FC Edmonton 0 – Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2
Location: Clarke Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)
Formations: EDM: 4-1-4-1 ; FTL: 4-2-3-1
EDM – (M) Nyassi for (M) Corea 63’, (M) Raudales for (M) de Freitas 63’, (D) Boaki for (M) Smith 70’
FTL – (F) Sanchez for (F) Ramirez 71’, (M) Chin for (M) Gabriel 78’, (F) Bruno for (F) Stefano 86’
59′ – Stefano Pinho – Penalty Kick (FTL)
86’ – Stefano Pinho – Assist by Chin (FTL)
- Neither team is certain to make the playoffs, but they both find themselves in serious contention, thanks to the plummeting Rowdies.
- Edmonton has to find a way to score outside of Lance Laing. When the Jamaican star was away on international duty, many players like Ameobi were able to step up, but have since fallen into obscurity.
- Do not expect to see large crowds on Sunday afternoon games in any place, let alone a Clarke Stadium. The turnout was decent with some support from the devoted ESG, but casual fans simply didn’t come out despite the beautiful weather.
- The Strange Disappearance of John Smits – One heralded as the best keeper in the league in 2014, he’s barely cracked the starting lineup this year. He is now listed as 3rd on the team’s depth chart behind Matt VanOekel.
- The Diving Skills of PC and Ramirez – Both players have learned the art of “simulation” without getting penalized. Their strength at playing to the sympathies of the referee has paid off. Hate it as much as you like, but it’s working for them and has helped their team surge into 5th place overall.
- Defender Frankie Sanfilippo – The former Rowdies captain has logged every single minute of the season for the Strikers, solidifying a very good defense.
- The Return of Shawn Chin – One of the few remaining stars from last year, Chin has struggled with injury and playing out of his natural position. Now that he is both healthy and back in the middle, his impact has been very strong.
- Tyson Farago – Somehow the third string keeper has worked his way into the starting lineup against 2014 Golden Glove keeper John Smits, and former MNUFC stalwart Matt VanOekel
- The Montons’ Defense – Tiago de Freitas gave up a head scratcher of a turnover right outside the box, causing Moses to throw an off-balance leg out, which Stefano happily dove over – earning him a penalty kick. The aforementioned Moses was caught out of position several times, eventually leading to another score.
- Possession – The Strikers absolutely dominated the first half with over 60%, and the Eddies gave the ball up repeatedly, killing attacks and giving dangerous opportunities to Ft. Lauderdale.
- The field turf – For some reason both teams struggled to control the ball, and underestimated the speed of passes. Strangely, Ft. Lauderdale was the first to finally figure it out, and was able to make the most of their opportunities.
- The Eddies’ Scoring – It appears everyone has figured out the Montons’ plan of attack consists of booting it up to Ameobi or Lang and waiting for them to pull off a miracle. It didn’t pan out this time.
You Won’t See On The Highlights:
- The Value of Gunter Kronsteiner – Nothing has turned around Ft. Lauderdale’s fortunes more than the mid-season return of last year’s coach. Despite his scathing post-game statements about ownership, he has produced enough wins to keep his job
- A beautiful save from Edmonton keeper Tyson Farago in the 72nd minute that denied Danny Sanchez a great scoring opportunity on a volley. His play despite the two goals (one as a result of a very weak penalty) was very good, and appears to have earned him the starting role.
- The U8-like scrum outside the Ft. Lauderdale box only a few minutes earlier, that had four shots from different Eddies on goal, only to result in a weak dribbler to keeper Ford, after Ameobi and Lange both swing for it at the same time and missed.
- Two of the best keepers in the NASL on the same roster, now on the bench – Despite the 2014 Golden Glove, John Smits has been missing in action, giving way to Matt VanOekel, and now Tyson Farago. Eddies fans have to be scratching their heads at why these two players are now languishing at the bottom of the depth chart – and if there was doubt early on, why they weren’t traded for value to another team.
- The Strikers are better than anyone expected, and the Montons are more vulnerable than anyone expected. The two teams are tied for 5th and 6th place at 24 points, with the Strikers in the lead with a +1 goal differential and a game in pocket.
- The race for the final playoff spot is very tight. While Tampa Bay currently holds the position with 26 points, they face Ottawa this weekend, followed by New York, and the still dangerous Eddies the next. Atlanta somehow remains within striking distance at 23 points, and Carolina, Indy, and Jacksonville trail at only 22 points.