On paper, Wednesday’s Voyageurs Cup matchup is just a mere formality. FC Edmonton comes into the second and final leg of the preliminary round with a 3-1 lead after last weeks win in Ottawa (and yes, the away goals rule does factor in this competition). When combined with Edmonton’s stellar home record of late, unbeaten in nine, this really feels like it’s in the bag for the Eddies.
However, Colin Miller refuses to let his team get comfortable and rightly so. We’ve seen what can happen when his squad gets too relaxed and loses focus this season. They gave up three goals in Jacksonville’s first ever competitive half of soccer, almost went down just as fast in home matches to Carolina and Fort Lauderdale, and once again gave up a first minute goal to Ottawa in last weeks game. The only thing that has salvaged any results for the Eddies has been Miller’s choices in substitutions and some late game heroics typically coming from either Lance Laing or Sainey Nyassi. It really has been a dangerous game FC Edmonton has been playing so far in 2015.
Wednesday offers the Eddies a unique opportunity to help straighten things out. Miller will force his team to play an intense game in a situation where others would be playing bench players and parking the bus in front of the net. Thanks to the league schedule which gave Edmonton a bye between preliminary round matches and a home date against a winless Minnesota side later in the weekend, it allows Miller to continue to roll with many of his first choice starters. Should Edmonton make is past Ottawa, it forces Colin Miller to get more creative with his bench, but that’s a conversation to be made this time next week.
This match should provide less fireworks that the first leg. It’s a game that forces Edmonton to prove themselves defensively while Ottawa is playing their 3rd game in a week and should be trying to save themselves for league play if they want to take a run at the playoffs. Edmonton missed the playoffs last season by three points and it could be argued that prioritizing their Voyageurs Cup matches cost them the fourth and final playoff spot. Marc Dos Santos is also suspended for this match after last weeks altercation with Lance Laing and the referees, which will take away some passion to this matchup. Regardless of who wins this match, they will be in tough against an extremely strong Vancouver Whitecaps side that is in first place in MLS so far.
Photo courtesy of FC Edmonton.