Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Eddies need other options as Saiko gets more attention from defenders

Eddies need other options as Saiko gets more attention from defenders

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For Shaun Saiko, it is the best of times, and it is the worst of times.

Saiko has got five goals and three assists out of the 11 goals FC Edmonton has scored this season. So that means he has been in on 73 per cent of the club’s goals. But, as he shines, FCE struggled. Last week it lost to Atlanta for the first time in its NASL history. And, two games through a three-game homestand, the Eddies find themselves tied for the bottom in the NASL standings with just eight points. And, through the first two games of this stretch of home games, the club has just one point.

In order for FCE to break out of the funk, Saiko can’t be the only one wearing the Superman “S.” And, as each week goes by, his job gets tougher and tougher. Last week, Atlanta made sure to have someone man-marking Saiko as soon as he entered the Silverbacks side of half. The visitors were willing to adjust their formation, to ensure that a spy was on Saiko wherever he went. He expects more of the same when Fort Lauderdale comes to Edmonton this Sunday.

“By the attention that I am getting, I know I am doing something right,” said Saiko on Thursday. “But I have to find a way to fight through it, to still find a way to produce. And, if they (opponents) are around me, that means space opens up for other people to step up.”

Paul Craig has been effective — and possibly a tad unlucky – in the last two games playing up front for the Eddies. The Canadian forward has headed two balls into goal over the last two games — both from Saiko crosses — but in both cases was ruled offside on bang-bang line calls. He know that he has to be one of the players to take advantage of teams that will adjust their lines in order to man mark the hottest player in the league.

“He has had such an amazing start to the season,” said Craig. “He’s a phenomenal player, scoring a lot of goals, getting a lot of assists. We see that teams are even putting two players on him. That means there’s space created for the wingers and Yashir (striker Yashir Pinto) and we have to take advantage of that.”

Both Craig and Saiko agree on one other thing; that FCE is far better than its record of having just eight points after nine matches.

“We have some unbelievable players,” said Craig. “We have some national-team players. So many of us are very talented. The only thing we can do is stay focused. We have our two last games, which we didn’t do well in. And we know we are better than that.”

“We have to all focus on what we can do to win games,” said Saiko. “We have had some disappointing results, but we have to look forward, not back, We have to better. We haven’t been good enough.”


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