Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton FCE coach Miller: “I should have been arrested, I was that angry” after handball call

FCE coach Miller: “I should have been arrested, I was that angry” after handball call


The Eddies overhauled their attack in the off-season, but, after three NASL matches and one Voyageurs Cup game, the 2014 stats look an awful lot like last year.

After the Eddies fell 1-0 on the road to Minnesota United FC Saturday night, the ledger looks like this; through three league games, FC Edmonton has scored just one goal, and allowed just three. And don’t forget that the Eddies played the Ottawa Fury to a 0-0 draw in the nation’s capital last Wednesday in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship preliminary round.

So, the book on FCE early in the 2014 season looks a lot like 2013; awfully hard to score on ‘em, but they don’t get a lot of offensive results, either.

Coach Colin Miller said after the Minnesota match that he felt his team played some very good soccer on Saturday, that the team deserved better, but he also admitted “that I’d rather have the team play horrendous and win than play some good football and lose.”

I the column that matters, points earned, FCE has just one after three league games. Minnesota already has nine points. With six weeks left in the NASL spring season schedule, it’s pretty tough to see the Eddies leapfrogging the field and making up eight points on the leaders.

So, for FCE, it needs to be all about the Cup; and what’s concerning for FCE supporters ahead of Wednesday’s Amway Canadian Championship preliminary round second leg is that the Fury got four goals at home to Carolina on Saturday. Striker Oliver Minatel got a hat trick, giving the Brazilian three times as many goals as FCE as a team this season. Philippe Davies got the other marker for Ottawa in its 4-0 win over the RailHawks.
The Fury has found a groove; while the Eddies need to find one.

Minnesota has three wins in three games, and now stands alone at the top of the NASL standings. The key moment came in the 68th minute of the match, when Marko Aleksic, the teenager added to the FCE roster at the start of the season, was found guilty of blocking a Simone Bracalello shot with his hand. Bracalello beat FC Edmonton keeper John Smits with a low drive inside the left post on the penalty kick.

Aleksic had slid to block Bracalello’s initial attempt, and the ball caught him on the arm. He was in the middle of his slide when the ball hit his arm.

The call made FCE coach Colin Miller apoplectic.

“In my life, I’ve never said so many bad words in such a short period of time. I should have been arrested, I was that angry. I said it after the Ottawa game and I will say it again, the standard of the officiating has got to be better. I have a lot of respect for Minnesota. They’ve spent some money, they have a very good team, very well coached. And the referee was bad for both sides. But, after the game, the guys got together and gave Marko a big round of applause. That shows you the unity we have on this squad. Marko’s just 17, and I thought he came in and played very well.”

Now, to be a bit of a devil’s advocate for FC Edmonton (or maybe a lot of a devil’s advocate), the game could have been very different had referee Younes Marrakchi decided to not to show leniency to Minnesota United defender Tiago Calvano. In the fourth minute, FCE strike Frank Jonke got behind the defence, and was fouled from behind by Calvano. FCE players expected Calvano to see a red for the foul but, after consulting with the linesman, Calvano decided to show yellow instead — a decision which incensed Jonke and his teammates.

“For me, the call on Frank is a stone-wall red card,” said Miller. “There is not chance of a second defender getting over in time.”

Now, it’s easy to get in the referee’s head in this case; it’s Minnesota’s home opener, and you don’t want to spoil the game in minute four.

Think back a couple of weeks; when FCE went to Tampa for the Rowdies’ home opener. Tampa Bay keeper Matt Pickens should have been sent off for fouling Jonke in the box; a penalty was awarded, the keeper was the last man back. But there was no card in that case, either.

Currently, the Canadian Soccer Association handles the refereeing assignments for games in Canada, while PRO handles the assignments for games on American soil. But, for the sake of optics, it would look better on all parties if the Canadian officials were occasionally sent down to the U.S. to do games there while the American officials were sent to Canada to do games in Ottawa and Edmonton. It’s something the NASL should look into for the sake of integrity.

To be fair, FCE’s Michael Nonni deserved to go off in the 68th minute. He was already on a yellow when he came in late on Minnesota’s Miguel Ibarra. But Marrakchi chose to warn Nonni rather than issue the second yellow.

