Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Johann Smith had to keep his FC Edmonton contract a secret

Johann Smith had to keep his FC Edmonton contract a secret

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Five years ago, after parting ways with Toronto FC, American Johann Smith was with Croatian side, HNK Rijeka.

In his first training session, the former Bolton Wanderers youth team prospect learned a lot about the importance of keeping the ball. In Croatia, far more emphasis was put on keeping the ball than in North America. He was in Croatia from 2009-10, and he said that it was there where he really grew as a played.

“It was my first day, and we did five v. two for an hour,” says Smith, the forward/left winger whose FC Edmonton deal was made official on Tuesday. “I think for 45 minutes out of that hour I was in the middle.”

The Croats emphasized keeping the ball and moving the ball. Smith always had the athleticism; growing up in Connecticut he was a high-school track phenom. And Toronto FC fans will remember him best for his blistering pace, though he didn’t score an MLS goal for the team in 14 appearances.

From Croatia, Smith went on to play in Sweden, Finland and Australia. But he always wanted to return to North America. Even though the Eddies don’t play in the United States, he continually referred to coming back “home.”

“I have been wanting to come back home for a while. I Europe, you’re always seen as a foreigner, you’re always against the numbers. The odds are always against you. And I think coming here is a good way to show myself to MLS, NASL and the U.S. Soccer Federation, to show them what I can do.”

Even though the deal was announced on Tuesday, it was signed well before the Eddies left for their three-week Florida-based portion of their training camp. (The Eddies’ last day in Edmonton was last Friday). But, paperwork in the soccer world can move so darn slow, so the deal couldn’t be made official till after the team had left for the United States.

So, Smith had to tell almost everyone who knew him that he was still a “trialist” when he’d already signed the deal.

“It was great to sign and I had keep it quiet. I told one or two family members, one or two friends, but that was it. That’s because I know that nothing in for sure, not just in soccer, but in life.”

The Eddies confirmed that there are no trialists in camp with the club at the moment. Everyone with the Eddies in Florida is under contract to the club. Former Whitecaps Residency product Sebastian Cabrera was released from FCE camp last Friday.


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