But something was missing.
Shaun Saiko, the all-time leader in scoring for the Eddies, was moved to the reserve team prior to the game and has likely played his final game for his hometown team.
Said Edmonton head coach Colin Miller to the Edmonton Journal, “I discussed it with Shaun and we weren’t going to renew his contract at the end of the season. We thought it was better to move him out of the first team environment."
The news of Saiko's demise was met by scores of upset fans who took to Twitter to voice their disappointment.
Best of luck to @SaikoShaun, who deserves better. Hopefully a good team will seize this opportunity to get a fine young player.— Maple Leaf Forever! (@MapleLeafBlog) October 4, 2013
@SaikoShaun Shaun as a fan of the club Im extremely disappointed to see you leave, the club now has lost our support of 15 season tickects!— AB GOV Accountable? (@AcoresManofWar) October 6, 2013
During the 2013 season, Saiko was third on FC Edmonton in scoring with two goals scored and three assists, contributing on one quarter of the Eddies' goals. For his career, he has connected on 18 goals and added 14 assists.
Edmonton has four games left on the fall schedule, including games against the top two teams in the league, the New York Cosmos and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. If the Eddies hope to make the postseason, they need to win all four games, collect all 12 points and have the Cosmos suffer a late-season collapse.
That's a tall order for a team that has only scored 22 goals in 22 games this year. And now, with Saiko out of the picture, the remaining offensive players need to step up and perform a Herculean task without a midfielder who has been a key part of the Eddies offense since the first day.
The fact of the matter is that even if FC Edmonton does everything right, the odds are badly stacked against it making the NASL finals. Given that reality, shutting down a fan favourite and the team's all-time top scorer is a bad move.
The team has been continuing to prove to be a tough sell in Edmonton, not yet approaching a sell-out in its modest-sized 4,080-seat Clarke Stadium home—its best crowd so far was 3,474 fans for a June 16 game against the Carolina RailHawks.
With the playoffs little more than a pipe dream, they need Saiko in the lineup to put fans in the stands, maintain enthusiasm and continue to make the team a viable product, irrespective of whether his presence gives them the best chance to win their remaining games. Any other move is just bad business for a fledgling team in a fledgling league.
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