FC Edmonton head coach Colin Miller is hoping Clarke Stadium continues to be one of the toughest places for opposition to play in the North American Soccer League (NASL) this season.
The Eddies hope their impressive home record from 2016 carries over, starting with a win against Saturday’s opponents Jacksonville Armada FC. FC Edmonton nearly had a perfect Spring Season at Clarke Stadium in 2016, winning four of its five home matches.
In total, the Eddies had 14 wins, two draws and two losses at home in the entirety of last season. The most impressive part of the club’s success at Clarke started in April and ended in September when the Eddies went on a nine-match winning streak.
Flying to Edmonton is no easy task for any team in the league. Currently, FC Edmonton is the most northern professional soccer club in North America, which makes for tough travel for any team. Miller has spoken to other managers and players about the task of traveling to Edmonton, and Miller knows that the opposition fear coming to Clarke Stadium.
“They all know it’s a tough game because we play at a high intensity for 90 minutes,” Miller said. “Not a lot of players are up for that battle away from home. Some players love playing in front of their home fans, but they don’t like putting in the work away from home. Teams don’t like coming to Edmonton, they don’t like the travel and at times and we tend to provide a very difficult climate for the opposition.
“There is now a negative seed planted in the opposition’s mind on how difficult it is to come to Clarke and how hard it is to beat us here. We can’t live on that, we have to continue to make sure that is a fact. We play very well at home, we are excited about it and the players know there is a responsibility to continue to entertain the crowd here.”
2017 marks the first year FC Edmonton will feature games on Friday and Saturday nights. This Saturday’s home opener against Jacksonville will be the first Saturday evening match played at Clarke Stadium and Miller hopes that makes it even harder for the opponents to escape from Edmonton with a positive result. It also gives the Eddies a chance to bounce back after a disappointing opening loss in Jacksonville against the same Armada side that condemned them to defeat.
“We wanted it for some time now and for whatever reason that hasn’t happened until now,” Miller said. “We are very grateful to the city of Edmonton and Tom Fath for making it happen this year for us. Fingers crossed that the crowds continue to grow and get better for these evening matches.
“Last year we got out of the gate a little slow with a draw and two losses in the opening three matches. Hopefully we rectify that and get three points in our tomorrow. We need to win the ball a little higher so we can get forward and score some goals. We played in tough conditions in Jacksonville and this week we will play in conditions we are familiar with. We know it will be tough for Jacksonville.”