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Fort Lauderdale punctuates miserable road trip for FC Edmonton

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Abe Thompson set up a goal, scored another

FC Edmonton debuted their old-is-new-again retro third kits, but couldn’t erase the demons that have been haunting this club throughout its winless road trip.

Just as it did in losses to Carolina and FC Tampa Bay, FC Edmonton started poorly, surrendering two goals to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the first 29 minutes of the game. And, it led the way to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat.

FCE lost all three games on this now-completed road trip, and four in a row overall.

In Carolina, the RailHawks dominated the first half, even though it took them 36 minutes to score. Tampa scored just six minutes into their victory over the Eddies. And, if you go back to FC Edmonton’s last home game, a loss to FC Tampa Bay — the visitors dominated the game early, even though FC Edmonton scored first, against the run of play.

Throughout this four-game losing streak, FC Edmonton has been slow out of the gate.

“It has been a major problem,” admitted midfielder Shaun Saiko. “We can’t start games the way that we have been. We are playing teams who are behind us in the standings, who are hungry for the points. It’s a tough league. And we put a lot of pressure on ourselves after that if we have to get a goal back. We aren’t dictating the pace early in the game. We need to dictate the pace and tell the other team ‘hey come beat us.’”

The Eddies, wearing the orange hoops of their third jerseys based on the Drillers of the old NASL, were continually attacked down the left side of their defence, with left back Niko Saler continually put under pressure.

FCE’s Chris Kooy gets his head to the ball in front of Fort Lauderdale’s Mike Palacio.

Saler has been chosen ahead of Alex Surprenant over the last two games, and he got caught on the first Strikers’ goal. At the 14-minute mark, the ball was played deep down his side of the pitch and Saler allowed Striker Abe Thompson to get to the ball before it rolled out of play. Saler and keeper Rein Baart, who had his hand up, looked to be surprised that Thompson kept the ball in play. Only centre back Paul Hamilton reacted to Thompson, but he arrived to late to stop Brian Shriver from poking home the low cross.

The goal came just seconds after Strikers keeper Matt Glaeser denied Dan Antoniuk from converting a cross from FC Edmonton midfielder Shaun Saiko,

Saiko had a great chance to get the equalizer later in the half, but Glaeser got just enough of his shot to deflect it off the post. It was as close as FC Edmonton would come.

“It was a great ball played over the top by Dizzy (Antoniuk),” said Saiko. “The goalie mad e a great save. I had the chance and I didn’t finish it. And then they came down the field and scored the second goal. If I would have scored, it might have been a different game, so I have to take the blame there. But, again, the goalie did make a great save.”

In the 29th, another attack came down Saler’s side. Cristian Arrieta, who was a key member of the Puerto Rico side that went to CONCACAF Champions League semifinals in 2009 and spent last season with the Philadelphia Union, came up from his right back position and slid a great pass to teammate Mike Palacio. Palacio cut it back from the right side to the top of the box, where Thompson was to slam it home.

Kyle Porter, tied for the lead on the FC Edmonton scoring charts with six, came on at halftime. With three games in a week, coach Harry Sinkgraven had tried to give Porter a rest and didn’t start him

But even he couldn’t revive the Eddies, who returned to the scene of their first-ever NASL win.
Shriver added insult to injury when he scored a wonder goal late in the game. He made a run off the left wing, cut across defender Antonio Rago, and unleashed a laser beam of a shot towards the near post that gave Baart no chance.

And, in a scary moment, Saiko had to leave the game after colliding with Glaeser. Both were chasing a loose ball in the area. Glaeser tried to stay in, but also had to come out a few minutes later — still suffering from the challenge. Saiko confirmed after the game that he was fine, and that Sinkgraven had planned to take him out of the game before the collision, anyways.

Scarily, the brightest moment of the game for FCE fans came on a, well, shoulder barge. In the second half, Hamilton sent Palacio flying as the Striker tried to get around the centre back and towards the FCE goal.

FC Edmonton now heads home, and knows it has six of nine at home. It needs this week to collect itself. It is still in the middle of the playoff pack, but it has given up two goals or more in each of its last four games. It has started poorly in all of them. The Eddies have a week to work out the kinks before the Puerto Rico Islanders visit Foote Field on Aug. 6.

And, the win for the Strikers now puts the Montreal Impact a whopping nine points out of a playoff spot.

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