‘Only A Matter Of Time’: Defiant FC Edmonton Bags First Win Of 2022
FC Edmonton tasted the joys of victory last night, and it’s been a long time coming.
The beleaguered CPL side was without a win throughout its opening eleven league matches, with Alan Koch’s underdog side having fallen just short of a result on numerous occasions. Last night’s bumper crowd at Clarke Stadium saw the tide turn through Bicou Bissainthe, who’s game-winning goal brought smiles to a lot of faces who have witnessed a club fighting for life ’till the bitter end’.
Despite no lack of effort, not much has gone FC Edmonton’s way this season: on a shoestring budget with a patchwork of loan players, even the weather during home games seemed to paint a desolate picture. Despite that, yesterday saw a much-needed ray of light shine down on the club’s hardy fans, who haven’t yet failed to cheer on Edmonton’s players and a veteran head coach who refused to walk away when given the option.
Suffice to say, the mood was quite celebratory after the much-anticipated first win of the campaign.
“It’s a really good feeling. Obviously, it’s been a long, long time since we’ve won a game,” opened Koch. “There’s lots of factors that go into that, and I hope people will continue to speak about that, because we’re in a very difficult situation and one win doesn’t change that – but having said that, winning a football game is one of the great feelings on the planet. Our staff and our players are very, very happy to get a victory today.”
FC Edmonton itself, for those unaware, is lucky to still exist following the announcement that Tom Fath had run out of funding for the side last year. The Canadian Premier League and team owners from coast-to-coast stepped in to keep the club afloat, with the club running on a minimal budget this year while a new owner is found.
“We’d like to see if we can get through these challenges this year, hopefully, and see what happens with new ownership. Hopefully we can put a big step forward as we continue to move forward,” stated Koch.
While FC Edmonton has kept quiet regarding its race against the clock for ownership – it is unknown if the league would be willing to fund the project without an owner for further seasons, after all – there have been whispers that potential suitors are presently looking at the club. While FC Edmonton’s future remains murky, at least the present finally has some rays of hope peeking through.
Koch gave a special note of thanks to the supporters who have turned out to Clarke Stadium, where an average of just 875 fans have braved the weather and the results to support the club each week. Last night’s attendance looked double that average, and they seem to have buoyed the club to the much-needed win.
“I hope on the broadcast today you could hear our fans. It was a very impressive turnout today. That victory is obviously for the players, staff, and our entire club, but it’s for our supporters and the city of Edmonton, because we’re very, very grateful to have the support that we get,” added the gaffer.
The Eddies have announced a string of business partnerships lately, with no less than ten corporate partners being confirmed this month alone. With business momentum appearing to pick up on the surface, Koch was pleased to see a result on the pitch finally go their way, too.
“We feel like we could have, should have, won one or two of our previous games, so it’s taken a little bit longer to get to the first victory, but it is an amazing feeling after a lot of anguish, tough times, and difficult challenges over the last couple months,” said Koch matter-of-factly. “I think I probably speak for all of our supporters when I say I didn’t think we’d get this win until the final whistle went.”
FC Edmonton had seemed certain to record a home win earlier this month against Valour, but for a William Akio equalizer with the last touch of the game. It was heartbreaking for the club, but that’s the way it has been. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team in professional sports anywhere that, in back to back seasons, had to crack separate spans of 624 days and 218 days without a win.
Still, the athletes who step out onto Clarke Stadium – be they young rookies or more experienced athletes – haven’t kept their heads held down despite the tough run of results. The Eddies have gone out fearlessly week-in and week-out, battling hard and coming agonizingly close to securing that fabled three points on previous occasions.
“Winning is an amazing feeling. A couple of players in the locker room compared it to certain feelings that happen on this planet. I won’t mention what they are, but it is one of the great feelings on the planet,” Koch added with a smile.
The coach also notes that Atletico Ottawa shouldn’t feel too bad to be the first to fall against his side: he says they’ve had it in them.
“They’re a very, very difficult team to play, and they’re probably disappointed that they’re the first team we beat this year. They shouldn’t be. It was only a matter of time before we beat somebody, and they’ve made amazing progress in a short amount of time.”
Koch says the club takes inspiration from Atletico Ottawa, who finished bottom of the table last year but have completed a remarkable turnaround to find themselves in the top half with a well-defined and effective playing identity under Carlos Gonzalez.
While many fans had likely written off the Eddies as an easy three points following their tumultuous offseason, they’ve been anything but: opening with a last-gasp equalizer that might just be a goal of the year contender, they’ve been difficult to break down at home, even if their away form bears the scars of an inexperienced squad still learning to close out results.
To that end, Koch had said before the season began that this group would fall many times, but they’ve certainly shown an innate ability to get back up again, too. Beyond that, they’ve actually scored more goals than fifth and sixth-placed Halifax and York respectively, and just as many goals as the third-placed side they bested last night.
Despite this being just their first win, they’re now only three points behind seventh-placed Valour FC.
FC Edmonton will have a week of rest before an Al Classico away trip to Cavalry FC, the local rival they’ve never beaten. With Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side on a seven match unbeaten streak, they’ll be a significant hurdle for the young team.
Should they fall, you know they’ve got what it takes to get back up again.