The little minnow can take a kick at the big fish.
That’s what Cup competitions in the world of world football are all about.
That’s the opportunity the fledgling FC Edmonton will have this spring in the world of Canadian soccer with the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
It’s an opportunity. And a challenge.
“Yes, of course it is. But we like challenges,” FCE’s field boss Harry Sinkgraven said on Friday after the Canadian Soccer Association officially announced the Nutrilite format for 2011.
Edmonton hosts Toronto FC on April 27 at Commonwealth Stadium before a return leg at BMO Stadium a week later on May 4. The home-and-away format familiar to most Cup-type opening rounds is the new twist to the championship in 2011.
“It’s a nice opportunity to show that we have a good team to play Toronto, an experienced team that plays MLS,” said Edmonton’s Dutch head coach.
“They are bigger than us, but we will challenge them and make it very very difficult for them.”
While the Vancouver Whitecaps, who will play a similar series against Impact Montreal, have a longer history in Canada, they are re-emerging this year as a first-year Major League Soccer franchise. So Toronto FC — and its impressive fanbase that paints their home grounds in red — are the top dogs of Canadian soccer. Back-to-back wins in the Nutralite confirms that.
The pressure will be on Toronto. For Edmonton, it can be a nothing-to-lose scenario. Unless, of course, they lose badly.
“Yes, that’s OK (to be the underdog), but you want to win every game,” said Sinkgraven. “Like a good sportsman you want to win every game, so we will want to try to beat them.
“It will be a big challenge for us and our players.
“And we hope a lot of spectators will come to the game and encourage us. That’s what we need, so we can make it 12 against their 11.
“And, hopefully, we can give everybody a good look at our team and maybe a big surprise.”