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  • Parker making the case to start for FC Edmonton



    By: Nathan Terlesky

    Fans of any sport would agree that to lose only one game of five on the road is a success. In soccer, teams would kill for those results.

    While Edmonton only managed a draw against FC Tampa Bay Wednesday night, the team returns home in solid control of third place in the NASL and faces a much deserved ten day break. FC Tampa Bay posed more of a challenge to Edmonton than I was expecting, but the team pulled off some last minute heroics to walk away from the road trip with 4 points of a possible 6.

    The backbone of Edmonton continued to be the solid defense and goalkeeping that the team has become known for. However, there are signs of a revolution in net for FC Edmonton.

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Rein Baart started as the go-to keeper for FC Edmonton this season. The Dutchman started all of FCE’s games in 2010, and built a reputation for being a solid keeper. In exhibition play, Baart held his own against Colo-Colo and Portsmouth, keeping FC Edmonton close in both games. Baart also started in the rest of the exhibition season, and though the opponents weren’t as strong as the Chilean and English sides, still managed to showcase his skills. However in 2011, there has been a different side of Baart shown.

    While he started the first 5 games (including the first leg against Toronto), he has not seemed as confident in net for Edmonton. Several times he has passed the ball low and up the middle of the field, both times resulting in goals for the opposing team. There have been awkward challenges as well, resulting in goals, and a red card.

    While I am not suggesting that Edmonton let Baart ride out the rest of his contract (presumably until the end of the 2011 season), I think that the club should look at keeping Lance Parker in net. While only starting in 3 games (including the second leg against Toronto) this season, the 23-year-old has showed serious composure.

    While losing his first start against Toronto, Parker has demonstrated an ability to communicate well with the back line, as well as making some big saves point-blank against Tampa Bay. Parker limited MLS experience, having played on Chivas USA’s reserve team, and starting in the North American SuperLIga in 2008. Though he did not start for Miami FC in 2010, I believe he has made a strong case for starting in Edmonton. Against both Atlanta and Tampa Bay, Parker was instrumental to success. Against Tampa Bay, he was forced to show his athleticism, punching away a header destined for the far corner of the net with a diving save. Against Atlanta, Parker kept communication going through the back line, and was able to stonewall Atlanta when they began to press in the second half.

    Baart has just turned 39 this season, and is undoubtedly moving toward retirement. His experience is invaluable to the youth of FC Edmonton however. I believe that Baart would be an excellent asset to FC Edmonton through a mentoring role to Lance Parker and Jas Gill. The practical experience that he has obtained in over 140 appearances should be passed on to the younger and less seasoned keepers. While it may be difficult to accept that a player that was signed as a starter may be moved into a supportive role, based on the first few games of the season, it appears that it would be a good move to make.

    With Baart finished serving his suspension for a cleats up challenge against Montreal, and the team being together in Edmonton once again, it will be interesting to see if Coach Harry Sinkgraven decides to ride the hot streak that Lance Parker is on, or to go with his experienced country-man once again.

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