Home Canadian Soccer FC Edmonton ready to unleash its 4-3-3

FC Edmonton ready to unleash its 4-3-3

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Harry Sinkgraven
When Toronto FC and FC Edmonton meet April 27 in the first leg of their Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal series, fans will likely see 4-3-3 vs. 4-3-3.

While FCE will be the heavy underdog, there will be similarities in the Dutch influenced style it plays with that of TFC. After all, FCE coach Harry Sinkgraven and TFC technical director and head coach Aron Winter were classmates when they went to get their coaching certificates.

Before TFC sees what FC Edmonton has to offer, the Alberta club will unleash the formation on a three-game road trip to open its first-ever NASL season, which kicks off April 9 against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Sinkgraven and the club worked on the 4-3-3 during the preseason training stint in Arizona, and will work on it again during a week’s worth of sessions in Sunrise, Fla. The team leaves for that camp on Saturday.

While the team has used the indoor facility at the Victoria Soccer Club as its home base, the field isn’t big enough for the players to learn the intricacies of 4-3-3, as the gaps simply aren’t the same.

“We want to go into the season on a high level,” said Sinkgraven.

“Fitness is the key,” said FCE central forward Chris Lemire. “As the striker, I have to come back and help the left back or the right back after we have completed our attack. You have to help on the defensive side.”

Midfielder Shaun Saiko, who has set up more than a few goals throughout the preseason, believes 4-3-3 is a better system to play in front of fans who may need to be won over.

Shaun Saiko
“It’s a system that’s way more attractive to fans. Everyone wants to win, but no one wants to come see their team defend all game long. The 4-4-2 is still a lot more common here. But I think 4-3-3 is the future. It’s a faster game. We play with five attackers, but our defenders are also encouraged to jump into the midfield and create even more attacking options.”

It will be a system played by a club that will be easy for Canadian soccer fans to get behind. Of the 23 players signed, 17 are Canadian, and 14 are Albertans. With the Montreal Impact, TFC and the Vancouver Whitecaps each creating academies that scoop up their local players, FCE hopes that it shows that Alberta’s prospects are up to snuff.

“Alberta is a big province,” said Sinkgraven. “The level of players here is fine. That is one of the goals of the club, to develop not only Canadian players, but Alberta players.”

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