No Amer Didic? No problem for FC Edmonton.
Even without their star defender Didic — called up to the Canadian roster for Tuesday’s long-awaited victory over the U.S. in the CONCACAF Nations League game against the United States at BMO Field — the Eddies were not to be denied in their final home game of the season Wednesday night.
FC Edmonton defeated Island-based Pacific FC 3-1 to close out their Canadian Premier League home schedule at Clarke Stadium.
Rookie 18-year-old Prince Amanda had a spectacular pro debut by moving around the PFC defence with a deft move to score left-footed at 20 minutes. The hometown Edmonton product five minutes later assisted directly on six-foot-six striker Easton Ongaro’s ninth goal of the season to give FC Edmonton a two-goal margin at the break.
Ben Fisk brought PFC to within one as the Canada-capped two-way player scored at 59 minutes. Mélé Temguia, left wide open in front of the PFC net, restored the two-goal advantage for the Eddies at 79 minutes.
FC Edmonton won for the first time in 11 games to move to 4-7-6 in the fall season ahead of its season-ending match Saturday against Cavalry FC at Calgary in soccer’s Battle of Alberta, which is strangely dubbed El Classico.
Pacific FC, whose defence was a bit of a shambles on the night, fell to 4-8-5 in the fall season and finishes Saturday at Westhills Stadium against Valour FC of Winnipeg, with PFC reporting nearly 5,000 tickets already sold for the season finale.
It’s academic now for every team not named Cavalry or Forge FC. The two-game, total-goal CPL final is set — between the top-two teams over the spring and fall seasons Cavalry and Forge — and goes Oct. 26 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton and Nov. 2 at Spruce Meadows in Calgary.
“There is still plenty to play for every time you go out there,” PFC head coach Michael Silberbauer told reporters, in his post-game scrum.
“There’s the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to get better. You don’t want to give too many opportunities away.”
Which is exactly what PFC did Wednesday in Edmonton.
There is time to reflect in the final week.
“There have been first-year growing pains, obviously,” said PFC defender Blake Smith, a former MLS Montreal Impact player.
Yet, there also have been times to cheer.
“We have grown a lot as a team from the beginning of the season. They are building something with PFC and it looks promising for next season,” Smith said.
The 28-year-old is on loan from FC Cincinnati of MLS, so his future path with PFC is unknown, but he has appreciated this chance and he has responded by being a calming influence on the club: “I’ve been the young guy on my teams up until recently. But PFC was so young this season that I was thrust into a mentorship role, and that was something new for me.”
As a Texan, Smith was a lonely voice cheering for the U.S. against Canada in the latter’s stunning 2-0 victory Tuesday as the PFC players gathered to watch the game. But it isn’t lost on Smith how Canadian soccer appears to be rising and the role the CPL can play in that evolution. It has been a revealing season in that regard, he said.
“You can already see how the CPL is going to provide opportunities for young Canadian players and be very beneficial for the growth of Canadian soccer. Honestly, I see endless potential for Canadian soccer.”