Eddies announce signings, departures; team has already signed replacement for Eckersley By Steven Sandor Posted on January 23, 2017 2 0 724 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Ottawa's Carl Haworth is tackled by FCE's Adam Eckersley. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/STEVE KINGSMAN The Eddies confirmed several arrivals and departures, Monday. The Eddies announced the forward Tomi Ameobi, midfielders Ben Fisk and Pedro Galvao, and keeper Tyson Farago will all be back with the team in 2017. They join Canadian midfielder Nik Ledgerwood, whose return was announced late in 2016. Coach Colin Miller said Monday that the team has also signed three new additions, but the club is waiting on NASL approval of the contracts before announcing the moves. “There’s no doubt we’ve had to make some changes, as we haven’t been able to hold on to some players for financial reasons,” said Miller. “We have some players on expiring contracts. But, I am excited by some of the players we will be bringing in.” Fisk earned his first Canadian senior national-team cap in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Bermuda and will be expected to be a major spark plug for the Eddies in 2017. For Farago, with the departure of 2016 Golden Glove winner Matt VanOekel to MLS’s Real Salt Lake, there is an opportunity for the Canadian to move from the back-up role to the starting job. Ameobi scored just twice last year, and the Eddies will need a bounce-back season from the forward, especially now that forward Daryl Fordyce’s departure for USL’s FC Cincinnati has been confirmed. Miller said that in 2015, Ameobi had a run in the spring where “he was arguably the best striker in the league,” but then had the rest of the season derailed by a nagging toe injury. In 2016, things just didn’t go Ameobi’s way, but Miller said the club feels the forward will have a “bounce-back season” in 2017. “Tomi would be the first one to admit that it was a disappointing season for him,” said Miller. “He’s a not a bad footballer by any stretch of the imagination, the ball just didn’t seem to bounce for him last year. Not to put too much pressure on the big fella, but we’d expect him to get back to that level where he’s right at the next level of football.” Galvao will offer a left-sided presence; the Portuguese/American midfielder/defender showed some bright spots in his play when he came on as a sub in fall-season games. As he has a U.S. passport, he doesn’t take up an international slot. Farago will compete with Canadian Nathan Ingham and a third goalie for the starting job. Miller said he feels for Farago; because of the club’s distance from any other pro club in North America, there are few opportunities for the reserves to play competitive games. “Tyson became a victim of where we are in the world,” said Miller. “He basically became a training ground keeper (behind Matt VanOekel).” And, because of that, when VanOekel was rested late in the season, Farago showed some rust in his game, allowing five goals in three starts on a team that had the stingiest defensive record in NASL. But Miller said the plan is to have three keepers in camp, and allow them to battle for the place. “My philosophy is I want competition all over the park for places.” As well, he said the club is having discussions with Alberta soccer authorities about finding ways for their reserves to get more real game time. The team confirmed that three more players won’t be back for 2017 — fullbacks Adam Eckersley and Johann Smith, plus midfielder Gustavo. Eckersley was a regular starter at left back for the Eddies in 2016, and was responsible for taking many of the set pieces. Left-footed fullbacks and wing players are like gold in the modern game. “There was no doubt that Eck was probably the best left back the club has had in its history,” said Miller. “He was a terrific player for us. But the financial package was just too great for the club’s budget.” Miller said the team has already signed a replacement at left back, a player he said has been a captain of his European side. Smith was used as a depth player over the last couple of seasons. The former Toronto FC player offered a speedy option on the wing but wasn’t a player who could find his way into the everyday lineup. Gustavo was brought in last season and scored maybe the nicest goal of the Eddies season, a 30-yard lightning bolt in the dying seconds of a fall season game at Rayo OKC that allowed the visitors to escape with a tie. But he was often used as a sub to offer a change of pace late in games.