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FC Edmonton vents frustration over losing streak in spirited training session

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Antonio Rago

FC Edmonton’s training session at Foote Field Wednesday was more, ahem, spirited than usual.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. To see some tough tackles and a few curse words uttered on the pitch is a sign that the team isn’t taking its current four-game losing streak all that well. In fact, it’s comforting to see that FC Edmonton isn’t getting comfortable with poor results.

The losing skid has seen FC Edmonton plummet from second in the NASL standings to the middle of the table.

After being put through fitness testing on Tuesday, the club had a full 45-minute scrimmage Wednesday and were instructed by coach Harry Sinkgraven to hold nothing back.

“Obviously, guys are frustrated,” said FCE defender Paul Hamilton. “We are on a losing streak. It’s OK to be critical of each other in practice, as long as you don’t take things too far.”

Defending has to be a major concern for this club; in the last four games, it has given up 12 goals. Early goals conceded have been a killer.

“They are all little mistakes that can be corrected easily,” said Hamilton.

“I don’t think all the goals against are because of tactical problems,” said right back Antonio Rago. “They are because of mental breakdowns or technical mistakes on our part. We don’t to work on how we play, we need to work on eliminating those mental and technical mistakes. Losing streaks happen all the time. The only way I know how to get out of the losing streak is to work hard.”

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The Eddies know that the toughest part of the schedule is done. Down the home stretch of the schedule, six of nine games will be on the hard turf of Foote Field. FCE should have a decided home advantage.

“I can think of only one game this year where we played really poorly here,” said Hamilton. “So it is an advantage to have so many games at home. It’s hard for other teams to come here and play here. We have to take advantage.”

FCE plays Puerto Rico on Saturday. The Islanders used a squad of reserves against the Montreal Impact in a 1-0 loss on Sunday, as the starters were rested for Wednesday’s night’s home leg of their CONCACAF Champions League qualifier against El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan. Metapan leads 2-0 after the first leg.

From there, the Islanders have to make the longest road trip in NASL, from the Caribbean to Edmonton. So, there’s a good chance that the Islanders will be fatigued and/or may not start their best XI at Foote Field.

FC Dallas connections
FC Edmonton played MLS runners-up FC Dallas in the preseason, and there is one strong tie between the teams.

FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman and Carmelo Rago, father of FC Edmonton right back Antonio Rago, played together at Eastern Illinois University in the early ‘70s. The two have kept in contact and Hyndman met with the younger Rago in Texas when Antonio was part of the Vancouver Whitecaps’ youth team that played in the Dallas Cup.

Hyndman and Rago caught up again when the clubs played each other in preseason.

“It’s nice that they’ve kept in touch, 30 to 40 years later,” said the younger Rago of his dad’s friendship with Hyndman.

The Eastern Illinois connection doesn’t stop there. Joe Petrone, FCE’s Director of Soccer Operations, became an assistant coach there in 1976 before taking a job with the NASL’s Drillers in 1979.

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