Sunday afternoon marked the start of the 2015 Flyover Cup between FC Edmonton and Minnesota United. With the announcement of Minnesota is being ‘promoted’ to MLS in two or three years, it might be easy to suggest a little bit might be lost in this little rivalry. Not only is Minnesota looking ahead to bigger and potentially better things, Edmonton has found a more natural rival with Ottawa that seems to be more enticing for fans than the Flyover Cup ever was. Sunday proved that there certainly is no love lost between the two sides and that the Flyover Cup is still very much alive and kicking.
This weekend started the toughest stretch of the Eddies season. With a couple of Voyageurs Cup matches against Vancouver and a trip to New York to face the Cosmos sandwiched between, the game against Minnesota was as close to a gimme as the Eddies were going to have in the next couple weeks. Colin Miller wisely elected to use the starting eleven that has been playing very well over the last few matches and for the most part, they did well again.
However, another very early goal was surrendered (no, I did not cut-paste that line, but certainly could have) after the typically strong and steady Eddie Edward slipped on the wet surface and allowed Pablo Campos to jump on a loose ball and send US International Miguel Ibarra in the score for the visitors. As amazing and consistent as Edward has been for Edmonton, it’s easy to let it slide. It was good on Minnesota to jump on that misplay and make it count, as good teams often will.
The game managed to settle down and Edmonton was the stronger team for the rest of the half despite going into the break down a goal. It’s worth noting that referee Geoff Gamble whistled the half shortly after an Edmonton corner kick. That’s a major faux pas, and is even made clear in Refereeing 101. It wasn’t Gamble’s first questionable call that afternoon.
Edmonton would start the second half as strong as they ended the first. In the 51st minute, Edward was fouled deep in the Minnesota end. That set up Lance Laing to convert a 22 yard free kick that should be up for play of the week. Later in the half, Laing was sent speeding down the left side of the pitch and crossed it to a sliding Ameobi to take the lead. This really was looking like a game we had already seen a few times before this season.
Then it turned into the Geoff Gamble show. In the 84th minute, Michael Nonni made a very clean tackle inside Edmonton’s penalty area. Gamble promptly pointed to the spot and for some reason gave Daryl Fordyce a red card. Minnesota ended up scoring on the ensuing penalty and then things got a little heated. Matt Van Oekel got into a pushing match with a few of his ex-teammates trying to recover the ball. Pablo Campos then jumped in and somehow seemed to violently fall after the Edmonton ‘keeper brushed his shirt. It’s ridiculous for a guy of Campos’ size to fall down so easily so often at this level. It’s been such a regular occurrence over the past five years that the league really should look and fining him for these acts.
Edmonton played the rest of the game down a man. Minnesota managed to dominate possession but couldn’t generate anything real threatening. As Gamble was quite eager to blow the whistle to end the first half, it had seemed that he had lost his whistle to end the game. Thankfully he did eventually stop the madness and prevent himself from further dictating the score.
The Eddies Captain Albert Watson did get injured in the second half. To see the teams only experienced centre back go down was a nightmare to FC Edmonton fans. It appears as though it isn’t a serious injury and hopefully he doesn’t miss much, if any time for Edmonton. During the game Moses moved to the middle and Academy product Allan Zebie made his professional debut. The patchwork backline managed to hold on and prevent any legitimate Minnesota chances outside of that terrible PK call. If Watson is out long term, it could expose a weakness of depth on the backline.
Photo courtesy of FC Edmonton.