Home Featured FCE won’t look at the standings… Instead, the Eddies have to look to run the table

FCE won’t look at the standings… Instead, the Eddies have to look to run the table

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Lance Parker makes a save against Carolina.
Don’t tell FC Edmonton’s players how far they are out of a playoff spot. Don’t talk to them about the help they need from other teams in order to get back into the chase for the NASL post-season.

After Saturday’s heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Carolina, which saw the Eddies twice take the lead yet leave the United States with nothing, FC Edmonton has six games left on the schedule. The Eddies, who have won five games so far this season, will simply look at each of those six remaining matches as must-win Cup games, and will wait and see how the chips fall at the end of the season.

“We can’t worry about the schedules of the other teams or the standings,” said FCE keeper Lance Parker Tuesday, after a sweltering 29 C practice on the artificial turf at the Edmonton Soccer Association facility on the city’s north side. “We have to look at every game that we have left as a win.”

And, even though the Eddies gave up two late goals to turn what should have been a grand win in North Carolina into a gut-wrenching loss, Parker acknowledges that, as a whole, FC Edmonton has been playing its best soccer of the season over the past month.

“We played well,” said Parker. “We just made a couple of mistakes in the back. Our defensive awareness needs to be a bit better. It was one of those games we can learn a lot from.

“But, looking at the teams we have to play, I feel that these are all teams we can beat. Earlier in the season, when we lost to some of these teams, I was shocked. But these are games we can win, we just have to finish our games off.”

That string of must-win games begins Saturday in Minnesota, when the Eddies face the Stars. Even though Parker may not be paying much heed to the standings, here is the breakdown. Carolina and Minnesota both lead the Eddies by seven points. Carolina has a game in hand. Minnesota is even on games. Two of the Eddies next three games are in Minnesota, with a home date to last-place Atlanta sandwiched in between.

Draws won’t do in Minnesota. The Eddies need to win both of the matches. If the Eddies were to win both, or win one by two goals or more and then draw the other, FCE would win the season series and take the tiebreaker, if needed, against the Stars. Because of Carolina’s game in hand, the casual observer would now look at the Stars as the target.

But the RailHawks do have to come to Edmonton, and still have a road date in Puerto Rico, plus two games against San Antonio and two more against Tampa Bay. It’s a brutal finshing run.

The Stars have two to play against San Antonio and two more against Puerto Rico, as well as the two against Edmonton.

So, with those kind of schedules left for their rivals, FCE would likely still make the playoffs if it could steal the points away from Minnesota and then handle the four other home games left on the schedule. But, again, this is a team that has just won five games this year.

And it’s up to coach Harry Sinkgraven to get this team past the emotional rollercoaster that was the Carolina match and looking forward to the next three weeks worth of matches.

“In the last seven minutes, to give up two goals, the last game was heartbreaking,” said Sinkgraven. “The lesson we learn is don’t be naïve. While we have to go forward, you also know when you have to slow down the game.”

When Ty Shipalane scored the winner for Carolina in time added on, FCE was caught pushing up the field, when the players knew going into the game that a win was perfect, but a “tie would be OK,” (Sinkgraven’s words) as the road draw would leave the gap at four points with plenty of soccer to play. But, in getting caught, the Eddies ended up turning what should have been a positive result into nothing. And it’s put a ton of pressure on the final six matches of the season.

But it’s something the players should relish, said Sinkgraven.

“When I was a player, I loved those games,” he said. “You can really show what you’ve got.”

NOTES: During Tuesday’s scrimmage, leading scorer Shaun Saiko sat out, icing his bad knee, while striker Yashir Pinto was still sidelined with the leg problem that left him off the road trip to Carolina. Kenny Caceros, who missed the Carolina trip with a charley horse, was back on the pitch. Midfielder Bryan Arguez and defender Kevin Hatchi, sporting his new blond dye job, also sat out the scrimmage.

RELATED:
FC Edmonton takes two leads, but squanders them in loss at Carolina (CLICK)

Saiko, Pinto forced to stay at home as their FCE teammates jet to North Carolina (CLICK)

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