Minnesota's Christian Ramirez in action against FCE.
Minnesota’s Christian Ramirez in action against FCE.

From the start, FCE coach Miller opted to go with the two-striker attack, using both Jonke and Tomi Ameobi — the only Eddie to find the net so far this season — up front. That changed from the one-attacker set Miller had been using from the start of matches.

And the Eddies did create chances. Not only was there the controversial call on Calvano but, later in the first half, Daryl Fordyce got the ball after FCE had moved the ball well in Minnesota’s penalty area and then blasted a low shot that keeper Matt Van Oekel could only deflect. But the deflection took the ball into the air, and the ball was headed off the line.

Aleksic came in at halftime to replace Kareem Moses in the centre of defence, a move that would have a huge impact on the game. Moses had to leave with a hamstring problem.

Minnesota strengthened as FCE, playing its third game in a week, looked to wane as the game went on. Before Bracalello’s goal, Minnesota had two very good chances to open the scoring. Floyd Franks, known more for his tackling than his scoring ability, had a clear shot from just six yards out — but he scuffed at the ball and a slow roller went right into the arms of a grateful John Smits in the Edmonton goal. Then, Smits was called to make a sprawling save on a Cristiano Dias header off a corner kick.

The 0-2-1 start to the NASL season, with just that one goal scored, now puts incredible pressure on Miller and his players to beat Ottawa in Wednesday’s ACC second leg. The game is at Clarke Stadium — and a loss at home to Ottawa (or any draw that isn’t 0-0) would send the Fury through to face the Montreal Impact in the next leg. Not getting through to the next round would put huge pressure on the club; the spring title is almost out of reach (already) and stumbling at the first leg of the domestic Cup competition could make for a very long spring in the Alberta capital.

Miller hopes that central defender Mallan Roberts, out since the first week of the season with a hamstring problem, can get back into the lineup for Wednesday, as Moses’s hamstring issue creates a new headache. Nonni is also nursing a hamstring problem.


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  1. john anderson

    May 1, 2014 at 3:40 am

    @ left back, you must play pretty high level soccer in yeg. Of those players you listed, the only ones I like to see back with FCED(trial basis) are Eddy Sidra, Niko Saler, John Pegg, Sam Lam, Lars. Ongaro already had a preseason trial, n may need to try Europe first before nasl. If ur mentioning Lars, why not bring Tam Nsaliwa. The majority of that is based on age. Rago choose not to come back, try his hand with another club. Hamilton might be a possibly if there’s more injuries to the current CB. Even if he was brought back, I could see Roberts, Alesic getting the bulk of development.

    I don’t see why the club doesn’t play more exhibition against Edm Scottish. They are pretty much a semi-pro club, similar to a lower level english level. Fced academy, vs scottish, Fced first team vs scottish, scottish vs Fury would all be interesting match-up.

  2. Soccerfan

    April 29, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    @footy I don’t think Miller is making the refs the enemy. I think it is just lip service for the owner and the public. “The reason we lost is because of the refs.” That is my whole point, don’t even bring the refs into the conversation, leave them out. Play your game!!!! It is bush league and shows that he is not accepting responsibility. How do you know they will be scoring at some point? They didn’t last year and they are not this year. We have a large enough sample size and they are not scoring.

  3. footy

    April 29, 2014 at 7:40 am

    @ Leftback

    I can go along with you on a couple of points. Yes Miller likes a physical team and yes they don’t create a whole lot.

    But looking back at the first season…NASL was different then, the level has gone up. The same players (and practically staff) didn’t succeed in the second year so that tells you something.

    The way Miller presents himself in the media is pretty normal. I mean, you have to work with these guys and motivate them. You can’t burn them to the ground after a loss. So what he does he creates the common enemy in the refs of the league, to bond his team.

    And in all fairness, that was a harsh call and seeing how it was the only difference between the sides, I can understand his frustration. Miller protected a young defender (Aleksic), which is the correct thing to do anyway.

    Even though I’m not a fan of Miller’s, the level of play has gone up compared to last season. It hasn’t translated into victories but that happens sometimes. The scoring of goals is the hardest part in soccer, but Fordyce can score goals, Jonke can, Hlavaty can etc. They will be scoring goals at some point. FCE is at least better than Indy, the Rowdies and probably Ottawa.

