Impact exposes FC Edmonton’s defence, goalkeeping By Steven Sandor Posted on May 2, 2011 2 0 418 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Ali Gerba The Impact routed FCE 5-0 in the first NASL game played at Foote Field, with league commissioner David Downs in attendance. For the third game in a row, FCE’s backline showed it struggles when faced with a big, physical striker. In a loss to Carolina, Etienne Barbara was a force. Alan Gordon was able to cause lots of problems in Toronto FC’s 3-0 win in Nutrilite Canadian Championship play. On Sunday, Ali Gerba scored twice and terrorized central defender Paul Hamilton for 60 agonizing minutes before getting some needed rest ahead of Wednesday’s Nutrilite Canadian Championship second leg against the Vancouver Whitecaps. “We have injury problems, we are missing (Dutch veteran back Paul) Matthijs,” said FC Edmonton coach Harry Sinkgraven. “I think, though, altogether the players, we are too nice in the back.” Too nice indeed. Gerba, who had yet to score this season as Montreal went winless in its first three, was left wide open to deflect a shot/pass from Luke Kreamelmayer before the 10-minute mark. And, Montreal made it 3-0 in relaitively short order. The Impact players didn’t pass the ball through the FCE midfield. They simply understood that FCE was soft down the middle, punting balls right up the gut for Gerba and his strike partner, Anthony Legall, to chase down. Legall and Gerba were both left wide open as Zourab Tsiskaridze drove a free kick into the penalty area. Legall tipped it home, looking more like a hockey play than a soccer play — deflecting home a shot from the point. Then, Gerba simply outran Hamilton after the defender let a long ball bounce off the turf. Gerba got past Hamilton, and stroked home the third inside the post. Understand that the turf on Foote Field is not like the fake grass that BMO Field used to have or you’d find at Empire Field in Vancouver. This was bouncy, hard carpet. And the Impact did a better job adjusting to the turf than FCE, who won two of its first three on the road. “That’s something we talked about with the players,” said Impact coach Marc Dos Santos. “We knew with conditions like this, the ball was going to bounce a lot, so it would be important to win individual battles all over the field. In a game like this, it will be decided through the one-on-one battles. When you defend on turf like this, you can’t let the ball bounce.” And, for the second game in a row, keeper Rein Baart looked like a sore spot rather than a veteran European keeper who is supposed to bring stability to the team. Against Toronto, Baart’s miskick led to an easy goal for Maicon Santos. Today, he flapped at corners, had more miskick adventures and misjudged a long punt of a ball that he allowed to bounce over his head and go just inches wide. Baart’s misery was compounded when, with 10 minutes left to go, he was sent off for raking his cleats across Kreamalmayer’s chest. Chris Lemire was sent off for protesting the call. With three subs already made, midfielder Kyle Yamada had to go in goal — and surrendered the ensuing penalty-kick goal to Nevio Pizzolitto and a fifth insult-to-injury marker to Idriss Ech Chergui. With the suspension, former Chivas USA back-up Lance Parker will get his chance. And, maybe, the card saved Sinkgraven from having to yank Baart. For Dos Santos and the Impact, the win allows them to wipe away the feeling of going winless in their first three NASL games, scoring only once in the process. “This team is a good team,” said Dos Santos. “We didn’t start well, we had some trouble with injuries, some players who didn’t get their ITCs. But this game is going to let people know that the Impact is going back to where it belongs. We are a team that wants to go forward, we want to win.” Ironically, Sinkgraven thought that, for a lot of the game, FCE was the better passing side than Montreal. “Soccer wise, I thought we were better than the opponent. We showed how we could play together. But we are simply so nice on defence.” Downs said he was impressed by the atmosphere at Foote Field. “I have seen all four of this team’s (FCE) games; tonight was a bit of an aberration,” he said. “But I liked what I saw here tonight. One stand was full, and the other was nearly full. It was a nice atmosphere.” Foote Field holds 3,500.