All season long, CanPL.ca reviewed key performers from each Canadian Premier League match, giving due credit to a trio of players who impressed over 90 minutes. Now, we offer this one last look at standout performers for FC Edmonton to bring a close to an exciting inaugural CPL campaign.
The City of Champions went without one in 2019.
FC Edmonton was just one of several local clubs to come up short this year.
That being said, 2019 was far from a failure for Jeff Paulus and the Eddies. Returning to the professional fold after a hiatus, Edmonton’s top-tier club made some major strides in the CPL.
Here are three FC Edmonton players who stood out over the course of the 2019 CPL season:
3 Key Performers for 2019
1. Easton Ongaro
Position: Striker/Left winger
Appearances (starts): 21 (11)
Minutes played: 1,167
Goals: 10 (team-high)
Shots on target: 21 (team-high)
Pass accuracy: 74.09%
Where would FC Edmonton be without the six-foot-six-inch goal-scoring machine known as Easton Ongaro? Selected by Cavalry FC in the 2018 CPL-U SPORTS Draft (and then let go by the Cavs), the 21-year-old went on to score 10 times in 21 appearances for the Eddies this year.
This is all without mentioning his physicality. Ongaro is the tallest player in CPL with some of the best ball skills. Deployed on the wing during the Fall season, Ongaro was effective taking defenders on or breaking forward to deliver a cross.
Ongaro is only going to get better after his first season as a pro. Locked in for two more years with the Eddies, this Peter Crouch clone could easily be one of FCE’s key performers again in 2020.
What they said:“He’s a unique individual because he possesses great height, but he’s got great feet and exceptional pace. He is a rare talent and he will certainly help us achieve our goals.” – Jeff Paulus, FC Edmonton coach
A six-foot-six-inches, the defender cut an imposing figure, using his size to effectively marshal FCE’s defence, and making it hard for forwards to get around him. Didic, who topped the league in aerial duels and clearances, has the kind of frame any coach would want in their backline.
That’s all without mentioning his technical ability. Didic shows some of the best ball-moving skills in the CPL. The 24-year-old was tops amongst the league’s defenders by completing 71 per cent of his long passes in 2019. His range was on display in his three assists, as well.
What they said:“We’re trying to get Amer signed here, and he’s happy here … I want to do everything I could to get him back to the MLS, because I believe he’s an MLS-quality defender.” – Jeff Paulus, FC Edmonton coach
3. Connor James
Appearances (starts): 22 (22)\
Minutes played: 1,489
Saves: 68 (team high)
Save %: 73.91% (team high)
Goalkeeper sweepings: 12 (league high)
Clean sheets: 7 (team high/2nd most in league)
Nominated for the Golden Glove award, Connor James was another failsafe for Jeff Paulus this season.
James, 23, was one of the most agile, quick-on-your-feet goalkeepers in Year 1 – exactly the kind of player FCE needed between the sticks.
He finished third among CPL goalkeepers in the Volkswagen Premier Performer standings with a score of 75.22 – likely due to his staggering 12 sweeper keepings on the season (league-best). An undersized goalkeeper, he made the best of a difficult situation by rushing out and closing down attackers to bail out a defence that was shaky at times.
What they said:“He’s been so solid all year … He’s one of the best ‘keepers in the league.” – Jeff Paulus, FC Edmonton coach