Home Featured FC Edmonton exercises option on Lam’s contract, as the club waits for JEF United decision

FC Edmonton exercises option on Lam’s contract, as the club waits for JEF United decision

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Matt Lam
FC Edmonton will find out on New Year’s Eve whether or not midfielder Matt Lam will be returning to the NASL club or staying in Japan.

But, FCE general manager Tom Leip confirmed that the club has exercised the option on Lam’s contract. If Lam comes back, FCE would have him on the books for the 2012 season.

Lam, a local product and former Ajax Academy attendee who was a standout in FCE’s 2010 season of friendlies, was loaned out to Japanese second-division side JEF United earlier this year. JEF has the option to buy Lam, but must make the decision before the loan deal expires on Dec. 31.

“We haven’t had any discussions on that particular thing (Lam), mainly because his Japanese team is still playing,” said Leip. “We don’t anticipate to hear an answer from them until their season has ended.”

Lam, though, hasn’t played much for a JEF United team that’s enduring a disappointing campaign. Former FCE coach Dwight Lodeweges and assistant Hans Schrijver left the Alberta capital to take lucrative posts at JEF United before the kickoff of the 2011 Japanese season. They brought two Eddies with them; Dutch veteran Sander van Gessel and Lam, who went on the loan deal.

But Lodeweges and Shcrijver were charged with getting JEF United back to the top flight. With just eight games left in the season, JEF is in fifth. Yes, the club is still just three points back of third, which is the last promotion spot. But, if the current run of poor form continues, JEF United will remain in Division 2, and you have to question how secure Lodeweges and Schrijver will be in their jobs. That could mean an out for Lam, too.

In March, as the Japanese league players resumed training after the devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami, Lam spoke of the pressure of playing at JEF.

“In Japan, people see us as a first-division club that’s playing down in the second division. We don’t want to stay here too long. We don’t want to be seen as a second-division team.”

If Lam comes back, it creates an awfully talented (and crowded) midfield. Where to fit Dutch veteran Ilja Van Leerdam, NASL all-star Shaun Saiko and NASL minutes-played leader Chris Kooy? It’s a nice problem for coach Harry Sinkgraven to have, though.

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