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Watson: For FC Edmonton, nothing less than a championship will do

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Albert Watson says that, unlike last season, FC Edmonton will not surprise any of their NASL opponents in 2017.

And, though he had a couple of other offers out there, he said returning to the Eddies for the coming season “seemed right.” The team announced Monday that their Northern Ireland-born captain would be back for the upcoming campaign.

“It was tough in the off-season, watching the situation with the whole the league, with FC Edmonton,” said Watson of the December-January negotiations and deal-making that ended up preserving NASL as a division-two league in North America. “I had a few options, but it was a big positive the way it worked out. It seemed right to come back. It seemed right to try and go further this year, and win a championship.”

As well, he said that his family is settled in Edmonton. His daughter was born in nearby St. Albert.

Watson admitted that it was tough to see his close friend Daryl Fordyce choose to leave the Eddies and sign with FC Cincinnati of the USL. The two arrived in Edmonton together from Northern Ireland in 2013. The so-called “Belfast Boys” won’t be wearing the same colours in 2017.

“It was difficult, obviously,” said Watson. “He’s one of my best friends. Our wives are close. I knew it was a decision that he didn’t take lightly.”

Last year, an FC Edmonton team that was pretty well nobody’s pick in the preseason set a league record for fewest goals conceded (just 21 in 32 games) and got to the semifinals, where the Eddies were eliminated by the Indy Eleven. Watson said that the Eddies will not be a shock team to anyone in 2017, but the expectations are there.

“This year, everybody knows where the bar is,” he said.

And, Watson hopes by the summer that he no longer takes up one of the seven international slots on the FC Edmonton roster. He said the applications for he and his wife for Canadians Permanent Resident cards are in.

“Hopefully by the summer we’ll have good news to the announce, hopefully sooner,” he said.

And, as someone on the path to Canadian citizenship, Watson said he was thrilled to hear about NASL’s decision to treat Canadians as domestics league wide. Before 2017, Americans were allowed to have domestic status on both Canadians and American NASL teams, but Canadians could only be domestics on Canadian sides.

But Watson said “the league has shown some common sense” in making the move. He said that this was an issue that players had brought up to former commissioner Bill Peterson — why Americans could be domestic in Canada, but Canadians couldn’t be domestic in America.

“The move will only help to improve Canadian soccer,” said Watson.


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