Whitecaps/ FC Edmonton Matchup Insight
Every year, the top four Canadian professional soccer sides go through an annual tournament to determine the national Canadian professional soccer champion, thereby earning the trophy known as the Voyageurs Cup.
The numbers are rounded off by a fourth team, FC Edmonton of the second level North American Soccer League (NASL).
This year, Montreal was drawn with Toronto in the first round, while the Whitecaps came up with FC Edmonton as their opponents. This match is the first leg of a two part total goals series, similar to European club cup ties, to decide who will go on to the final against the winners of the Montreal-Toronto series in another two leg round.
The Voyageurs Cup is a nice trinket, but the real value of the prize is that the last team standing also takes Canada’s sole berth in the CONCACAF Champion’s League tournament. That event sees the best club teams from the North and Central American countries such as the US, Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador vying for professional soccer supremacy.
As well as the prestige up for grabs, the accumulated matches are real money spinners that benefit teams’ bottom lines.
FC Edmonton may be a second tier squad, but they have some good players (including ex-Vancouver Whitecaps residency members) and will be eager to measure their worth against higher level opposition. Expect an energetic and thrilling game on Wednesday evening, May 2nd in the Albertan capital, with the return leg set for Vancouver a week later on May 9th.
Edmonton has got off to a very poor start this year, sitting dead last in the single division, eight team league. They have a record after four matches of just one tie to accompany three losses.
The team from northern Alberta had finished 5thin the previous season, also with a losing record.
This year’s team has allowed 6 goals against in 10 matches, but has been weakest in attack with a paltry 3 goals scored.
Team captain and central defender Paul Hamilton is their best player, with midfielder Shaun Saiko and forward Yashir Pinto being the other players to watch over the two legged affair.
The Whitecaps are rapidly regaining health, with the only remaining invalid not training being third string goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre.
That means that young forward and number two SuperDraft selection Darren Mattocks is finally working out again after six weeks off with burns suffered in a kitchen accident (though he will likely not be on the field for another couple of weeks).
So, Vancouver has a near full squad to select from and, due to the importance of gaining a Champions League berth, expect coach Martin Rennie to stick with most of his starters, and a couple of second stringers.
This month looks to be the most congested on the fixtures list with six matches scheduled, so he will have to carefully manage his players’ minutes though.
Despite trying not to deride the quality of the opposition, it is obvious that Vancouver received the better draw to open the Canadian Championships. However, the ‘Eddies’, as they are known will be eager to play above their current standing and Vancouver should anticipate an early push from their NASL counterparts.
However, the ‘Caps outstanding back line is well equipped to handle the Edmonton attack.
As long as he makes the lineup, I believe that Eric Hassli will finally break his duck and open his scoring account for the year. Once the first goal goes in, Vancouver will be eager to fill up the net in order to get their offence well and truly on track.
Vancouver will produce an impressive 3-1 road victory over FC Edmonton.