FC Edmonton opens its North American Soccer League (NASL) season against Jacksonville Armada FC on Sunday, April 2 at Hodges Stadium in Florida. Here are three storylines ahead of tomorrow’s season opener for Edmonton.
First game of 2017
Sunday’s match in Jacksonville marks the first of 32 for FC Edmonton in the 2017 NASL Season. A successful preseason in Manchester has head coach Colin Miller hoping his side can start the Spring Season off on the right track and claim all three points in Florida. Sunday’s match is also the first of a back-to-back between the two sides that finishes when the Eddies host Jacksonville at Clarke Stadium on Saturday, April 8th at 7:00 p.m.
The NASL season is divided into two seasons — the Spring Season and Fall Season — where 16 matches are played during the Spring and the remaining 16 matches are played during the Fall.
After an impressive 2016 season that saw FC Edmonton reach the postseason before bowing out to Indy Eleven in the semi-finals, fans can be excited to watch a strong Edmonton squad compete for the club’s first-ever NASL Championship.
New signings on display
Sunday’s match versus Jacksonville Armada will be the first time FC Edmonton fans can get a glimpse of the club’s newest signings from the offseason. After losing a strong contingent of players after an impressive 2016 season, Miller strengthened his side with six new signings in key positions.
Veteran keeper Chris Konopka has joined the squad after the departure of Golden Glove shot-stopper Matt VanOekel. In defense, Miller brought in the likes of former Fredrikstad captain Netan Sansara and his former teammate Adam Straith, who is also apart of the Canadian Men’s National Team with FC Edmonton captain Nik Ledgerwood and midfielder Ben Fisk.
In midfield, Edmonton brought in the likes of Canada U-23 international and former Ottawa Fury midfielder Mauro Eustaquio. Sabri Khattab was also brought in by Miller after the 27-year-old spent most of his career playing a central-midfield role in Norway with Kvik Halden FK. For a stronger attacking presence, Miller brought in former Rangers and Northern Ireland international Dean Shiels in hopes of increasing Edmonton’s presence and effectiveness in the attacking third.
The North Versus the South
FC Edmonton faced Jacksonville on three occasions last season and were undefeated against the Florida-based team. The first match took place in the Spring Season at Community First Park and Edmonton came away with three points after a 1-0 victory. The next encounter took place in the Fall Season in Jacksonville, with both sides earning a point after a hard-fought 0-0 draw. FC Edmonton’s last home game of the season in 2016 saw the Eddies secure three points and a clean sheet after another 1-0 victory over the Armada.