Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Goalkeeper sub the talking point of FCE’s spring-season finale

Goalkeeper sub the talking point of FCE’s spring-season finale

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It’s not something you see often. So, when it happens for a reason other than injury, it’s a talking point.

That’s why the analysis of FC Edmonton’s spring-season finale — a 3-0 loss on the road to the Indy Eleven — has to begin by looking at the decision to yank keeper John Smits at halftime.

Smits allowed a goal on a shot from well outside the area. Then, he committed a foul in the box after spilling a shot — and that led to a penalty-kick marker. When the Eddies emerged at halftime down two goals, Matt VanOekel was the new man in goal.

Coach Colin Miller said there was no injury; that it was his call to change things up.

He didn’t want to pile on after the game. He simply said the move pretty well spoke for itself, and he wouldn’t say much more about it than that.

A little less than a month ago, Smits replaced VanOekel as the starting keeper; that came right after the Eddies lost to Vancouver on a second-leg 97th minute-goal in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal.

With 22 goals allowed in 10 regular-season games — and just one clean sheet in the spring season — the Eddies’ keepers have picked the ball out of the back of their net far more than any other NASL team’s net minders.

The Eddies started the game without the service of injured striker Tomi Ameobi. Defender Mallan Roberts, who had played every minute so far this season, was off on Canadian national-team duty. Left winger Lance Laing – four goals and four assists in nine games — played earlier in the day for Jamaica at the Copa America. Right winger Sainey Nyassi was on the bench, but wasn’t healthy enough to actually play. Same with defender Kareem Moses. Forward Daryl Fordyce’s groin injury would only allow him 10-15 minutes, max.

So, right back Eddie Edward was shuffled into Roberts’s centre back spot alongside Albert Watson. Allan Zebie and Johann Smith were the fullbacks. And Hanson Boakai finally got the start that fans have been baying for all season long. (Boakai, like Smits, lasted just 45 minutes).

SmitsPlaying on a warm, humid in Indiana, the Eddies were immediately put under siege. Ten minutes in, Indy’s Erick Norales headed a ball off the top of the bar. Then, Victor Pineda was allowed to turn in the penalty area and fizzed a shot just wide of the far post.

Smits got fingertips to a Dylan Mares shot in the 23rd.

But, just as it was beginning to look like the Eddies were going to survive the siege — as the visitors began to get more of the ball as the half went on — a giveaway from Chad Burt began what would be a comedy of errors. After he turned the ball over at half, no Eddie midfielder picked up the run of Brian Brown right up the middle of the park. No defender stepped up, either So, Brown fired from about 25 yards out — and, after one hop, the ball nestled into the corner of the Eddies’ goal.

And, just before half, Smits spilled a shot from Mares right into the path of Indy’s Kyle Hyland. Smits wrapped his arms around Hyland’s ankles for what might be the least controversial penalty call in Eddies’ history. Mares converted the chance, and FCE coach Colin Miller had seen enough.

“I am disappointed, but we started the game by having to make so many changes,” said Miller. “That’s not to make a million excuses. But I had to make a back four that was unusual; the players, individually are very good but collectively, they aren’t that familiar playing with each other.”

It got worse for the Eddies in the second half. Cristian Raudales, who had come on for Boakai, got a straight red from ref Chris Penso for a blow to the head of Indy’s Marco Franco.

“I’ve had the chance to look at the replay three or four times, and I thought it the call was a bit harsh,” said Miller. “I think it deserved a yellow, at worst. I didn’t think it was a sending off.”

And, late in the match, Indy sub Duke Lacroix streaked past the back line and smashed the ball past Van Oekel.

Hours before the Eddies faced the Eleven, left winger Lance Laing made his Copa America debut. He came on as a 54th-minute sub for Jamaica, and had an influence on the game — providing two crosses that created scoring chances for the Reggae Boyz. The Jamaicans lost 1-0 to Uruguay, but certainly the gulf between the teams wasn’t what many would have expected before the match.

