Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Hit the North! Eddies rout nine-man San Antonio

Hit the North! Eddies rout nine-man San Antonio

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Thanks to an injury crisis, FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller took a bare-bones team to Fort McMurray. He dressed three goalies for Sunday’s fall season opener, and back-up keeper John Smits was actually in an outfield player’s kit.

Miller joked that Smits said he was ready to go in and take penalties if need be. As in, taking them, not saving them.

It was so bad, that using Smits as a sub was not out of the question.

But, while the Eddies started off the game shorthanded, it was the San Antonio Scorpions who finished with just nine men on the field. And they faced a sombre 4,000-km-plus trip home to Texas from oil-sands territory after receiving a 4-0 hiding from the Eddies to open the NASL fall season.

This game offered plenty of talking points. Playing the first of two “home” games in Fort McMurray, the Eddies set a new CONCACAF standard; hosting the northernmost professional game in the region’s history. As well, the play of the Eddies’ young players — thrust into more prominent roles because of the injuries to the vets — had to be noted. Sadi Jalali scored on a penalty, Hanson Boakai scored a goal while on his back, and Allan Zebie put in another yeoman’s performance at fullback, neutralizing the threat of Scorpions speedster Billy Forbes.

And, then there was Lance Laing, who got permission from the Jamaican Football Federation to play in this match before heading to Los Angeles to join the Reggae Boyz for their Gold Cup preparations. He drew a penalty kick; he converted a penalty; and then he scored on a brilliant free kick — just another one for the highlight reel from, dare we say it, the best player in the league.

“It’s the result of practice,” Laing said. “I take a lot of free kicks in practice. It’s the repetition.”

Coach Colin Miller hailed the character of the players who came into the match. He said that many of his young charges took the chance to start the game — and, well, made the most of it. He hailed Boakai’s performance after the youngster was shifted from midfield to striker late in the first half. And he said that Zebie deserves praise for another confident shift at the fullback position.

As well, it needs to be noted that Matt VanOekel, who had been the subject of criticism in the first half of the season, made two vital saves — both on Omar Cummings — when the score was just 1-0.

In fact, at halftime — and trailing 1-0 — Scorpions coach Alen Marcina lamented his side’s lack of finish.

“We have to bury these chances,” he said. “We were the better team; we could be up two or three goals by now.”

But referee Yusri Rudolf’s work will also be questioned. In the second minute, he whistled Scorpions fullback Marvin Chavez for clipping Laing’s heel in the box. Laing had been sprung thanks to a fantastic through ball by Jalali — and Jalali was rewarded by getting the chance to convert the penalty. He sent Scorpions goalie Daryl Sattler the wrong way, and the Eddies were up a goal before some of the people had got to their seats or had settled into the luxurious row of private boxes in SMS Equipment Field at Shell Place.

How much contact was there? Well, let’s just say it started a slow burn amongst the Scorpions players.

Then, early in the second half, Canadian defender Adrian Cann bundled a ball into the goal off a corner kick; but the linesman’s flag was waving. Since there were two Eddies on the goal line, offside was out of the question. Was there a shove? To be fair, Cann put the ball in a second or two after the whistle, and VanOekel had already stopped playing. But it was hard to pick out why the play was stopped.

The Scorpions went from frustrated to incensed when Rudolf awarded the Eddies their second penalty of the game. Michael Nonni got behind the Scorpions Canadian centre-back tandem of Cann and Nana Attakora. Attakora reached out and grabbed Nonni by the shoulders. Nonni went down, and Attakora was sent off for the professional foul. But Attakora had to be restrained from going after the linesman who had flagged for the infraction. Was it a professional foul? Likely. Was it in the box. Not close. Not close at all. If you’ve followed my Women’s World Cup columns for Sportsnet, you know I’ve defended referees when they award penalties when the fouls occur inches outside the area. But, in this case, there was yards between the spot of the foul and the top of the box.

Laing stepped up, dispatched the penalty, and things got heated. As Laing celebrated with Boakai, Sattler kicked the ball directly at the two players. Rudolf sent him off.

Now down to nine men and back-up Matthew Cardone in net, the Scorpions could barely keep their composure. A ball was booted out of the stadium after a call. Rafael Castillo saw yellow for slamming the ball into the turf after a call went against him.

In the meantime, the Eddies took advantage. Boakai was knocked down by Cann in the area, but stayed with the ball and, from his back, swung at it with his boot. The result? A perfectly placed shot that froze Cardone.

Finally, Laing finished things up with a wonderful curler of a free kick, a curler that truly gave Cardone no chance.

I guess John Smits will just have to wait till the game to get his chance to play striker.

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

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11 Comments

  1. Hristo

    July 5, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Another reason why the Scoprions players were incensed about the Eddies 2nd PK goal was that they thought Nonni was offside. I was disappointed that you or or the TV crew didn’t pick up on this and show a reply to take a closer look at that issue. The mics even picked up Attakora mentioning this to Colin Miller about this as he walked off. But yes, the foul was also clearly outside of the box and should not have been a PK. San Antonio was hard done by today. But its not like the Eddies haven’t had games where those types of calls have gone against them.

    Reply

  2. Hristo

    July 5, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    The disallowed Scorpions goal off of the corner kick was likely due to the ball curling out of bounds on the corner, judging from the flight of the ball and the quickness with which the Assistant Ref put up his flag after the ball was kicked.

    Reply

    • Jason Brandt

      July 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Agreed. I am 100% sure this was the call on the field now after re-watching on the PVR. Shame the broadcast couldn’t have gotten the info somehow to settle SAS fans.

      Reply

      • Steven Sandor

        July 6, 2015 at 1:43 pm

        When the whistle is made, we made the call downstairs (we do this so in a way so you don’t hear it on-air) for clarification on the call. The word from the field was that it was offside, which we questioned right away.

        Reply

        • Jason Brandt

          July 6, 2015 at 2:39 pm

          I wonder if that was just a guess from downstairs or if the fourth official actually got the question. He seemed to have his hands full and may not have answered.

          Reply

  3. Soccerfan

    July 5, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    How many people were at the game?

    Reply

    • Steven Sandor

      July 6, 2015 at 12:04 am

      NASL had the attendance at 1,113, which is about right. (I didn’t get the number till after I got off the plane back in Edmonton). But, the goal of this excursion was to woo potential corporate sponsors, and there were many luxury boxes that were full, including the Suncor area.

      Reply

      • Marcus

        July 6, 2015 at 8:16 am

        It looked like maybe 300-400 max on TV, pretty disappointing!

        Reply

        • Steven Sandor

          July 6, 2015 at 8:47 am

          I would venture to say that a large portion if the 1113 were in the private boxes. Our broadcast position was off the same hallway as those boxes.

          Reply

  4. Jason Brandt

    July 5, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    On the corner didn’t the AR indicate goal kick. That would indicate the ball went out and came back in?

    Reply

    • Steven Sandor

      July 6, 2015 at 12:08 am

      If that’s the case, then the whistle came VERY late. The ball was played in the area before the whistle sounded.

      Reply

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