EDMONTON - David Proctor was looking for a change of pace.
So when FC Edmonton gave him an opportunity to play in North America, the Scotland native jumped at the opportunity.
The former defender with Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle joined the local professional squad on their recent road trip.
Proctor, 28, is expected to make his home debut Saturday when FC Edmonton host the Minnesota Stars FC (7 p.m.) at Clarke Stadium.
“This was a personal choice to try something new,” said Proctor. “When the opportunity to come to North America came up, I discussed it with my wife and we both agreed that the experience would be good for me. Hopefully we’ll get settled soon and we’ll start enjoying the experience in North America.”
Born in Bellshill, Scotland, Proctor began his professional career with Hibernian before joining Inverness in 2003.
He went on to also play with Dundee United and Airdrie United before returning to play with Inverness, where his contract expired at the end of last season.
“This is my first time in Canada, I’ve been in the United States before on vacation,” Proctor said. “This is a change both on the pitch and off the pitch. Hopefully the experience will leave me in good standing for the future.”
Proctor can play both at the back and in midfield, giving FC Edmonton options heading towards the end of the season.
He made his debut with the club in their 2-1 win on the road over the Atlanta Silverbacks two weeks ago.
“He came in with about 25 minutes to go against Atlanta and you can see that he’s experienced, he’s calm and he’s confident with the ball,” said FC Edmonton head coach Harry Sinkgraven. “Also in the performance against Tampa Bay, he was good. He’s good on the ball and when he gets it, he looks for solutions. He’s only been here for about 15 days now and during that time he’s done well.”
Proctor left Scotland during a time of uncertainty in the country’s top soccer league, with traditional powerhouse Rangers forced into liquidation in June.
Due to their financial difficulties, the 54-time Scottish League champions have to start play this year from the country’s fourth division and try to work their way up to the top flight.
“They have to rebuild from the bottom and work their way back up the divisions again,” Proctor said. “It looks as though Celtic will have the title in the bag for the next few seasons.”
Regardless, having played his entire career in Scotland to this point, going up against both Celtic and Rangers were highlights for Proctor.
“Those are the games you look forward to, playing against Celtic and Rangers both at home and away at Celtic Park and Ibrox (Stadium) in front of a lot of fans,” he said. “Those are the games you savour, look back on and have fond memories of.”
Proctor won’t be playing in front of 50,000 any time soon in the North American Soccer League. But coming to North American presents it’s own challenges for the import.
“So far it’s been the heat,” Proctor said. “I think once I get used to that and the physical toll playing in the heat can take, I think I’ll be fine. It’s important to stay hydrated when it’s that hot and humid.
“Inevitably the pace of the game is a little slower because of the heat. I think at times you try and play good football and it’s about making good decisions, when to put your foot on the ball and when to go long. In the final third, you have to have that bit of composure and make sure you do the right thing when you have possession.”
Another issue is trying to fit in with his teammates as quickly as possible. FC Edmonton only has 10 games left in the season.
“My teammates have been welcoming and I’ve been able to fit in straight away,” Proctor said. “There’s been no problems that way, now it’s just a case of trying to cement a place in the squad and give everything I’ve got to help the team move up the standings.”
FC Edmonton Game on
Minnesota Stars FC at FC Edmonton: Tonight (7 p.m.) Clarke Stadium
Who to Watch
FC Edmonton: Shaun Saiko
Still leads the team with five goals on the year, but it’s been a while since he’s found the net. Saiko has not scored since May 27th.
Minnesota Stars: Simone Bracalello
The Italian import has a team-leading five goals for the Stars this season.
Coming In: GP-W-T-L-PTS
FC Edmonton 18-4-4-10-16
Lost 1-0, on the road, to the Tampa Bay Rowdies last week.
Minnesota 19 7-5-7-26
Lost 1-0, on the road, to the Puerto Rico Islanders last week.
Notes … This is FC Edmonton’s first home game since dropping a 1-0 decision to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Clarke Stadium on July 15 … FC Edmonton are currently second-last in the NASL standings, eight points back of the Carolina RailHawks for the sixth and final playoff spot … This is the first of a three-game home stand for FC Edmonton. They’ll play all three games in a span of eight days … During FC Edmonton’s recent road trip, the club extended the contract of head coach Harry Sinkgraven, who will be back next season … FC Edmonton has 10 games left in their season, seven of which will be a Clarke Stadium.