One of the more interesting reunions that will take place in the Canadian Premier League this season may occur on Sunday when FC Edmonton hosts Pacific FC at Clarke Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. MT, available on OneSoccer).
A constant storyline in this inaugural season will be the way the league brings together old friends in new competition, as so many of the coaches and players have ties to one another from past experiences.
For example, Forge FC’s Bobby Smyrniotis and York9 FC’s Carmine Isacco go way back in Ontario soccer, as do Edmonton’s Jeff Paulus and Cavalry FC’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr. in Alberta, adding a deep layer of friendship and respect to provincial derbies.
The same goes for the players as well, even among the league’s star players.
Pacific’s Ben Fisk spent some time with the Eddies, after all, as did Cavalry’s Nik Ledgerwood and York9’s Kyle Porter.
But, perhaps, the most interesting connection comes from Edmonton’s Randy Edwini-Bonsu.
“There is a defender they signed …” Edwini-Bonsu told CanPL.ca, ahead of his team’s match against Pacific. “Hendrik Starostzik.”
“I played with him in Germany,” Edwini-Bonsu added. “Yeah, he’s a really good friend of mine.”
If we’re talking obscure links, this one is definitely out there – the two spent just a year together with Stuttgarter Kickers in 2014. They hadn’t seen or played together since. Then, one day, Edwini-Bonsu got a heads up that his old friend would be coming to Canada.
“He reached out, said, ‘Hey, I’m going to come to your league,'” Edwini-Bonsu recalled. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Pacific is interested in me.’ I was like, ‘Really?!’
“The whole time I was talking to him about it and he signed. And then the schedule comes out and we play them the second game. I can’t wait for that.”
Edwini-Bonsu added: “All my friends in Germany messaged me about it, too.”
Starostzik chuckled before the question could even be asked: “Hahaha, yeah. My ex-teammate.”
“We write (back-and-forth) a lot about it,” said the defender, who has missed Pacific’s last two matches with a bone bruise. “I hope that I can play (on Sunday).
“I said to him, that he had to tape his ankles because I want to go on his ankles!”
Edwini-Bonsu even provided some of the information that convinced Starostzik to sign for a CPL club.
“I got the offer from Pacific and I asked Randy about the life in Canada, how it works with the new league because it was all new for me,” Starostzik recounted. “He helped me a lot, for my decision to (sign) for Pacific FC.
“I’m very thankful to Randy, he helped me a lot to come here.”
Not that that kindness will be repaid on the pitch when the two meet.
“Don’t score,” Starostzik warned. “This is not possible, this is not possible.”
Should Starostzik not be fit for Sunday, the reunion will have to wait until the next meeting on Sunday, June 23rd in the return fixture on Vancouver Island.
Whenever it comes, Edwini-Bonsu is also looking forward to the encounter.
“We used to play against each other, had some great battles in training,” Edwini-Bonsu said. “Now, an official match against him will be special.”