If Eddies want to keep the hot streak going, they’ll need to stop Minnesota’s Christian Ramirez By Steven Sandor Posted on August 28, 2014 1 0 433 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Colin Miller PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON The past few weeks have been very good to FC Edmonton. The club has at least temporarily put a halt to the what-if-they-could-score talk, bagging 10 goals over the last five games. The Eddies are up to fourth in the NASL fall standings, and have moved to within just four points of a playoff spot in the NASL overall table. At training on Thursday, reigning NASL player of the week Lance Laing, who scored a goal and had an assist in last Sunday’s 2-1 triumph over Fort Lauderdale, said there’s a noticeable “buzz” around the team. He said that all 18 players coach Colin Miller will name to the squad are dying to play. Laing says he’s never seen this team filled with such confidence. But, a lot of progress could be undone with a poor result against Minnesota United on Sunday. The Loons won the spring season and have the best overall record in NASL. And, the team also is home to the league’s top striker, Christian Ramirez. He leads NASL with 13 goals. No one else in the league has more than eight goals. So, stopping Ramirez will be a big assignment for the Eddies on Sunday at Clarke Stadium, especially for veteran defenders Albert Watson and Beto Navarro. Three weeks ago, Minnesota beat FCE 3-2 at home, with Ramirez getting one of the goals on a penalty. “The young lad is playing very well,” Miller said of Raimrez. “He’s taking every opportunity he’s getting at the moment. He didn’t create a lot of chances against us, but he was Johnny on the spot for a couple of chances. He’s scored a few penalties. I watched him against the Cosmos last week, he took his penalty very well. But he’s a dangerous, big player. He’s at the top of his game. I was reading some reports from the NASL about how he wss thinking about finishing his time in the game and not play anymore. Now he’s arguably the top striker in the league.” But Miller doesn’t want his defenders to lose their discipline; yes, it’s important to control Ramirez, but go too far and you’re asking to give up a lot of free kicks in dangerous places. “They are aware of his capabilities, but I don’t want them to get in a wrestling match with him,” said Miller. “We want to play with one, with cover, to go challenge the ball, but not to get into a wrestling match and bring fouls and free kicks against us in bad areas.” Back to that 3-2 game; even though the Eddies didn’t play at their best in Minnesota, they were oh so close to tying the game at the death, when Chad Burt’s deflected effort came off the crossbar. And, earlier in the game, the lineseman ruled out an effort from Eddie Edward that came off the chest of a Minnesota defender. The ball was 99 per cent over the line, but even still shots from the replays were inconclusive if the ball had gone in or not (CLICK HERE to see the views). After the ball was cleared, too many Eddies were occupied with lobbying for the goal to be given — and Minnesota went down the field and got a tally of its own. “Not one of our better performances, though we started very well,” said Miller, just minutes before young Eddies Sadi Jalali and Hanson Boakai doused him with a bucket of ice for the ALS challenge. “Lance Laing scored a good goal, and then we found ways to give the ball away. Our possession was poor. It was our third game of the week, away from home as well. It was a difficult fixture; it always is when you play Minnesota. So we stressed this week that when we get the ball, we need to retain it against the best team of the spring, and the best team in the fall at the moment.” (Miller has challenged me to take the ice bucket challenge… I’ll be getting doused after Eddies’ practice on Friday).