Cameroonian goalie shines in Edmonton, Canada

By  | 14 April 2016 at 02:36 | 12981 views

Fans of FC Edmonton watched anxiously, as their darling team fell 2-0 to Minnesota United on Sunday April 10.

They had thronged Clarke Stadium in Edmonton with sky-high hopes, after the Eddies (nickname for FC Edmonton) pulled a 0-0 draw in their very first match to start the 2016 North American Soccer League (NASL) season.

That was an away match, played in the United States on April 2. It was a clash with NASL debutantes Rayo OKC (Oklahoma City) one of the newest teams to join NASL,

Sunday’s clash with the visitors from Minnesota was so different. For one thing, the match was FC Edmonton’s first home game. Thanks largely to the heroic performance of one Sammy Njock (photo), the goalkeeper for Minnesota United, the Eddies fans went home to fight another day.

The Minnesota United goalkeeper frustrated every effort by the Eddies to get their very first goal this year. The six-foot-three keeper was on the roster for Cameroon at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and he was simply superb on Sunday.

According their team web site, Sammy Njock has several clean sheets with the club. This means the 26-year-old makes it his duty to stop the ball from crossing his own goal line, whenever he is on assignment between the goal posts.

An interesting anecdote on Sunday was that one of the Minnesota United players actually used to play for FC Edmonton. Lance Laing helped the Eddies win quite a few matches last year. On Sunday he schemed the midfield, to help his new team beat FC Edmonton. Laing is a Jamaican international and for all the 90 minutes of the game, he was more like the decoder who anticipated every gimmick in the Eddies’ game plan.

And yet another twist to Sunday’s match: The FC Edmonton goalkeeper Matt VanOekel seems to have switched sides with Lance Laing. The Eddies goalkeeper used to play for the Minnesota club. Matt Van Oekel, 29, is an American who manned the post for Minnesota United for a few seasons. He helped the team win the championship in 2011, and played until the Spring of 2014 when he moved to Canada and joined FC Edmonton. VanOekel played well, making many big saves as the visitors piled pressure all afternoon. In one Minnesota attack, VanOekel was beaten, but the crossbar saved the moment for FC Edmonton.

Striker Ben Speas opened the score midway in the first half, and scored again late in the second half.

The NASL welcomed one other new team, in addition to Rayo OKC. They are Miami FC. There are now eleven competing clubs in the NASL.

Canada has two teams in this soccer league: FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury. These sister clubs clash in the Eddies’ next home game at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, on Sunday April 24, 2016.

Minnesota United’s second goal.

Scrambling for the ball in FC Edmonton territory.

The visitors from Minnesota celebrating victory at the end of the match last Sunday in Edmonton, Canada.