Canada Soccer

FC Edmonton primed for Championship debut

Posted on 24 April 2011 in Canadian Championship

FC Edmonton will become the first "newcomer" in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship when it hosts reigning champion Toronto FC on Wednesday 27 April. The Edmonton, AB club will face the two-time national champions in a home-and-away semi-final series on 27 April and 4 May.

FC Edmonton was formed last season and joined the North American Soccer League (Division-2) this 2011 season. The expansion team will be in tough against Toronto, but should it pull off an upset it will advance to the two-leg championship final series on 18 and 25 May. The winner of the Toronto-Edmonton series will face the winner of the Montréal-Vancouver series.

For whatever it is worth, FC Edmonton is the only Canadian team with more than one victory in league play this season. FC Edmonton ranks third in the eight-team league with two wins and one loss after three matches. Montréal has a draw and two losses in the same Division-2 league while both Toronto and Vancouver have just one win in Division-1 (Major League Soccer).

While just about every Edmonton player is new to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, there are plenty of familiar names to Canadian soccer aficionados. The most experienced player is fullback/midfielder Eddy Sidra, who has made three career appearances with Canada's national team under head coach Stephen Hart. Sidra, only 22, recently played for Energie Cottbus in Germany.

FC Edmonton 29-man roster features eight other players who have played for Canada at the youth level, including Kyle Porter, Shaun Saiko and Alex Surprenant from the 2009 CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship. Actually, Sidra was also part of that 2009 CONCACAF team.

Saiko was the club's first-ever goal scorer on 9 April, a 2:1 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Saiko evened the score in the 53rd minute before Daniel Antoniuk scored the winner in the 66th minute.

Surprenant was FC Edmonton's next goal scorer in the 1:0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks on 16 April. Surprenant is the only player on the FC Edmonton roster with previous Nutrilite Canadian Championship experience. He played for Impact Montréal in 2008 and 2009, winning the Voyageurs Cup in 2008.

While Surprenant is a Voyageurs Cup champion (and Sidra is a Davidson Trophy champion at the university level), two other FC Edmonton players are Challenge Trophy champions at the amateur level. Both André Duberry and Chris Kooy won back-to-back national championships with the Calgary Callies in 2007 and 2008. Kooy actually won another Challenge Trophy in 2003 and also won a Canada Games gold medal (with Alberta) in 2001.

Duberry and Kooy both played for Dave Randall, the long-time Callies coach who led his club to four Challenge Trophies in a 10-year span (1999, 2003, 2007 and 2008). Randall is now an assistant coach under FC Edmonton's head coach Harry Sinkgraven.

The 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship runs 27 April to 25 May. FC Edmonton's two semi-final matches are 27 April at home (20.00 ET / 18.00 MT / 17.00 PT kick off) and 4 May on the road (20.00 ET / 18.00 MT / 17.00 PT kick off). Both matches will be broadcast live in high definition on Rogers Sportsnet. The winner of the Toronto-Edmonton series will advance to face the winner of the Vancouver-Montréal series.

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