedule to an end, is done. Now, the Eddies only play twice over the next three weeks — both at home.

And they’ll deserve the rest. Really, the Eddies could have taken all three points. Daryl Fordyce played his best game so far in NASL — the Northern Irish attacker played a role in Shaun Saiko’s equalizing goal and caused problems for the Rowdies all night long. And he forced keeper Diego Restrepo into an outstanding second-half save, as Fordyce’s 59th-minute shot from the top of the box was labelled for the bottom corner.

“It (how the team responded to going down early) was awesome.” said Saiko. “Most of the guys weren’t here last year, but as one of the players who has been here, we go down 1-0 on the road and it would be easy to think ‘here we go again.’ But, by the second half, we were taking the game to them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whitecaps dispatch 10-man Eddies from ACC; will face Impact in final

Corey Hertzog

Corey Hertzog

In the four times the Whitecaps have beaten in FC Edmonton in Amway Canadian Championship action over the past two years, Wednesday’s win was the most comprehensive.

Oh, there have been more lopsided scorelines than Wednesday’s 2-0 result at BC Place — which, paired with a 3-2 road win in the first leg of the semifinal last week, sets up a Whitecaps/Impact ACC final. But in terms of chances created and the possession gap, the Whitecaps dominated by a huge margin.

Maybe some FC Edmonton supporters will scream injustice, and point to the fact that Corey Hertzog’s opening goal, a 30-yard screamer, came after Eddies’ centre back Adrian LeRoy was sent off for what was ruled a professional foul. Hertzog drew the red-card foul just minutes after coming into the game as a a halftime sub, so the goal rubbed salt in the wound.

“All week, me and the goalie coach have worked on volleys. Tonight was a good one,” said Hertzog after the game.
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FCE expected to make lineup changes ahead of ACC second leg in Vancouver

Whitecap Nigel Reo-Coker, left, challenges his close friend, FCE's Chris Nurse, in the first leg of the ACC semifinal.

Whitecap Nigel Reo-Coker, left, challenges his close friend, FCE’s Chris Nurse, in the first leg of the ACC semifinal.

FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller said he expects to make four changes to his lineup from Sunday’s NASL win over San Antonio to this Wednesday’s Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second leg in Vancouver.

The game at BC Place will be the fourth the Eddies have played in 11 days. And fatigue was clear to see as FCE held on by its fingernails for a 1-0 win Sunday over a San Antonio team that came off a bye week. Shaun Saiko, who scored the penalty-kick decider, was named NASL Player of the Week for his efforts.

We know central defender Carlyle Mitchell has to come out, because he’s ineligible to play against the Whitecaps, because he’s on loan from them. But, as for the other changes, Miller was pretty tight-lipped.

The Eddies go into the match against the Whitecaps trailing 3-2, though FCE deserved better than the scoreline showed. Two of the Whitecaps’ goals were controversial. The opening goal stood even though Vancouver striker Darren Mattocks appeared to be influencing the play from an offside position; the second Caps’ goal came after referee Silviu Petrescu pointed to the spot after Camilo went down rather easily in the FCE box.
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Fortunate FC Edmonton gets Miller his first-ever NASL coaching win

FCE's Daryl Fordyce has the ball, ahead of teammate Neil Hlavaty, centre, and Scorpion Esteban Bayona (right).

FCE’s Daryl Fordyce has the ball, ahead of teammate Neil Hlavaty, centre, and Scorpion Esteban Bayona (right).

Coach Colin Miller got his first NASL win. And he gave a nod to Lady Luck.

Through the first three games of the regular season and Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, Miller has lamented the posts hit by his team and the calls that have gone against them.

In Sunday’s 1-0 home-opener win over the San Antonio Scorpions in front of a crowd of just 1,026 at Clarke Stadium, the Eddies finally saw fortune go their way. The Eddies now have four points from four matches (1-2-1).

The Scorpions had several clear-cut scoring chances in the second half, but couldn’t convert any of them — allowing Shaun Saiko’s late first-half penalty-kick marker to stand as the deciding goal.

“I told the guys before the game that I’d settle for a poorer performance and a win,” Miller said after the game. “And they did that.

“We sure find ways to make it difficult for ourselves; at times it looked like we were trying to commit suicide… But Lady Luck gave us a couple of breaks.”
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Feels like 2012 again: FC Edmonton loses to physical Minnesota side

Shaun Saiko, left, gets a shot off in front of Minnesota's Brian Kallman.

Shaun Saiko, left, gets a shot off in front of Minnesota’s Brian Kallman.

FC Edmonton has a new coach and an almost entirely new starting XI. But Saturday’s 2-0 loss on the Metrodome turf to Minnesota United FC felt a lot like the 2012 season.

The Eddies had a lot of the ball, but created precious few chances, and struggled to find space against a more physical team. The match was played in a constant state of stops and starts, with no real flow. And that favoured Minnesota, which thrives on set pieces and winning 50-50 balls.

Still, coach Colin Miller felt that FCE didn’t deserve the 2-0 scoreline.

“I thought that we were on top for long spells. We were well organized. I feel as sick after this match as I had after our first two matches.”

So similar to last season, Edmonton spurned an early chance — teasing its supporters that more might be coming. And they didn’t come. Yes, Edmonton had lots of possession, but couldn’t unlock the MUFC defence.
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FCE’s Miller after loss to RailHawks: “The better team lost tonight”

FCE's Daryl Fordyce, in white, splits the Carolina defenders.

FCE’s Daryl Fordyce, in white, splits the Carolina defenders.

For the second week in a row, the frame of the goal stood in the way between FC Edmonton and needed goals.

Last week, the Eddies hit the woodwork twice and settled for a 1-1 draw with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in their NASL season opener. On Saturday, it was another two goalposts off of clear scoring chances, and FCE and its supporters can only wonder what could have been, as the Carolina RailHawks opened their renovated new home park with a 2-1 win over the Eddies.

Austin Da Luz scored the opener early in the second half, beating FCE fullback Edson Edward at the post and then bundling home a perfect cross from winger Ty Shipalane, a player who has consistently given the Eddies fits over the past two seasons. Shipalane was able to keep a ball in play and then floated a dangerous cross in from the right side.

Brian Shriver wrapped up the points in the 71st when his perfect 20-yard free kick found the back of the net. Massimo Mirabelli found the net in injury time to get the Eddies back to within a goal.
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