Marcus Velado-Tsegaye made his professional debut for FC Edmonton against Cavalry FC at the tender age of 17 this past weekend. The youngster showed everyone why he’s regarded as the next big thing to come out of the Edmonton soccer scene.
The Eddies were losing 1–0 to rivals Cavalry FC and Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus needed some fresh legs and energy to try to overturn the score line. Paulus looked over to the bench and called on the Edmonton-born winger to make an impact.
For Velado-Tsegaye, making his professional debut for his hometown club is a moment he will never forget.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” Velado-Tsegaye says, “especially with all the fans. It made it a bit overwhelming. I got right into the game, I got some early touches and created a chance right away, which helped me settle into the match.”
The 17-year-old FC Edmonton Academy graduate didn’t shy away from doing the things that got him a professional contract. He likes to have the ball at his feet and run at the opposition’s defenders. His positivity was nearly rewarded with a goal, but he was denied twice by Marco Carducci, who gave an impressive performance for Calgary.
“I always look to go forward,” Velado-Tsegaye says. “That’s just how I am. I like to use my speed, look to catch defenders off balance and make them make mistakes. I always look to score and if I can’t, then I try to set up my teammates with chances.
“The first shot, I knew I didn’t make good contact with the ball. I saw it deflect and trickle towards the left corner; I was just hoping it would go in, but unfortunately it hit the post and went out.”
The Canadian grew up playing soccer in Edmonton. He spent his youth primarily playing with the FC Edmonton Academy and Edmonton Drillers under coach Rocky DeLuca, to whom the 17-year-old attributes a lot of his success.
Velado-Tsegaye is the latest academy member to break into the first team. His goal last year was to get a professional contract — now it’s all about building off his last performance.
“My next goal is to get a goal,” Velado-Tsegaye says. “I want to start making my way into the starting lineup. I hope to have a good season and go to higher levels, but I need to take things one step at a time and earn my place in the lineup. It’s important to keep a level head and not get too ahead of yourself after one appearance. I need to stay focused and keep working hard.”
Velado-Tsegaye is a perfect example of why the Canadian Premier League (CPL) is important. If it wasn’t for the CPL, he would have to move abroad to a European country or work his way through an academy system in Major League Soccer (MLS).
Coach Paulus is a strong believer in the 17-year-old’s ability as a soccer player and stated that the moment he was given the position of head coach, he knew he wanted Velado-Tsegaye to be apart of his roster.
“It was a no brainer signing him,” Paulus says. “I can see him moving to the next level and going overseas. He’s got the talent, the motivation, the discipline and maturity to get him through the hard times if he does go to Europe [one day].
Paulus will be hoping to manage Velado-Tsegaye similarly to how the Whitecaps managed Alphonso Davies. Currently, Davies is playing with Bayern Munich and is the face of Canada soccer. In fact, Velado-Tsegaye is represented by Nick Huoseh, who is Davies’ agent.
“We have to manage his minutes, just like Whitecaps did with Alphonso. He’s still a 17-year-old boy. We have to keep him off social-media and away from the papers; he’s a young player and is impressionable so we have to keep him grounded.”
Edmonton has been a hotbed for developing talented wingers. The likes of Davies, Hanson Boakai, Randy Edwini-Bonsu and now Velado-Tsegaye have all developed in Edmonton. They are all similar in the sense that they are creative wingers — attacking wingers.
There will be scouts keeping a close eye on Velado-Tsegaye and Paulus isn’t opposed to allowing the kid to move on if that right opportunity arises. A strong debut season could change Velado-Tsegayes life.
“The whole staff knows we want to develop these kids, give them exposure to professional soccer and get them to the highest level they can obtain,” Paulus says. “If there is an opportunity for him to move onto a higher level, we’ll do that. If we are developing players at a young age that move on, then chances are we are doing something right here. Number one, we are doing a good job with our training in our academy and chances are we are winning soccer games if we are pushing players on to MLS or Europe.”
At the moment, Velado-Tsegaye is happy with his progress, but hopes to have a breakout year this season. He’s currently still attending classes at Archbishop O’Leary High School, where his friends jokingly ask him for autographs. He’s thankful to have great teachers, who support his career and allow him to focus on soccer as well as school.
Pretty impressive for a 17-year-old if you ask me.