In this series, Steven Sandor examines the projected starting lineups of each Canadian Premier League club ahead of the 2019 CPL season.
A lot of people in Edmonton, including coach Jeff Paulus, are scratching their heads and wondering why the Eddies have been so underrated and underestimated.
Go to training, and you can already feel the chips on the players’ shoulders beginning to form. This is the only team of the seven CPL sides that has a history — and there’s a palpable feeling that it’s been discounted by many of those who are looking at the rosters. This probably owes to the fact that, though FCE games were nationally televised for a few seasons, that few people outside of Edmonton and Ottawa regularly followed the NASL.
So, a team filled with locally raised players and NASL veterans might not register with soccer fans in Toronto or Vancouver whose only frames of reference might come from Europe and MLS. Make no mistake; this should be one of the best teams in the league.
Connor James is both a product of the FC Edmonton Academy and the University of Alberta, where he was widely hailed as the top shot-stopper in CIS last season. The goalkeeping job was always going to be his to lose, and he’ll be pushed by Dylon Powley, who James has known since they were both kids. Powley came out of crosstown rival MacEwan University, ans spent part of last season in Sweden.
The heart of the FC Edmonton’s defence is dominated by two, tall, imposing figures. Amer Didic is someone Paulus had hoped to bring back to Edmonton since, well, the team announced it would be in CPL. Didic, at six-foot-four, has played in CONCACAF Champions League with Sporting Kansas City and is a powerful presence in the air. Paired with six-foot-two Montreal Impact Academy product Mele Temguia, and it’ll be a fool’s errand to barrage the FCE area with crosses.
Two NASL stalwarts anchor the middle; Ramon Soria, the former captain of Puerto Rico FC, is an intelligent ball-mover who will shield the back four. And James Marcelin, with MLS experience in Portland and Dallas before becoming an NASL First XI selection, will play a bit further ahead. Randy Edwini-Bonsu adds pace on the wing, and FCE’s midfield promises to be the most intimidating in the league.
The name you know: Tomi Ameobi, who is one of the all-time leaders in Canadian Championship scoring and, when healthy, promises a threat both in the air and with his feet.
The name you need to know: Marcus Velado-Tsegaye, who might be Edmonton’s “next one.” Don’t be surprised if Velado-Tsegaye becomes one of the most talked-about teenagers in the CPL.