FC Edmonton 2015 Team Preview

The 2015 is a season with a lot of promise for FC Edmonton. After a late season push for a playoff spot, the Eddies managed to put together their best season statistically in the NASL. With head coach Colin Miller keeping the core of this roster intact, there should be continued growth with this team and hopefully a climb up the standings. FC Edmonton has been a revolving door for players since they formed in 2010, but with some roster consistency for the first time it’s easy for Eddies fans to be excited for the upcoming season.

 

Goalkeepers

Matt Van Oekel – Probably the biggest offseason signing for FC Edmonton. Most fans of the team probably expected a tandem of Smits and Farago for the upcoming season after their solid performances in 2014. FC Edmonton would have probably had some success rolling with the two young keepers, but signing Van Oekel was probably one of the best and safest moves for this team to make. The casual observer can see this as a snub to Smits and the other young keepers on this roster, but it should be a move that helps more than anything. A keeper that has a lot of experience and success in this league will be an example for the others to follow. His ability to distribute the ball and command the backline will heavily relied upon for 2015.

John Smits – A series of injuries to the departed Lance Parker last season allowed Smits to come off the bench and realize the potential he has shown since signing with the team in 2012. Not only did he prove he could carry the load, but he did so in spectacular fashion in winning the Golden Glove which is awarded to the keeper with the lowest goals against average. Sharing the net with Van Oekel should further aid his development and hopefully get on the radar for the Canadian men’s national team.

Tyson Farago – Tyson was signed prior to 2014 as a long term project. While he still lacks in the experience department, he had a significant season in adjusting to the professional game. Farago made one start in 2014, but looked impressive and was named to the NASL Team of the Week. 2015 will be another season for developing behind Van Oekel and Smits that will likely be light on first team minutes.

Christian Kaiswatum – Kaiswatum is an Academy product that will likely split minutes on the reserve side with Farago. He has represented Canada at the U17 level and has long term potential as well but will likely not dress for the first team in 2015.

 

Defenders

Albert Watson – One of Miller’s first signings in 2013, Watson has quickly emerged as one of the best center backs in the league as was named to the NASL Team of the Year in his first season here. 2014 was also a great year for the Northern Irishman as he led the team to their best ever Voyageurs Cup result and an impressive playoff push in the fall season. His leadership on the field has been very important to the club as well. Roberts, Moses and Aleksic have all benefitted from playing alongside Watson as he has shown a commitment to help develop the younger players. Named one of the players to watch in 2015 by the league, he’ll once again be the leader of one of the best backlines in the league.

Eddie Edward –Since signing with the team prior to the 2013 season, he has been an anchor at right back and has even been capable in playing a defensive midfield role when called upon. His experience and versatility are an asset to a team filled with younger players.

Mallan Roberts – Mallan was one of the first Academy signings and is on the verge of being a regular starter for FC Edmonton. He has shown to have all the tools to be a premier center back in this league but has had issues with his aggressiveness. Since being paired with Watson, Roberts has shown tremendous growth in his game.  In letting Beto Navarro go and not signing a replacement center back shows where the team stands with Mallan. After getting his Canadian citizenship in the offseason, a strong season could put him on the radar for the Canadian team.

Kareem Moses – Initially brought in for depth and versatility on the back line, Moses has established himself as a quality left back after Laing was moved to the midfield. Last season saw him get bounced between left and center back due to injuries and he proved to be solid at both positions. Expect Kareem to get the bulk of his starts on the left side, but he may get shifted to the middle if injuries become a problem.

Michael Nonni – Listed as a defender, Nonni has probably made the most impact for the team playing in the midfield. Eddies fans will remember him for scoring one of the biggest goals in team history. His goal against the Impact was a showcase of his speed and was one of the reasons why the team was content to let go of Horace James. Nonni will probably be one of Miller’s most interesting subs in 2015 and could come on the field in any position in any situation.

Johann Smith – The newest signing comes in after a preseason trial. A speedster who has spent time in MLS, Smith should be able to fill a number of positions either as a sub or if injuries become an issue. His speed will likely cause a number of teams trouble down the wing.

Marko Aleksic – Marko is an Academy product that is overflowing with potential. At only 18, he already possesses all the physical tools to be an elite center back. In 2014, Aleksic only saw a couple of appearances. While appearing to still be quite ‘raw’ he appeared to still be quite capable when he was on the pitch. Aleksic should see more appearances this year, being one of only three natural center backs on the roster.

