Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Laing haunts old team as FCE climbs the standings

Laing haunts old team as FCE climbs the standings


All in all, it was a pretty good day at the office for FC Edmonton left winger Lance Laing.

Set up a goal against your former team? Check.

Score a goal against your former team? Check.

Sneak in a smooch with your fiancée after scoring? Check.

Run the opposing fullback into the ground? Check.

Laing was clearly the focus as the Eddies thrilled the home supporters Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The win puts Edmonton just four points back of Carolina in the overall standings; the RailHawks currently hold down the fourth and final playoff spot. The result also vaulted FCE into fourth in the NASL fall standings.

And a big part of the FCE renaissance has been the decision to move Laing from left back to the left side of midfield. What started as an experiment at the end of the spring season may be the coaching decision that might just turn around a season. The change in FCE’s offensive output has been that dramatic since Laing has taken a bigger role in creating and taking chances.

“The change from fullback to midfield, it’s been good for me,” said Laing. “I am really enjoying my football.”

On Sunday, he had a victim that was ripe for the picking. Fort Lauderdale coach Gunter Kronsteiner was forced to start a makeshift lineup, due to suspensions, injuries and visa issues — with some of his players not being eligible to work in Canada. The biggest issue was at right back, where Darryl Gordon made his first start of the season. Gordon was absolutely worked by Laing all game long. And, with a thin bench, Kronsteiner couldn’t offer his novice fullback any help.

Kronsteiner said he knew the match-up with Laing — a former Striker — would be an issue even as his team was making the northwestern journey to Edmonton. He said he knew it would be a critical match-up. And, in the end, it wasn’t close.

As the first half went on, Laing was able to isolate Gordon and get past the fullback. On one occasion, Laing’s cross drew a handball call against defender Rafael Alves. (That was one of 13 cards handed out by referee Sheena Dickson; more on that later). Then, Laing showed off both his athleticism and his smarts. After taking an outlet pass from defender Beto Navarro, Laing held the ball at his feet as he walked up the wing, begging for Gordon to dive in. Gordon obliged, and then Laing turned on the jets and pushed the ball past the fullback. But the Strikers had Alves, six-foot-three, and six-foot-five Stefan Antonijevic as the centre backs. Crosses in the air would be pointless. So, he sent a low, bouncing ball into the top of the box, where Ritchie Jones met it with a perfect side-footed effort.

When asked if he relished the chance to play against Gordon, he responded with confidence.

“To tell you the truth, I feel that’s I’ve played good against a lot of different fullbacks this season.”

In the second half, Laing was able to find space on the left side, then settled down a high cross and picked the far corner of the Strikers goal with his low shot. After the ball nestled into the goal, Laing dashed to the sideline to give his fiancee a kiss.

At 2-0, the game should have been killed. But, with less than 10 minutes left, Kronsteiner rolled the dice, moved men into the attack and pushed Alves into a centre forward position. The pressure was rewarded when FCE fullback Edson Edward was given a yellow card and a penalty kick was awarded; Dickson felt that Edward had pulled back Pecka in the box. Aly Hassan, also making his first start of the year, buried the penalty and it was game on.

It got even more nervous for the Eddies when Neil Hlavaty got his second yellow for an intentional handball — and the home side had to hang on with 10 men.

“We should have had them buried,” said FCE coach Colin Miller. “But we imploded at the end, with some criminal mistakes… Still, it was a great all-around effort, a massive result for us.”

And, despite the late pressure, Kronsteiner agreed that FCE deserved the full three points.

Hlavaty’s sending off represented the 13th card Dickson showed in the game (nine of them to the Eddies). Hlavaty’s first card came as the result of arguing with Dickson; and that was the case for many of the cards. More cards were shown for dissent than for actual fouls.

Hlavaty will miss next week’s game with Minnesota. But, with two wins in a row and a new burst of confidence, this Eddies team feels a whole lot different than the one we saw in the spring. They score. They create chances. And, we can say that the Eddies can boast the best left-sided player in the league.

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  1. Flips

    August 28, 2014 at 4:13 am

    Talked with Rod on Wednesday. He said announced attendance is total ticket sales. Often don’t know the actual gate until the next day. Common practice in most sports.

    • Steven Sandor

      August 28, 2014 at 5:19 am

      Absolutely. In truth, there is no such things as a 100 per cent full stadium or arena. There are always no-shows.

  2. footy

    August 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    What’s happened with Gareth? I missed him. Also, can you ask Gene to actually do the play-by-play?

    • Steven Sandor

      August 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Gareth was in the UK last week with his family. He’ll be back this week. Gene came in to help out — I go back a long way with him, was good to have him aboard for a broadcast.

  3. Soccerfan

    August 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Nice job, nothing negative to say. Props are due. Well done.

    Hey steve, in your professional opinion, how many fans were at the game? I watched the game on tv. I saw on the NASL website, they list 3100 but there was no way in hell that many fans were at the game. I estimate 1300.

    You were there, Steve, what was the actual attendance?

    • Steven Sandor

      August 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Usually the original stand, the one on the camera side (and usually not shot) is fairly full. Would only call it two-thirds full on Sunday.

  4. left back

    August 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Watched the game on NASL.com last night and ya.. was a great game. Actually wished i was in the stands for this one as the game had an edge to it. FCE looked organized and are starting to show real signs of being dangerous around net. Good for them. I hope they can continue this good run.

    One thing i didn’t like… was the fact the both you (steven) and ‘mean’ Gene Principe really focused on L Laing and him getting the better of Gordon from Ft L. Yes Laing played well and was getting down the line a lot but it was stressed over and over again. I feel bad if Gordon had any family members or friends listening to the feed. No one needs to be called out like that. The question to the coach of Ft. Lauderdale at half, this article you just wrote and plenty of the commentary focused on Laing outplaying Gordon…. no one needs to be singled out like that. There are 22 players on the field and Ft. L’s defence didn’t do Gordon any favours. Anyway… i thought that was a little un professional.

    More random thoughts about FCE… looks like all our local boys are getting lost in the shuffle. The 3 developmental players that were brought through… Edem, Sadi and Hanson are nowhere to be seen. CM claims to promote local players but they have played such a small part this season. Makes you wonder if this set up is good for our local boys….. Sheena should not be on the park… she lost the plot in the first 5 minutes and had trouble handling the players… Albert Watson should be in line for a move to MLS… he rarely puts a foot wrong… Big Frank Jonke is having a tough go this season.. i thought he would be a real asset for FCE but has struggled to score and get playing time… last thought… i had to laugh when the coach of Ft. L said that some of his players could get into Canada because of visa problems… ?? Are those players working illegally in the States or are not allowed to travel outside the US… ??? would you sign a player if he can’t make a really important road trip?… anyway…..

    great result FCE…. looking forward to what happens next.

    • Steven Sandor

      August 25, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      To be fair, FCE have had players who have had Visa issues in the past. Both Yashir Pinto and Mallan Roberts have had issues in travelling to the USA in the past. Countries can be awfully slow in approving visas for travelling workers. In Pinto’s case, because some of his family were from Palestine, the U.S. government really slowed down his application.

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