Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Super saves from stellar Smits allow 10-man FCE to get a point

Super saves from stellar Smits allow 10-man FCE to get a point


There is no goalkeeping controversy at FC Edmonton.

After John Smits put in a man-of-the-match performance Sunday, allowing 10-man FC Edmonton to escape its home date against the Tampa Bay Rowdies with a 0-0 draw, coach Colin Miller that Lance Parker is in no danger of losing his No. 1 job.

“I thought that Smits did fine, but Lance Parker is still our number one,” Miller said after the match, which leaves Edmonton four points off the first-place Atlanta Silverbacks in the NASL spring-season race.

Smits came in last week after Parker got red carded, and he made a penalty save and a point-blank stop before being beaten on Fort Lauderdale’s second chance from the spot. On Sunday, with Parker suspended, Smits was the game’s highlight reel, with several excellent stops.

Like a humble hockey goalie, Smits gave his credit to his team.

“I thought they did an excellent job,” said Smits, “The work ethic was definitely there.”

Miller was frustrated that young central defender Mallan Roberts picked up a second yellow early in the second half for a late aerial challenge on the Rowdies’ Keith Savage.

“It was a silly foul,” said Miller. “There was no need to do it.”

Roberts was on the Rowdies side of half, 60 yards from his own goal when he went in late on Savage. And the foul came just a minute or two after he was singled out for a hard foul in his own area. And, like so many two-yellow situations, you look not only at the second infraction, but the first. Roberts’ first yellow came in the Tampa Bay area, when he was whistled for fouling Rowdie Takuya Yamada on a set piece. Two fouls that came far, far away from his own goal, and the young defender was off.

Roberts was playing in place of injured regular Carlyle Mitchell.

FCE's Chris Nurse, left, battles Tampa Bay's Shane Hill. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS
FCE’s Chris Nurse, left, battles Tampa Bay’s Shane Hill. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

“We know we can compete with anyone in the league, but we have to keep 11 players on the park,” said Miller. “Tampa Bay is a very good side, well organized. But we have the best defensive record in the league. We just need to play with 11 men.”

And, with the man advantage, Tampa was able to keep the ball and not suffer the effects of playing last Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup.

Crews worked to clear the turf at Clarke Stadium, as torrential downpours had left standing water on the pitch an hour before kickoff. Though the rains let off at kickoff, the pitch was still slick.

Tampa kept a compact back line, limiting the influence of FCE’s striker Michael Cox. Though no Rowdie defender is as big as Cox, they worked as a committee, surrounding the striker and not allowing him space. He was really only able to create one chance in the first half, winning a ball in front of Yamada and then spreading the ball to the left side of the area, where Shaun Saiko’s one time chance was parried away by Tampa keeper Diego Restrepo.

Tampa, though, had two great chances before half. Canadian defender Andres Arango’s shot from the top of the box was deflected by FCE’s Chris Nurse, forcing Smits into a diving reaction stop. Then, on a corner, Georgi Hristov turned the ball towards goal, forcing Smits to fall to his knees, butterfly style, to stop the shot on the line.

Smits’ magic continued into the second half. Off a free kick, Luke Mulholland laid the ball off to Shane Hill at the top of the box. His low shot was labelled for just inside the left post, but Smits dove and got his palm to the ball. Rowdie Jordan Gafa got to the rebound, but was in an offside position.

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  1. footy

    June 3, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Good question. Miller focusses on defense rather than attack. Just count the players, you got 4 defenders, 3 defensive mids, one attacking mid (Saiko) and 2 strikers. Ok the fullbacks are supposed to help in attack as well, but that compensates for the very defensive midfield. Only 3 players of the team are designated to the attack.

    You can easily compare it with TFC, where Nelsen also loves his defense. But even in Toronto they played last game with Silva AND Osorio on the midfield and that does make a difference.

    Now I can understand how that is a gameplan. But what I don’t understand why Miller didn’t go for a win in front of the home crowd. Instead of dropping deep and hoping for a speedy counter after the redcarding, he took off the fastest player of Edmonton to bring another defender. I honestly think that is a rookie mistake. And I also don’t get why he didn’t put some fresh legs on, even if it was a midfielder for a midfielder or an attacker for another attacker. Getting single points at home isn’t going to make it.

  2. Jamonty

    June 3, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Facetious answer: because Canadians only know how to score with a stick on the ice.
    Suspected answer: FCE lacks a cherry picker, the guy that has a nose for the net and scores, beauties or uglies.
    Probable answer: tactics and strategies in the final third are still on the drawing board… Miller came to FCE with a defensive pedigree – rebranded his back line, secured defensive mid with Hlavaty & Nurse and, with exception of Fordyce, added no new creativity to the frontal attack. In my view, Laing & Edward have been the offensive surprises and, last I checked, they were fullbacks.

  3. Soccerpro

    June 3, 2013 at 1:39 am

    WHy does FCE have so much trouble scoring? Is it mostly due to their ejections or is there another reason?

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