  4. left back

    April 29, 2014 at 6:13 am

    here is my EFC team

    coach – Paulus

    lars hirschfeld ( bring the lad back home!)

    Duberry / Hamilton / kooy / rago

    pegg / saiko / yamada / Sam Lam

    ongaro – Reyes (callies)

    brilliant starting 11…. all alberta boys… great squad…

    bench –

    McCormick (Scottish)
    Korthius (G and G) – outstanding player that many may not know
    C. Lemire – ex efc, montreal impact
    K. Bartkus (Scottish)
    Rob Friend – with galaxy but a good sask lad.
    Randy edwini bonsu
    eddy sidra – can you get fit again?

    that group would be a scary 16 and do so well in the nasl…

    all alberta or prairie lads… such good players…

    that squad would murder the current fce team… at half the price.

    honourable mention to dave randall, kevin poissant as coaches

    I would buy season tickets every year to watch that lot…

  5. left back

    April 29, 2014 at 12:05 am

    to add to my last post… you have to realize… every player CM brings in is physical and typically large in stature… outside Boakai… they have an imposing team… but… how does that translate to winning… football is about skill… and skill will beat strength every time… intelligence and quality…. there is no defence for that… Colin was a plunker…. a good plunker but a plunker all the same… so he brings in plunkers….

    I don’t want to be critical on this thread…. and I want EFC to succeed…. I am just so annoyed that he has run local talent out of our local team…. I was at a meeting and he said straight up “our local guys are not good enough”….. well… remember EFC qualified for the post season with local guys in the 2nd year (please correct me if I am wrong… 1st or 2nd year)… they were local lads from the AMSL and did a great job…. Lemeire,, Cooy, Duberry, Saiko, Yamada, Rago, Hamilton…the list goes on.. not taking Ongaro or Pegg who were standouts in American universities… why not give a local boys a chance?

    so… local guys have qualified us for the post season and all Colin has done is put Edmontonian soccer talent down… get them off the squad… then bring in over rated players on the down turn of their careers…… and go on to have a nightmare season… well done.

    Honestly…. EFC is in shambles… there is no doubt… Colin doesn’t understand a player or the market he is coaching in… if we had all local lads playing… we would have more than 1 point from 3 games and more than one goal scored…. I would rather see us lose 4 – 2 than tie nil nil…..

    I want the team to succeed but he has pissed to many local players and supports of those players off… shame….. really….

  6. left back

    April 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    good points soccerfan… it is the same comments after every loss… refs… “thought we played well”… same old story every time… and Paulus… he is a nice fella and has good intentions… but a little honesty would go along way in this business… if JP or CM… would just be honest and focus on the game and why they aren’t scoring or winning games… I would have time for them… like soccerfan wrote…. after every game it is a new spin on the same story… excuses!

    Why doesn’t he talk about his team and who is not doing the job….. and himself….. “I should have been arrested”…. give me a break… a poor call… every team knows how that feels… just get on with it….

    I am starting to refer to articles about EFC after the weekend game as the “Monday moaning session”….. brought to you by Colin Miller.

  7. footy

    April 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Just to be clear. You’re fine with the losses and draws?

  8. Soccerfan

    April 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Is it just me or does Miller and Paulus never accept responsibility for a loss? For the last year and a half it is always the REFS!!! How about these words come out of your mouth, “the better team won and I need to focus on getting FC Edmonton” better!!! Miller just does not get it. Man up and accept responsibility!!

    You are in last place, it is not the ref’s fault.

    And Paulus, first he writes these horrendous articles for the FC Edmonton website that have no merit or real insight. And than he goes onto twitter and will talk to the fans about the ref missing a call against Minnesota.

    Jeff, do you think Mourinho or Rogers will go onto twitter after a game and bitch about a call with the fans? NO!! Grow up and focus on your job not social media. If you have time to manage a twitter account and get into beefs with Chris Nurse, you are not doing your job.

    I am not going to anymore games until Miller and Paulus stop blaming the refs after a loss!!!!!!

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