Straith’s utility an advantage for both club and country

Straith's utility could play a key role for the Canadian Men’s National Team on Tuesday and in this summer’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Jamie Umbach (@JamieUmbach) | Jun 13, 2017

FC Edmonton defender/midfielder Adam Straith’s versatility has been on display for the Eddies this North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season, and it could play a key role for the Canadian Men’s National Team and manager Octavio Zambrano on Tuesday, June 13 against Curaçao in Montreal and in this summer’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.


The Victoria, B.C. product has been away with Canada preparing for Tuesday’s final friendly before July’s Gold Cup, the federation’s official national team championship, which kicks off on Friday, July 7 in Harrison, N.J. at Red Bull Arena when Canada faces French Guiana. Straith has already been named alongside teammate Nik Ledgerwood to Zambrano’s 40-man Gold Cup provisional roster, with that number set to be reduced to 23 following tonight’s friendly at Stade Saputo.

Straith has played both centre-back and central defensive midfielder in his last six appearances for both FC Edmonton and Canada, in addition to an unexpected 37 minutes as goalkeeper for the National Team in a 4-2 win over Bermuda on January 22 after all substitutes were used and Canada's goalkeeper came off injured. Traditionally deployed in the centre of defence, the 26-year-old is able to adapt to both defence and midfield due to their natural similarities, but takes into account the change in approach needed for each position.

“I grew up playing centre-half and as a defender,” said Straith, who's started nine matches and played 795 minutes for the Eddies this NASL Spring Season. “It’s only been the last couple of years with the National Team, and now [with FC Edmonton], that I’ve played in midfield a bit. I prefer to play in the back, but there’s a lot of similarities with the two positions so it’s not too much of a change.

“There’s different ways players can play in [midfield]. Obviously with me I’m a defensive-minded player, so in that sense it’s not too different. You’re further up the pitch so you have to support the attack a bit more, and there’s less space and time when you have the ball.”

FC Edmonton head coach Colin Miller, a Canadian international himself with 61 senior caps, brought Straith in during the offseason to provide another veteran, consistent presence to his side for the NASL Spring Season campaign. Straith’s contributions have so far gone above and beyond for Miller, who attests to the Canadian’s professionalism, versatility, and willingness to adapt and play whatever role required for the Eddies.

“I’ve asked him to play at centre-back, I’ve asked him to play in central midfield, and he does it without batting an eyelid,” Miller added. “He’s so consistent and sets a good standard with his level of professionalism. He’s one of those players you genuinely enjoy working with every day. I’m delighted he’s with us as he’s given the club a bit of maturity and a bit of calmness to everything, and has such class when he goes about his work.

“When he plays as a holding central midfield player, there’s a calmness to what he does. There’s a consistency in possession, and he has a physical presence from set plays. When I work with Adam, I see a player who epitomizes everything I would expect from a Canadian international.”

Fans can watch the Canadian Men’s National Team face Curaçao at 5:30PM MT on Tuesday, June 13 on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN5. Straith then returns to the FC Edmonton fold ahead of the club’s first visit to the Bay Area and Kezar Stadium when the Eddies face the San Francisco Deltas on Saturday, June 17 at 8:00PM MT.


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