FC Edmonton begin the 2021 Canadian Premier League season against Atletico Ottawa Saturday in Winnipeg. The match launches the month-long bubble event called The Kickoff which the league is using to start the new season. The league expects its clubs to return to their home markets to continue the season in August.
FC Edmonton finished in last place at last year’s tournament-style competition, the CPL Island Games, picking up the proverbial wooden spoon award. FC Edmonton supporters will be hoping for much better this time around.
FC Edmonton’s new boss
Alan Koch replaced Jeff Paulus as head coach in the offseason. Paulus came to an agreement with the club to step down from his role as coach and GM after the 2020 season.
In Koch’s professional stints with Whitecaps FC 2 and FC Cincinnati he’s often opted for some variation of a 4-2-3-1 formation and will likely use it again at The Kickoff as he and his club find their feet. It will also allow the midfield depth to be less of an issue.
The search for offence
FC Edmonton has historically been solid defensively but have often found it difficult in offense. However, the Eddies are looking to change that this season and have brought in attackers Tomas Warshewski, Roberto Avila, and Kyle Porter to help shoulder thesome of the scoring burden with striker Easton Ongaro.
Kyle Porter should add some veteran leadership, along with the return of Marcus Velado-Tsegaye and Antony Caceres.
The Eddies will be looking to be a team that “plays aggressively and leave everything on the field” as Koch said on CBC radio in May. Hopefully, the team can deliver.
Experienced midfield, but may lack depth
In midfield, the Eddies added Fraser Aird, Shamit Shome, Tomas Giraldo, and Thomas Gardner in the offseason. The team could lack some depth in midfield and will likely call on Roman Soria and Allan Zebie to fill in as they’ve done in the past.
Aird and Shome should provide some competition for starts given their experiences in the Scottish Premiership and Major League Soccer, respectively.
Competition in defence
FC Edmonton have retained most of the key defensive options in Mele Temguia, Amer Didic and Roman Soria. They’ve added some depth at full back withParis Gee and Sharly Mabussi who’ll compete for minutes with Jeannot Esua and Allan Zebie.
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Depth will be important throughout the first month of playas with clubs often only seeing a three-day turnaround between games. Players will be susceptible to injuries due to lack of rest.
Paris Gee is an interesting signingdue to his history with Alan Koch dating back to their successful stints at Simon Fraser University and may be set for a leadership role.
With the departure of Dylon Powley to Atletico Ottawa, FC Edmonton has solidified Connor James as the main starter in Edmonton’s net. The Eddies have also brought in another young Edmontonian in Darlington Mirasiranwa on a pro contract and Joseph Holliday to a development contract. This should clarify who starts but it will be interesting to see how the young goalkeepers handle taking on the FC Edmonton net as a cramped schedule will require adequate depth to handle the possibility of injury.
But beyond the departures and arrivals, the new coach and the style of play the club will try to use, the simple truth remains: FC Edmonton supporters will be hoping for and expecting a better result than what they saw at last year’s Island Games.
FC Edmonton plays Atletico Ottawa Saturday June 26 at 12 p.m. MT/2 p.m. ET on OneSoccer.