FC Edmonton: 3 key performers of 2019

All season long, 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.

RELATED READING: FC Edmonton: 2019 season in review

There were many highs: A big win over Forge FC, going joint-top of the CPL table in August, Canada call ups, and several big goals from a very big goal-scorer (more on him later).

Paulus has found his core, too, re-signing a good number of players from Year 1 for 2020.

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

FC Edmonton's Easton Ongaro. (CPL).
FC Edmonton’s Easton Ongaro. (CPL).
  • Position: Striker/Left winger
  • Appearances (starts): 21 (11)
  • Minutes played: 1,167
  • Goals: 10 (team-high)
  • Shots on target: 21 (team-high)
  • Min/Goal: 0.77
  • 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.

Ongaro’s goals weren’t flashy or particularly spectacular (an Al Classico header on the final day of the campaign was his most impressive effort), but they were typical of a player who possesses solid tactical awareness and positioning. A ball played into Ongaro in and around the six-yard box was almost guaranteed to end up in the back of the net.

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

2. Amer Didic

FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic plays the ball. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL)
FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic plays the ball. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL)
  • Position: Central defender
  • Appearances (starts): 19 (19)
  • Minutes played: 1,650
  • Assists: 3 (team-high)
  • Possession won: 92
  • Pass accuracy: 81.46%
  • Clearances: 109 (team-high, 2nd most in league)

Amer Didic is coming off a solid campaign, impressing enough to earn a call-up to John Herdman’s Canada camp in September.

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.

Didic was a step above his FCE cohorts on the back line in 2019. What’s next? Who knows, possibly a move to MLS?

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

FC Edmonton goalkeeper Connor James makes the save on HFX Wanderers FC attacker Akeem Garcia. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL).
FC Edmonton goalkeeper Connor James makes the save on HFX Wanderers FC attacker Akeem Garcia. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL).
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • 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

FC Edmonton’s Top 5 goals from 2019