Allan Zebie – Zebie has been a part of the Academy off and on since 2012. After a stint with both the Rangers and Leed United, he came back in the summer of 2014 and was a part of the midseason training camp roster. Zebie got his first pro contract in January this year and should be an occasional sub for this FC Edmonton backline.

 

Midfielders

Lance Laing – 2014 was a breakout season for Laing after being moved from left back to left wing late in the spring season. The move breathed some life into a dormant Eddies attack and helped them push their way up the fall season standings and narrowly missed out on the final playoff spot. If Lance can keep up his play in 2015 he should be in the mix for league MVP, especially if FC Edmonton makes their first playoff appearance since 2011.

Ritchie Jones – Jones came in with a lot of hype last season. Spending your youth career with Manchester United will do that though. Jones took a bit of time to adjust and had some injuries to fight through early on, but his pedigree came through as the season progressed. Jones has the ability to distribute the ball that has been lacking on this team for a few seasons. Coming in adjusted to the North American game will likely make this an even more productive year for Jones.

Hanson Boakai – The “wee lad” as Miller likes to call him is entering his 3rd professional season at 18 years of age. This academy product has the potential to be one of the better players this country has ever produced and 2014 gave fans a taste of what’s to come. Boakai was forced into the lineup during the Voyageurs Cup games against Ottawa and Montreal due to fixture congestion, but took advantage of his chance. He became a first choice sub for Miller as the season progressed and was able to break down opposing defenses with his dribbling ability. 2015 will likely see Boakai move towards becoming a semi-regular starter and possibly a sale to an overseas team.

Christian Raudales – Brought in between the spring and fall season, Christian had a near immediate impact on the team. His ability to come in and play anywhere in the midfield helped turn things around in the season while other players were suffering minor injuries that forced them out of the lineup. Look for Raudales to continue to be a strong contributor off the bench with the occasional start when needed.

Chad Burt – Signing before last fall season like Raudales, Burt came in and brought an immediate spark to the attack. Much like Boakai, he overcomes his lack of size by using his skill and speed to create space. Burt has the ability to play up front or as an attacking midfield. He will be looked upon to provide additional depth to the attack that he succeeded at last season.

Oskar Orn Hauksson – Hauksson comes in on loan from KR in Iceland and the coaching staff envisions him as a key part of the offense this upcoming season. He has impressed early on in training camp and assistant coach Jeff Paulus (in an interview on From the Blackhole podcast) commented on his skill and that he’s likely to be a regular starter this season.

Tomas Granitto – An interesting signing for FC Edmonton. Granitto has been a member or the El Salvadorian nation team and has even played in the CONCACAF Champions League for Club Deportivo Luis Ángel Firpo. This is a fair amount of experience for any player in this league, let alone this 21 year old. Miller sees him as a “terrific passer” who will help the team keep possession when he’s on the field (From The11.ca). At his age, it’s fair to say FC Edmonton has long term plans for Granitto.

Sainey Nyassi – If the name sounds familiar to Canadian soccer fans, it’s because he is the twin brother of for Impact player Sanna Nyassi. Like his brother, Sainey brings a wealth of MLS experience to the Eddies. His decision to sign here comes in part from a recommendation from his brother Sanna, who had glowing reviews for Edmonton after last season’s Voyageurs cups games.

 

Forwards

Tomi Ameobi – The brother of Premier League players Shola and Sammy Ameobi, Tomi has been a great fit for FC Edmonton since signing after a preseason trial in 2014. His size, speed and touch are a combination that the Eddies have lacked up front since they were founded. Tomi quickly moved up the depth chart and has become the main striker on this team. 2015 should be an even bigger year for Ameobi, as he comes in with the gained experience in the NASL.

Daryl Fordyce – Fordyce came to Edmonton with his fellow countryman and good friend Albert Watson prior to the 2013 season. He was the lone bright spot up front for the Eddies in 2013 and finally got some help as 2014 progressed. With the ability to drop back and be a capable attacking mid, he provides plenty of offensive tools and is a scoring threat any time he is around the 18 yard box.

Frank Jonke – He came in with a lot of hype after being a consistent scorer in the Finnish league and having some call ups to the Canadian national team. At the time, it was a dream signing for the team. But after a slow start and having some concussion issues, 2014 was a year to forget. Jonke comes into 2015 with a lot to prove and will have to work his way off the bench if he wants to redeem himself.

Sadi Jalali – Jalali is a young Academy product that will continue to have to fight for his playing time. He has been a part of the Canadian youth program at the U17 and U20 levels. While still only 19, Jalali is in a position where he needs to show some growth and earn his playing time. With FC Edmonton not signing any additional strikers this offseason, he should be able to get plenty of minutes as a substitute.

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