The sport of soccer, as any sport, has levels of fans. We recently looked at the Supporters Group level which is loud and proud all the time. You also have your knowledgeable base of fans. The ones who know all the players names and can specifically tell you which of the players is excelling or struggling and what tactics the coach is employing that are effective or non-effective. I’m neither of the above and it’s okay if you are not either.
I reached out to FC Edmonton Head Coach and General Manager Jeff Paulus and asked him questions targeted at casual fans like me.
As a casual fan, a few player names are familiar and the concept of the game of soccer is understood. If it is not raining at kick off, consider me in my seat with a cider and a gluten-free burger. Sometimes I listen more to the Supporters Group or am more engaged in conversation with my guest or the fans around me than I am focused on the game. Long story short, I’m there for a good time.
As a former ticket sales rep, not for the Eddies, the idea of selling soccer to Edmonton would focus on the package deal you get entering Clarke Stadium. You are not just getting a soccer match, you are getting a few hours out in the fresh air with friends and family to chit chat while enjoying a meal someone else cooked for you. That ladies and gentleman, shall never again be underestimated when this pandemic passes. All the while, a soccer game is going on.
So my first question to Coach Paulus is simple, tell of an FC Edmonton game experience without the focus being soccer:
The experience of an Eddies match is driven by fans who create much of the atmosphere. You will not be told when to clap or have to sit politely, you will be allowed to sing and chant and enjoy a day out with friends and family. Worldwide football is driven by the supporters, who have a deep emotion for their team and this comes out on game day where you can feel the passion.
With that exercise out of the way, please Coach now sell us on an Eddies game with the focus on soccer:
The one thing that a fan can expect to see when they come to an Eddies match is local players representing their city. They will see a team playing with pride and emotion and a brand of football that will hopefully send them home with stories of individual moments of brilliance. They will see international players each bringing with them some of the traits and flair from their own football education. When put all together fans can expect to see a team a team that will look to move the ball quickly and create moments for the 1v1 specialists to get them out of their seats.
They will also see a dominant defending team anchored by a Canadian national team player in Edmonton raised Amer Didic. Young fans of the Eddies will see their role models live, some from the exact same youth clubs that they are now playing for. They will also take home player cards, and the memory of having their favourite player signing and handing the card to them immediately after the game.
Third and final question, please name the three players even the most casual of soccer fans will leave the Stadium talking about:
These are always hard questions for a manager to answer as we always have to leave players out. Let me just say that when it comes to an ability on the ball to beat players 1v1 and do things with their feet that I couldn’t do with my hands, I would say that Hanson Boakai, Keven Aleman, and Raul Tito are all ones to watch.
If you are bringing young children who have aspirations of reaching the highest levels have them pay attention to our teenagers – Chance Carter, Prince Amanda, and Marcus Velado-Tsegaye.
I could really go through the entire team to offer things you should look for in each of our players. Perhaps the strength of our team this year will not be in the three that standout but in the depth of talent in the team itself.
The Canadian Premier League(CPL) has let it be known that players and owners are in agreement that the 2020 season shall happen. No details on when. No details on how (single site or tourney or traditional schedule). The positive vibe to take away from this information is there will be CPL soccer this year.
I am positive that if you, a casual fan of the sport of soccer, come out to a FC Edmonton game at Clarke Stadium, you will enjoy the experience and the game. Thank you Coach Paulus for giving us a cheat sheet of what to expect and who to watch. Now, come on you boys in blue!