Miller says continuity is important for FC Edmonton By Steven Sandor Posted on February 7, 2017 0 0 606 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter FCE's Jake Keegan in action against the Ottawa Fury. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS The Eddies announced the re-signings of four players: Forward Jake Keegan and defenders Marko Aleksic, Shawn Nicklaw and Karsten Smith. Nicklaw took over as a starting fullback for the Eddies after he was acquired in 2016 from the Jacksonville Armada in a trade that saw striker Jason Plumhoff go the other way (ironically, the Armada announced Tuesday that the club and Plumhoff had parted ways). Nicklaw took over the right back role from Eddie Edward, who was traded to Ottawa after the spring seasons for personal reasons. Smith and Aleksic were depth players in 2016, while Keegan scored five times last season. With the departure of Eddies’ all-time leading scorer Daryl Fordyce for FC Cincinnati of the USL, there is an opportunity for Keegan to have more of a role in FCE’s offence this year. With Tuesday’s announcement, the Eddies have 14 returning players on their roster. Coach Colin Miller said three or four new players will be announced soon. But, for a team that got to the NASL semifinal stage in 2016, and boasted the league’s stingiest defence, returning a lot of players is key. “I believe that continuity is massive,” said Miller. “I see some teams in North America that throw a hand grenade to their rosters every season. We are not going to look at changing over 15 or 16 players. The lads who are returning did well for us last year.” Of course, any discussion about continuity has to include a question about the status of captain Albert Watson and Pape Diakite. The central defensive duo were a major part of the Eddies’ record-breaking defensive mark last season, which saw the team give up just 21 goals in 32 regular-season games. “They were arguably the best at what they did in the league last season,” said Miller, who said an announcement on the duo is expected in the next few days. He said he’s feeling “optimistic” when it comes to the two players. Miller said with a lot of returning players and a few new faces, “the expectation is that we go even further this season.” So, that would mean a trip to the NASL Championship game. The team will go into the season as one of the favourites for the league. Of course, that will mean navigating a brutal road schedule. The Eddies travel more kilometres than any other pro team in North America, and in September they will endure a one-week, three-game stretch that will see them go from Edmonton to Puerto Rico to San Francisco, 11,400 km in less than a week. “I’ll be living out of a bag again, I can’t wait,” said Miller. “In fairness to our players, they just get on with it.” Goalkeepers Tyson Farago, Nathan Ingham Defenders Allan Zebie, Marko Aleksic, Shawn Nicklaw, Karsten Smith Midfielders Pedro Galvao, Ben Fisk, Nik Ledgerwood, Nico Di Biase (I), Dustin Corea, Sainey Nyassi Forwards Tomi Ameobi (I), Jake Keegan (“I“ represents an international roster spot. The Eddies, like all NASL teams, are allowed a maximum of seven).