‘Next De Rosario?’: Paulus calms media hype for in-form Ongaro

Could Easton Ongaro be the best striker in the CPL’s Fall stanza?

FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus was posed this very question following yet another scoring performance by his young and quickly emerging striker, who, despite a 3-1 loss to Valour FC on Monday evening, once again turned heads with his strong attacking instincts in front of goal.

Ongaro has been in fine form of late, scoring in four of his team’s last five matches, climbing the top scorer’s tally with five to his name thus far this season.

But Paulus was quick to temper some of the media chatter surrounding his young talent.

“I’m delighted with the lad so far, but he’s still a growing boy,” Paulus told after the match. “I think the media is putting too much pressure on him at the moment, with so many accolades about the kid: He’s had three professional starts, and (it’s like) he’s the next Dwayne De Rosario.

“I love the kid, but tonight’s an example; he had some chances in the box, but Skylar Thomas did a good job on him.”

“But,” Paulus admitted, “this kid’s a talent. Given time and opportunities, and if we bring him along the right way and do the right thing as a club and as a coaching staff, he could be a special player.”

While Paulus is right to keep expectations in check surrounding Ongaro, there’s certainly no doubt that he’s been the talk of Edmonton over the course of the months of August and July.

He’s inserted himself into the Eddies’ starting XI, forcing another tactical shift out of Paulus who has now used Oumar Diouck out wide, in order to best utilize his somehow-speedy 6-foot-6 striker up top.

So, for his money, does Paulus think Ongaro ranks among the best strikers in the CPL?

“I think he’s up there; I think he’s in the discussion,” Paulus offered, in response. “But my concern is that we’re not going to throw the weight of this team on the shoulders of a 21-year-old playing his first professional season.

“I’m delighted with the kid, and I don’t want to downplay what he’s done for us coming in as a starter, because he’s been very, very good, and he’s scored again tonight. At the end of the day, you want your striker to score, but some don’t. Some miss it. He’s scored another goal, and strikers are paid to score goals, but I just want to make sure we do our job with this kid, keep him up the right way, and not ruin him.”