Shaun Saiko Archive

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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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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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“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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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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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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