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FC Edmonton hopes for a Cup “clanger” with Impact


Colin Miller still remembers the 1995 Scottish Cup semifinal. He was part of a Hearts team — a Scottish Premier League side — that was supposed to crush the lower-division opponent, Airdrie.

That day, the majority of the fans at Glasgow’s Hampden Park were wearing the burgundy of Hearts; they’d made the trip down from Edinburgh to see what they thought was going to be a stroll in the park.

They went back to Edinburgh with tears in their eyes. Airdrie upset Hearts by a 1-0 count.

Now, as manager of FC Edmonton, Miller hopes his lower-division side can do to the Montreal Impact what Airdrie did to Hearts 19 years ago.

“That’s the romance of the Cup,” said Miller after FC Edmonton finished training in the blustery winds and light snow Tuesday at Clarke Stadium. “It’s filled with clangers. And we hope we have another clanger tomorrow night.”

The Eddies scored three last week to dispatch the Ottawa Fury from the Amway Canadian Championship, but the task gets tougher with the defending champion Montreal Impact coming to the Alberta capital. The teams face each other Wednesday night in the first match of their two-legged semifinal. The return match goes in Montreal the following Wednesday.

Montreal is the heavy favourite, despite winning just one game in MLS competition so far this season. The Impact is coming off a bye week, while Edmonton is, thanks to Cup play, will be in its sixth match in three weeks. FCE is dead last in the NASL, with just one point and two goals for in four matches.

But the histories of cup competitions are filled with stories of teams that, struggling in league play, pull off Cinderella runs. Just last season, Wigan won the FA Cup in a season that it was relegated out of the English Premiership.

In Miller’s mind, when it comes to cup games, league form goes out the window.

“The cup is an entirely different competition,” he said. “We deserve to be here. I thought we played very well over two legs last year against Vancouver… It’sa terrific occasion, with the big guys coming into our humble little stadium.”

Miller decided to rest some key players for much or all of Saturday’s league match against Fort Lauderdale, a 3-1 loss. He rotated the squad in preparation for Montreal’s visit, so that’s all you need to know about how seriously Edmonton is taking the Voyageurs Cup.

But, despite the strategy, right back Edson Edward is out of the lineup Wednesday, due to yellow-card accumulation.

Striker Frank Jonke, who didn’t start on Saturday as part of Miller’s rotation plan, said he thinks the strategy will pay off.

“I am very fresh. We had a very good plan to rest players. When you’re a player who is 29 who had played a lot of minutes, you do what’s best for the team.”

But Jonke isn’t in awe of the Impact. He said that the difference between an MLS side and an NASL team is the presence of Designated Players. But, Montreal will be resting Marco Di Vaio for the match on Wednesday.

“Other than that, it’s the same,” said Jonke. “It’s the same college players who come to NASL and MLS.”

Basically, in Jonke’s eyes, take any DP away from an MLS side, and you’ve got an NASL side in terms of quality.


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  1. Andre

    May 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    MLS is a big step, a leap even, above the NASL. I like the NASL, I don’t mean this derisively, but the quality gap between them is huge. Maybe in a one off a NASL club can outplay an MLS club, but that’s football, 22 men and a ball. It’s not really dispositive of anything; if a Div 3 team ties Arsenal or Man U in the FA (which has happened), no one would take that to mean that Div 3 is close to the Premiership in quality. The idea that the NASL is even close to the MLS in quality is totally wrong.

  2. Scottish Teeth

    May 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Not only did Montreal lose the match, the final score somewhat flattered them. The Impact gave Edmonton far too much space all game, allowed them to build up into the midfield all evening, and rather than seizing the match they sat back and waited to the Eddies to hand it to them through a miscue or mistake. The Impact believed comments such as those above, that they were just a cut above on every level and didn’t have to respect their opponent. As this match, and US Open Cup matches, have showed, the difference between Div 1 and Div 2 in North America is marginal at best.

  3. footy

    May 7, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Yeah in all honesty I don’t think Edmonton has a chance. A 0-0 tie would be the best possible result for Miller cs.

  4. cwell

    May 6, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Likely true for the large part of MLS rosters. But not entirely: Steven Caldwell, for instance, is head and shoulders better than NASL CBs, Will Johnson is better than NASL mid-fielders, Kekuta Manneh is better than NASL strikers, and so on.

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