A sign of stability in chaotic times: FC Edmonton extends coach Colin Miller’s contract for three years By Steven Sandor Posted on December 2, 2016 1 0 1,023 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Colin Miller PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON Even though he had one year remaining on his contract, FC Edmonton co-owner Tom Fath chose not wait to lock down head coach Colin Miller. The Eddies announced Friday that Miller has been signed to a multi-year extension. Earlier today, Fath said that the team fully expects to play in NASL in 2017, is hiring staff and has increased its ticket sales. The Miller extension is a further signal that the team has a long-term vision, despite all the articles and rumours stating that the North American Soccer League is in very real trouble. It almost feels like Edmonton exists in a different part of the multiverse than the other NASL teams. While everyone else is at panic stations, FCE is sending out messages of stability. “I’m thrilled to bits,” Miller said. “I am thrilled to bits. Tom and I have a fantastic working relationship.” And, Miller knows the deal is a badly needed sign of stability. “I have never had a conversation with Tom that would even signify that the club was on even a bit of a wobble,” said Miller. “Most of the core is in place for next season.” He said that there will be player signings announced in December, and the announcement of a player in January that he thinks will greatly excite the team’s fan base. As well, the team is already well into planning the 2017 preseason campaign. The plan is for the club to return to the United Kingdom. The team spent part of the 2016 preseason in Scotland, and then enjoyed its best-ever spring season. “The expectation, as it is every year, is to win it,” said Miller. “If I said any different, I wouldn’t justify my three-year contract.” The Eddies were one of the NASL’s four playoff teams in 2016, and enjoyed the best season in team history. The club set a new league record for clean sheets and keeper Matt VanOekel won the Golden Glove for having the best goals-against average in NASL. The team lost at the semifinal stage to the Indy Eleven. FC Edmonton has seen a rise in ticket sales. In fact, despite all of the news surrounding the league, the team sold 100 season tickets on Friday. As well, Miller feels there will be a boost in soccer interest thanks to massive coverage of the MLS Eastern Conference Final between Toronto and Montreal. Miller knows there is a possibility that FC Edmonton and Toronto FC could meet in next year’s Amway Canadian Championship, and yes, he’s already looking at the game tape. “The fact that there was more than 100,000 fans over the two legs was tremendous,” said Miller. “And I can tell you for sure there would be that same kind of interest if the Whitecaps were to get to that stage, too. The support for soccer there is tremendous.” Of course, if Edmonton was to get to play MLS opposition, it would need to beat the Ottawa Fury. Miller said he is disappointed that the Fury have decided to move to USL from NASL — the Canadian Soccer Association is expected to vote on that in a couple of days. But, while the NASL rivalry between Ottawa and Edmonton has been lost, he thinks the league-switch “really stokes the fire” when it comes to the Voyageurs Cup rivalry between the two teams. But, while Miller was excited by the Toronto-Montreal conference final, he is not sure what the new deal between the Canadian Soccer Association and MLS will mean for FC Edmonton. Under the deal, a Canadian player can get domestic status MLS-wide if he signs for an approved academy before the age of 16 and signs his first pro contract with an MLS club or a USL affiliate of an MLS club. Miller said FC Edmonton has received no indication from Canada Soccer if FC Edmonton’s academy will be on the approved list. What he hopes is that a similar policy will be mandated on NASL — so that Canadian players who come up through NASL academies and sign their first pro contracts in the league can also get continent-wide domestic status. “Sometimes, it feels like there are rules for MLS and rules for the rest of the world,” he said.