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Big in Japan: Another FC Edmonton player leaves for JEF United

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FC Edmonton is looking more and more like the farm club of JEF United. On Monday, the club announced that local product Matt Lam will leave on loan to the Japanese second-division side, following former FC Edmonton coach Dwight Lodeweges and Dutch veteran midfielder Sander Van Gessel. Lam will remain in Japan until the conclusion of the Japanese league season.

“Being that the club is a close group, it was hard to say goodbye to everyone,” said the 21-year-old in a release before hopping on a plane. “Although I liked playing at home, I see this as an opportunity to carry my career to the next level.”

Lam’s brother, Sam, is in FC Edmonton’s plans even though he currently retains his amateur status. After steering FCE through its 2010 schedule of friendlies, Lodeweges and assistant Hans Schrijver used an out clause in their contracts to take more lucrative jobs with JEF United. After new coach Harry Sinkgraven, recommended to FCE by Lodeweges, was brought in, Van Gessel used a similar out clause in his deal to follow his coaches to JEF United. Now, Lam will be the first non-Dutch member of the FC Edmonton diaspora to head to Japan. “

When we first started in professional soccer, we decided that by having a high level of coaching and a very professional team atmosphere, we’d give our players the best opportunity to succeed,” said FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath. “We’re really sorry to see Matt go, he’s a great player but it’s so important for us to help players achieve their dreams.”

FC Edmonton’s coaching staff is returning from Florida after attending the weekend’s NASL combine, where 72 players auditioned for the eight clubs. There is no blackout period, so all of those involved in the combine are free agents available to be signed by any of the NASL teams. FC Edmonton has not confirmed the signing of any player, but the league has indicated that several players from the combine have been invited to the training camps of various clubs in the league.

“There is no draft here, which is a little disappointing,” said assistant coach Dave Randall. “We saw three days of decent soccer and also watched Canada U20 v D.C. United this morning. Level of NASL combine was good and there were a few players of interest to us. We have spoken to those players but do not want to release names as of yet.”

Before the combine, Sinkgraven had said he wanted to increase Edmonton’s complement of 19 players to 26 by the kickoff of the regular season against Miami FC on April 9. He now has eight players to find instead of seven.

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