FC Edmonton midfielder Ben McKendry has slotted into the lineup smoothly since his loan move from Vancouver Whitecaps FC, starting the last three matches for the Eddies after three initial substitute appearances following his arrival in Alberta’s capital on July 25.
McKendry joined the Eddies until the end of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season. The 24-year-old midfielder has gone on to make a total of six appearances so far this campaign with a feel-out period that included three substitute appearances against the Indy Eleven on July 30 and August 5 and FC Edmonton’s August 11 meeting with the New York Cosmos. McKendry admits his minutes off the bench allowed him to have a greater impact when he stepped on the pitch as a starter.
“The coaching staff have done a great job of getting me acclimated to their system,” McKendry said. “It was nice to come off the bench and get a taste of the league and the system. It’s great being in the team, we have done well and are on a five-game unbeaten streak. There is not much of a difference in the standings between the top and bottom, so every game is very important now.”
McKendry identifies himself as a box-to-box midfielder who focuses on keeping and regaining possession. One aspect of his game he continues to work on is breaking the midfield line with penetrating passes. During his six games this season, McKendry has completed a total of 133 passes while maintaining a 81 percent passing accuracy. More importantly 35 percent of those passes have been made in a forward direction. McKendry also has also been successful in 89 percent of his tackles.
“I do like to get on the ball [in defence], but I do like getting forward to see if I can get some goals too,” McKendry said. “I do understand and respect the defensive side of the game. Getting the ball forward is something I’ve learned since I joined the Whitecaps and it’s something [Carl Robinson] has preached to the midfield players — that we should play forward and not always play the safe passes sideways or backwards. If you can play forward and break lines, then usually you’re putting the attacking players in positions to score goals.”
The midfielder has had no issues getting adjusted to his new surroundings in Edmonton. Having grown up in Vancouver, McKendry is used to the Canadian culture both on and off the pitch. His time at the Whitecaps has allowed the 24-year-old get used to the chaotic travel that Canadian teams face in professional soccer leagues, which is important as long travel days are never easy getting used to.
“I’m used to the travel by now,” McKendry stated. “It’s always going to be a challenge and something you have to deal with as a professional. It’s something everyone has to do, teams who come to Edmonton have to do it, so it’s just something all the players and teams have to deal with.”