Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton FCE’s Saiko gets clean bill of health ahead of Atlanta match

FCE’s Saiko gets clean bill of health ahead of Atlanta match

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FC Edmonton’s leading scorer, Shaun Saiko, has been greenlighted by doctors to play in Sunday’s must-win tilt against the Atlanta Silverbacks.

Saiko, who has missed FCE’s previous two matches with a sore knee, will be available for selection, as the Eddies will try and make up a seven-point gap between themselves and the Minnesota Stars for the final playoff spot in the NASL. Both teams have five matches left. The Eddies play four of their last five at home.

Atlanta is in last place in the league, and the week after this match, the Eddies go to Minnesota for a vital six-pointer. But Saiko said there is no chance the team would look past the Silverbacks.

“I think we have to play to the occasion,” said Saiko. “It doesn’t matter who we are playing right now, we need the points. It doesn’t matter if we play Atlanta or if we play San Antonio. We have to got out and win the games. And if we can’t win, well maybe we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.

“With five games left in the season I don’t think we should even care about who we are playing. We just have to win every game.”

Atlanta, despite its struggles, did beat Edmonton for the only time in its history the last time it came to Clarke Stadium. The Silverbacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then hung on in the second half. On that afternoon, the Eddies struggled in the first half, especially with the Silverbacks’ style of play, as much of Atlanta’s offence came off the booming goal kicks of Daniel Illyes. His long kicks were sent right into the heart of the Eddies’ defence.

Defender Paul Hamilton said the Eddies expect more of the same from Atlanta. A direct style which will force the centre backs to be alert on all balls sent upfield.

The Eddies are looking healthy: Matt Lam did not practice Thursday with the first team, and Chris Kooy sat out part of practice. But the rest of the team was all taking part in drills.

The Eddies announced Thursday that general manager Tom Leip has been named to the Canadian Soccer Association’s Professional Soccer Committee, which includes representation from the Canadian Soccer League, the three Canadian MLS clubs and the Eddies.

Leip was a fixture on the Oregon Sports scene before coming to Eddies, having worked for the Portland Timbers, the Portland Beavers AAA baseball club and Portland State University.

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