Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton FCE roster depleted by call-ups, injuries ahead of key clash with Minnesota United FC

FCE roster depleted by call-ups, injuries ahead of key clash with Minnesota United FC


The highest scoring team in NASL, Minnesota United, will visit and FC Edmonton team that’s on a two-game losing skid — and hasn’t scored in either of those defeats.

And, the Eddies will have a reconstructed midfield on display Sunday at Clarke Stadium. Left winger Lance Laing is on World Cup qualifying duty with Jamaica. Right winger Sainey Nyassi is with Gambia for an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon.

Eddies’ coach Colin Miller said that central midfielders Thiago de Freitas and Ritchie Jones are both doubtful for the Minnesota match — Jones suffered a thigh strain in last weekend’s loss to Atlanta, while de Freitas is nursing a bad hamstring.

There is some good news. Defender Mallan Roberts and midfielder Pablo Cruz — who had both been on the shelf — were training on Thursday, and both would be available for the Minnesota game.

“Well, that’s what they pay us [the coaching staff] for; we rejig things,” said Miller after Thursday’s training session at Clarke Field. “This club is about more than one player.

“But we’ve created a monster here, in terms of players getting call-ups to their national teams. It’s a situation we’ve never had to deal with before this season, but it’s also an honour for the club.”

Thiago de Freitas
Thiago de Freitas

Miller has been on both sides of the coin. As a club manager, he hates losing players to the national teams. But he knows the national-team callups bring prestige to not only FCE, but the NASL as a whole. And, he recalls when he played for Canada, that it wasn’t always an easy sell to his Scottish club sides.

“In my career, I made [60] appearances for the national side and, every time, it was my club that paid my wages. There was one year where I missed 18 games because of call-ups.”

Miller says that was the 1992-93 season; Canada had an exceptionally long World Cup qualifying campaign — in fact, as long as any CONCACAF team could have. The Canadians got the wild-card slot in CONCACAF and into a playoff with then-Oceania champs Australia. Canada didn’t make USA 1994, but endured a long campaign which meant many club games lost for the players.

According to NASL, nine players will be gone this weekend because of international duties. And Miller agreed that NASL could look at its schedule and to see if there’s room to have league-wide byes when the FIFA dates come around.

He said that there’s a worry that, if a player is regularly called up — especially in a year that also has a Gold Cup, World Cup or other summer tournament — that a North American side might hesitate to sign said player. After all, it’s a big risk to ink a player who you know has a good chance of missing a significant number of league games.

That risk becomes all the much greater if said player is taking a large chunk of your salary budget.

But, debates aside, Miller has a tough task ahead of him Sunday; his team is depleted and, if the Eddies are to snap this losing streak, someone will likely need to come from the squad and make a statement as a starter.

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  1. John Anderson

    September 5, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I m confused. Miller wants to win an NASL Championship but he isn’t looking forward to losing players to international duties. To have a strong team in the NASL, you would expect your best players to get called up. So Miller feels like signing players that aren’t on their respective country national team radar in exchange for the convenience of having them all the time just indicates he is fine with more mediocre talent and not finding the best players available. Having his players leave on international duty allows for other players to get minutes/develop. I don’t see the issue, if anything it’s an opportunity for players to try-out for their jobs next year.

    • Steven Sandor

      September 5, 2015 at 11:04 am

      That’s the whole point. Colin himself is torn — and that’s what the story is attempting to show. There’s the knowledge that it’s great for a club to have players picked for int’l duty, but it also creates short-term grief when they are gone.

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