FC Edmonton has international flavour

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:48 PM ET

EDMONTON - It doesn’t take more than a quick glance at the newly announced FC Edmonton roster to recognize its international flare.

Introduced to the media Wednesday at Foote Field, the newest addition to the North American Soccer League is a mixture of players from Alberta and beyond.

For Brazil’s Neto Miguel, 22, making the team meant getting back into high-level competition since moving to Canada five years ago.

“I came here with my parents from Brazil and then I started going to school,” said Miguel, who is studying mechanical engineering at the U of C and is in the process of transferring to the U of A next semester. “It’s different, the culture and the cold. We got used to that. It’s different, but I love this country.”

One big difference is Canadians’ love of hockey.

“I went to a couple games first, couldn’t follow the puck. Now I’m (better but) not as up to date with the names of all the players,” Miguel said. “In Brazil, most people play soccer, beach volleyball, stuff like that. Soccer is the biggest thing, though.”

As a teenager, Miguel played for four months with Corinthians, a sports club based in his hometown of Sao Paulo. The team is estimated to have as many as 30 million fans — nearly the entire population of Canada.

“It was tough, but I knew soccer would grow (here),” said the defender, who is playing the left back position. “Soccer is a world sport. Every country, if they have a soccer ball they’ll be playing soccer.”

Following his father’s advice, Miguel attended the University of New Brunswick where he played on the soccer team.

“Go play for a school, try to get an education through soccer,” said Miguel, who has since transferred to the U of C. “That’s the way it was going until this came up, so I’m excited for this.”

His coach with the Calgary Callies club suggested he attend tryouts in Edmonton with the FC.

“Fortunately I made it,” said Miguel, who will be roommates with teammate and fellow Brazilian Thiago Silva. “We’re going to be cooking some Brazilian food.”

On the menu?

“A lot of rice and beans,” laughed Silva, who is studying business at NAIT and playing for the Ooks after moving from Brasilia last year. “I got a scholarship to play soccer at NAIT, so a free education in a good country like Canada, why not?”

Like so many others, Silva grew up playing soccer, but it’s not the only thing he wanted to do.

“It’s hard in Brazil because you either go to school or you play soccer,” the 25-year-old said. “When you combine both in Canada, it’s awesome.”

Although soccer in Canada has a lot of room to develop, Silva said he’s not wholly unimpressed with what he’s seen so far.

“Canada has good soccer, as well, and has been developing and getting better every year,” said Silva, who wasn’t worried about finding a team to play for after moving here. “I was more scared about the weather. It was the first time I saw snow here. It’s a pretty short (soccer) season.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

FC Edmonton 2010 roster

With name, position, hometown

Jas Gill, Goalkeeper, Edmonton

Rein Baart, Goalkeeper, Angerlo, Netherlands

Tristan Ilko, Goalkeeper, Edmonton

Andre Duberry, Defender, Calgary

Antonio Rago, Defender, Edmonton

Daylan Meyer, Defender, Calgary

Neto Miguel, Defender, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Niko Saler, Defender, Lethbridge

Paul Hamilton, Defender, Calgary

Sander van Gessel, Defender, Breda, Netherlands

Chris Kooy, Midfielder, Calgary

Chris Lemire, Midfielder, Edmonton

Paul Matthijs, Midfielder, Eelde, Netherlands

Sam Lam, Midfielder, Edmonton

Shaun Saiko, Midfielder, Edmonton

Thiago Silva, Midfielder, Brasilia, Brazil

Kenny Sacramento, Striker, Winnipeg

Kyle Yamada, Striker, Calgary

Marcus Johnstone, Striker, Edmonton

Michael Cox, Striker, Calgary

Milan Timotijevic, Striker, Calgary

FC Edmonton 2010 exhibition schedule

- All games held at Foote Field

June 16: Montreal Impact NASL

July 6: Ottawa Fury USL

Aug. 11: Victoria Highlanders USL PDL*

Aug. 15: Spokane Spiders USL PDL*

Aug. 28: Miami FC NASL

*USL Premier Development League


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