Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton U.S. Open Cup could have major implications for FC Edmonton’s NASL fortunes

U.S. Open Cup could have major implications for FC Edmonton’s NASL fortunes

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FC Edmonton will be cheering for its six fellow NASL teams as they enter the U.S. Open Cup competition next week.

And it’s not just because it will be good for the profile of NASL if the second-division teams can claim the scalps of a few MLS teams along the way. The main reason? Because, the longer their fellow teams last in the USOC, the more congested their fixture lists become. And the more congested their schedules become, the better it is for FCE, who finished Amway Canadian Championship play in early May and have no more out-of-league commitments.

Case in point: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers. They play at San Antonio this weekend, while the Eddies have a bye. Then, on the 21st, the Strikers host the Laredo Heat in USOC play. Then, on the 26th, they make the long trip to Alberta to face Edmonton. If the Strikers beat Laredo, they will have to face FC Dallas just two days after their game in Alberta.

So, if the Strikers win against Laredo, there’s a chance that coach Daryl Shore may need to rotate his squad for the FC Edmonton game — as you can’t see the Strikers using depth players in a spotlight match against an MLS side.

And, for FCE, a team that’s currently just three points off the top of the NASL spring-season table, Fort Lauderdale’s problem is just fine with it.

“They are just coming into their part of the season like the spell we just finished,” said FCE coach Colin Miller. “We want the NASL teams to do well, to beat their opposition. But, those other NASL teams don’t pay my wages. I’m only interested in what’s best for FC Edmonton.”

Of course, that “spell” Miller is referring to was a point where FCE had to play five times in just a little over two weeks when it was juggling NASL and Amway Canadian Championship commitments in late April and early May. The Eddies had a point in the schedule where they had games in three different time zones over the course of six days.

Now, the Eddies will go into the May 26 game with two weeks rest, while the Strikers could potentially be in a hellish part of their schedule.

And, the Eddies will likely have captain Albert Watson back in the fold. The former Northern Irish U-21 captain got the green light to resume full training and was on the Clarke Stadium pitch, Thursday. Watson tore the MCL in his right knee during training camp.

“It’s massive for us,” said Miller. “I got the email from Albert last night saying he got the all clear. I could hear that smile within the email. He brings us a wealth of experience at the international and club level.”

“I am going to keep positive,” said Watson. “I will train for six or seven days and then we’ll see where I am.”

And, while Watson has been pleased with what he’s seen out of FCE while he’s been on the sidelines, he thinks there is more juice in the orange.

“We have eight or nine new players in the lineup and it takes time to refine the finer points of the game,” said Watson. “And I don’t mean this as any insult to the guys, but I think we have the potential to be a lot better than we’ve shown. I see they guys and I think they have so much potential.”

And, with the Eddies currently in the chase for the top spot in the spring season, which earns home-field advantage in the Soccer Bowl, unleashing that potential could be the key to a very special turnaround year under Miller.

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