It’s been a week that FC Edmonton goalkeeper Nathan Ingham won’t forget.
A NASL debut in a 4-2 win over the New York Cosmos on June 7 and being named to the Eddies starting XI for second match in a row three days later versus the league-leading Miami FC at Clarke Stadium. The icing on the cake? Being selected to the North American Soccer League (NASL) Team of the Week after two strong performances between the posts.
Ingham signed for the Eddies during the 2016 offseason, where he was part of a trio of goalkeepers that included Matt VanOekel and Tyson Farago. The Keswick, Ont. product was unable to crack a spot in the starting XI during the 2016 season with VanOekel firmly holding on to the starting role. For goalkeepers, it’s tougher to find minutes because you either play or sit on the bench. There are no minutes coming on as a substitute unless someone gets injured or sent off.
“Goalkeepers have to be mentally strong,” Ingham stated. “I think it’s one of the toughest things for young goalkeepers because we all go through phases where we’re not playing, making mistakes, and you lose confidence. You have to find a way to fight back. It’s a common theme in young goalkeeper’s lives and you get a lot stronger because of it.
“Coming to FC Edmonton I felt I had a pretty good mindset and I was a strong guy. The past year I had to kind of just had to wait for my opportunity and wait for a guy like [VanOekel] to make a mistake and that was just never in the cards. You just have to respect the guys in front of you and keep working hard.”
Ingham went on to spend a portion of the 2016 season on loan with Toronto FC II of the United Soccer League (USL), where he aimed to get more game time for his development. The 23-year-old feels it was great experience for him facing off against the Reds’ first team in intersquad matches and being named Man of the Match versus New York Red Bulls II in his professional debut, with the stint helping Ingham regain his confidence before returning to FC Edmonton.
Ingham found out that he would get his long-awaited Eddies debut two days before the match in New York against the Cosmos. All the hard work in training, the never give-up attitude and the support from his teammates paid off for the young shot-stopper, who was ready for his big moment. On the day, Ingham received a lot of support from his parents and former coaches and teammates, who all supported the young goalkeeper on his big day.
“There is nothing better than a win, and it was a dramatic and exciting one,” Ingham said. “There were a lot emotions, a lot of energy and a lot of relief. So much went into trying to get my first start and first win, so there were so many emotions boiling out. It was a special moment.”
After a strong performance versus the Cosmos, Ingham was rewarded with a second consecutive start as he made his home debut against league-leaders Miami FC. Despite a positive game between the posts, which saw the Ontario product register a total of five saves through 90 minutes of play, the Eddies lost 1-0 to Miami in painful fashion after Tomi Ameobi’s go-ahead goal was disallowed minutes before conceding.
“I felt the whole team was quality against Miami,” Ingham said. “We settled in to the game after the first 15 minutes and we started creating chances. I made saves when I had to and the defenders made a lot of blocks. Everyone was in-tune.
“Hopefully we can keep positive and get more positive results. The belief is back and there are a lot of good things going on for the Eddies now and I’m really happy to be part of it.”