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FC Edmonton fullback gets shot to make national U-20 team

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FC Edmonton’s roster is filled with players who are hoping that featuring for the NASL club will get them back on the radar of the Canadian national program.

For left back Niko Saler, those hopes were heightened on Tuesday. Saler, currently in Arizona training with FC Edmonton as the club prepares for its inaugural NASL season, got the call and will join the Canadian U-20 team for its training camp in Florida ahead of the upcoming CONCACAF U-20 championships in Guatemala.

Canada opens that tournament on March 28 against Guadaloupe, and plays Costa Rica on April 1.

Saler will have five days to make an impression in Florida.

“They said they have another left-back but it’s always good to have two,” Saler said in a release from the club. “Hopefully it goes well.”

Niko Saler

FC Edmonton has more than a few Alberta-born players (Saler is from Lethbridge) who hope to use the club as a springboard to jumpstart their national-team careers. Players like former Middlesbrough prospect Shaun Saiko, Chris Lemire (who played with the national U-20 side in 2003) come to mind.

With clubs and academies established in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the Alberta players have got lost in the shuffle in recent years. Alberta-based players like Ethan Gage and Randy Edwini-Bonsu have had some impact, but they did so by going to the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency to make their mark.

If FC Edmonton can institute a base for Alberta players to come and excel, Saler could be just the first success story when it comes to catching the eyes of the national program.

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