United handily deal with Rabbit's Foot

Rabbits feet have been used as good luck charms for centuries. To do it right, the foot must be taken at an appropriate time, a full moon, a new moon, a rainy Friday, not that anyone in Vancouver would know the difference, or Friday the 13th. The rabbit in question must also have been shot or captured in a specific ceremony, and only the left foot is supposed to bring luck.

So when FC Edmonton defender Marko Aleksic used his right hand to block Simone Bracalello's shot, while both were standing in the box, on a Saturday, and during a crescent moon, what was referee Younes Marrakchi to do but call the penalty? On the bright side, it was raining.

"I was pleased with how we started the game," said FC Edmonton manager Colin Miller at halftime. "We've been really strong defensively and so have they, it will take something special for either side to find a goal."

Neil Hlavaty battles with Jamie Watson at the National Sports Center on 26 April 2014.  

Neil Hlavaty battles with Jamie Watson at the National Sports Center on 26 April 2014.

 

"I don't think we created as many chances as we'd like, but the guys put in a great shift," said his counterpart, United manager Manny Lagos. "We kept a clean sheet at home and we got the win. It's always a tough matchup against Edmonton, and we have had our share of draws, so it was nice come out of tonight with three points in front of the home crowd."

After the match, Miller said "I thought the lads were terrific tonight, I don't think we deserved to get beat. Young Marko was fantastic and he'll be devastated that we didn't walk away with three points.”

The match had a number of forces at work behind the scenes. It happened to be United's home opener, and the 5,287 who made it out to the National Sports Center went home happy with the result.

It was the first match of the Flyover Cup, which has been held since FC Edmonton joined the North American Soccer League in 2011.

Simone Bracalello scored the match's only goal.

Simone Bracalello scored the match's only goal.

And of course, it was another Spring season match. Minnesota sit at the top of the standings on the backs of successive victories over San Antonio, Ottawa, and Edmonton.

The Rabbits occupy the bottom position, having lost to Minnesota, New York, and managing a draw with Tampa Bay. At this stage, they are effectively out of the running of the first automatic spot in the Soccer Bowl Semi-Finals, and must now concentrate on the 27-match combined table.

Despite all the doom and gloom, Edmonton actually played well in the match, and they put Minnesota under pressure in the early stages of the match. What they failed to do was capitalise on that pressure.

The was a fifth minute red card appeal when Kevin Venegas committed a technical foul on Frank Jonke, but Marrakchi chose to give Venegas a yellow card for denying Jonke an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Former Whitecap Floyd Franks started for United, before being replaced by Greg Jordan in the 65th minute, although we question where Jordan is in actually, Greg Klazura playing under an alias.

Separated at birth? Greg Jordan and Greg Klazura.

Separated at birth? Greg Jordan and Greg Klazura.

Jordan and Bracalello came on together, and four minutes later, United were up by a goal. Miller immediately replaced Michael Nonni with Horace James, and eight minutes later added Hanson Boakai for Daryl Fordyce.

United sat back, defending the narrow lead. Edmonton applied pressure, but that's all that came of it.

On Wednesday, Edmonton play host to Ottawa Fury FC in the CSA Cup preliminary round. The first leg ended in a goalless draw, and as the away goal rule is not in effect at this level, both sides have everything to play for. The match kicks off at 6:30 PM PST.