Remember that Laing is also expected to go to the Gold Cup with Jamaica; so, there’s a good chance that he won’t be available for the Eddies when the fall season begins.

The Eddies finish the spring season with just nine points. But, if there is a bright side, the team is only five points out of fourth spot. Remember that the NASL gives post-season spots to the winners of the spring and fall season, then to the next two teams with the best spring-fall combined records. So, it’s likely that fourth overall would be a post-season spot — and there are still 20 games to go in the fall.

The New York Cosmos, thanks to a 3-3 draw with Jacksonville, clinched the spring season title and one of the top two seeds in the NASL postseason.

Miller said there will be additions made in the break between the spring and fall seasons. Two players have signed letters of intent, and could be on the field when the Eddies launch their pre-fall-season camp. A third will be at Gold Cup with his country.

Miller said that he also will do what he can to make sure that Laing remains with the Eddies — but stressed he has not had any inquiries from other clubs. It’s simply a case of knowing where Laing’s long-term plans lie.

TO READ STEVEN SANDOR’S COVERAGE OF THE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP, GO TO SPORTSNET.CA
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6 Comments

  1. left back

    June 16, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    So another Spring season has come and gone and FCE finds themselves in a all to familiar situation. Near bottom of the table coming off a brutal display in Indy. The team now doesn’t play for 3 full weeks as they transition from spring to fall seasons.

    CM has to be concerned. His big line is… ‘let the teams results be the measuring stick’. Well… ok… if that is the case then he should probably be shown the door.The thing that bothers me most with FCE is the team is always playing catch up. In the league table and during games. It is always a series of excuses why they aren’t successful. It has never been easy, comfortable or classy with what this team is about. The players change but the attitude and results stay the same. There are moments of potential but they are masked by consistently being at the bottom of the table and losing games in ridiculous fashion… then Que the silly quotes from CM ‘ i could of killed someone, the ref was shocking, we must be most unlucky team in the world’….. he has a bag full of them.

    Obviously there is something missing or something that CM is missing in his training and thought process about the league. Jacksonville Armada came into the league this year and hit the ground running while FCE continue to struggle. Ottawa is even ahead in the standings.

    Anyway… same old FCE. Bottom of the league….. but hey… big changes and new signings are being promised so i am sure we will turn that corner and be a force in the fall…. ;-(…. we are such a good team when it doesn’t matter.

    Reply

  2. John Anderson

    June 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    The squad isn’t too bad … They have international spot available, need another CB/Defensive midfielder and a forward that can finish … & send Farago, Aleskic on loan to get minutes

    Smith, MVO can go … use that salary to replace to get better players

    Reply

  3. ??

    June 14, 2015 at 7:40 am

    4 points out of a playoff spot means they have a good shot at being in the post season. The team has some very good players. I think we’ll make it a point to go to the games and support the lads.

    Reply

  4. footy

    June 14, 2015 at 3:11 am

    I don’t think Fath sees it as loosing money. He’ll see it as investing in the future of soccer in his city and country. You should be happy with guys like him.

    Laing is a goner. If he keeps performing at the Copa / Gold Cup like he has in Alberta, surely some of the hundreds of scouts will come back with a positive report? Don’t know if he’s tied, but he could actually make Eddies some money.

    Reply

  5. Kahkakew yawassanay

    June 13, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Another terrible start to the season, every year it is one reason or another but the reality is FCE just are and never have been good enough to win any titles or leagues…..it is simple to see why attendance has never averaged over 4000 per game. How long can the Faths lose money when their break even attendance is 8000 per game…they are most likely hoping this alleged new CFL CSA league will bring in new investment so they can get out before they lose a few more million on a marginal club at best

    Reply

    • D Po

      June 14, 2015 at 7:26 am

      The eddies are not Rick bottom of the standings but are rock bottom in attendance. It’s not a matter of our team losing, – we have an excellent at-home record- the attendance problems are a matter of exposure for the team. Most Edmontonians have never even heard of FC Edmonton. The Fath group needs to invest in good marketing for the attendance to rise.

      Reply

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