FC Edmonton changes on and off the field in preparation for 2014 NASL season
Friday, Apr 11, 2014 09:45 am
After almost a year and a half on the job, head coach Colin Miller says the framework of FC Edmonton is where he wants it.
The former Canadian international spent much of last season organizing the North American Soccer League club. He has added nine new players in the off-season and seen the club reshaped off the field.
"It's much more my group, if you like," said Miller. "I inherited some situations that needed sorting in Edmonton, on the field and off the field.
"We've now changed the structure of the club ... from general manager across to myself, all the way through, people are answerable for their decisions. It's run the way a professional club should be in all honesty.
"We've got an academy which is doing well, a technical staff that's very loyal and hard-working and everybody enjoys their work. .... Hopefully we'll see the benefits of that."
The Eddies open Saturday in Tampa against the Rowdies.
Edmonton finished with a combined 6-8-12 record last year, placing fifth in the spring season and sixth in the fall campaign. The team finished with 26 goals for and 26 against.
Miller took some criticism for releasing some local products, arguing in response that he didn't feel they were "ready for the level that I wanted to take the team to."
"So there were some difficult decisions to be made. Not the most popular at that time but I think we've proven the players we brought in have more than answered the bell."
The team still boasts Alberta talent but most players have come through the club ranks.
Miller says the 2014 Eddies have more maturity, with experience that stretches to the bench.
Edmonton also has size up front in Canada's Frank Jonke and England's Tomi Ameobi.
The six-foot-three Ameobi comes from a soccer family with brothers Shola (Newcastle, Stoke) and Sammy (Newcastle, Middlesbrough) both making names for themselves.
"He's doing very well," said Miller. "He's an absolute gentleman and really enjoying his football."
Jonke is a six-foot-four physical specimen whom Miller brought into the Canada camp during his stint as acting manager in 2013.
"There won't be many centre-backs enjoying playing against those two big lads," said Miller.
Milton Blanco, who has MLS experience with Chivas USA and Columbus, Ritchie Jones, who came through the Manchester United system, and Mike Banner, who played with Jonke at Finland's FF Jaro, add midfield savvy.
"He's as smooth as silk, box to box. Has real good qualities," Miller said of Jones. "You don't survive at Manchester United for 12 years, regardless if it's the youth ranks, if you don't have something to offer."
Canadian talent other than Jonke includes 25-year-old right back Eddie Edward, 21-year-old defender Mallan Roberts, 17-year-old midfielder Hanson Boakai, 20-year-old midfielder Edem Mortotsi and 18-year-old forward Sadi Jalali.
Owned by brothers Tom and Dave Fath, FC Edmonton plays at Clarke Stadium.
Tampa, meanwhile, boasts former MLS goalkeeper Matt Pickens and NASL 2013 Golden Boot winner Brian Shriver as well as former Toronto FC midfielder Darel Russell.
The Rowdies are also home to 36-year-old striker Carl Cort, who spent five years with Newcastle of the English Premier League after joining the famous club on a seven-million-pound transfer fee.