FC Edmonton is preparing for a home debut on Sunday, hosting Pacific FC at Clarke Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. MT, available on OneSoccer), and for Eddies head coach Jeff Paulus, the match is an opportunity for fans in the city to get their first look at the highly-touted Son Yongchan.
The 28-year-old attacking midfielder from Jinju, South Korea turned heads in the Toronto stop of the CPL’s cross-country open trials, standing out among the 130 or so prospective professional footballers at the Ontario Soccer Centre due to his fitness – Son ranked 3rd overall in physical testing out of 1,400 players by trials’ end – as well as his abilities on the ball, in-game.
Those qualities stood out to Paulus as he watched on from the sidelines. It didn’t take long for the Edmonton coach to realize the potential on offer from the player in front of him.
“Within two minutes, I said I wanted this player,” Paulus said, as quoted by the Edmonton Sun. “It was that quick to identify him, how he stood out. I didn’t even talk to him there because I wanted to keep it close to my vest he was the guy I wanted from the (CPL’s open) trials.”
He added, as quoted by the Edmonton Journal: “After watching him Day 1 at York, I spent that entire night watching video of him, hours of it, and I’m just sold on him.”
Son made his FC Edmonton debut in a 2-1 win over Valour FC last week at Investors Group Field, playing all 90 minutes and looking lively in the No. 10 hole as he and his fellow Eddies crafted a pair of set-piece goals to defeat Valour and record their first win in the CPL.
While Son didn’t find the back of the net, the “Smiling Assassin” did manage to play a key role in one of the two strikes, helping set up Randy Edwini-Bonsu out wide for an eventual assist on Mele Temguia’s opening goal.
That ability to play the pass before the key pass was, as Paulus explained, one of the main factors for Edmonton’s intense pursuit of the midfield ace after the trials.
“His speed of play, his decision-making, his ability to see the game before anyone else on the pitch could see the game, he was able to play on one touch and hit passes that I’ve never seen a player hit in my six years of professional coaching,” Paulus said, as quoted by the Journal.
“He just shows something different. He’s so fit, he’s so fast, the way he presses a ball gives no players time to even think and this is going to be our identity as a club.”