VANCOUVER, BC – David Edgar certainly knows how to make an introduction.
On New Year’s Day 2007, a then 19-year-old Edgar scored against powerhouse Manchester United in his home debut for Newcastle – and just his second professional match.
It was a goal that made headlines across the UK. And in Canada, too.
Fast forward nearly 10 years, Edgar scored on his debut once again. This time, it was for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Canadian defender, now 29, headed in the game’s opening goal on Tuesday as the ‘Caps drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace FC in an exciting friendly at BC Place.
It wasn’t quite the same stage as Edgar’s memorable strike against Man U (good luck trying to match that), but it was a special moment nonetheless. Especially when you consider this was Edgar’s first professional club match in his home country after a decade-long career in the UK.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” Edgar told reporters of his desire to return to Canada. “It’s always been in the back of my mind. When this came up, it was almost too good to turn down … obviously getting a goal in my debut in front of the home fans was a really good feeling.”
Scoring goals is always nice, but Edgar was brought in to help prevent them.
The ‘Caps are the fourth highest scoring team in Major League Soccer at the moment. On the other hand, no team has conceded more goals. A big part of Edgar’s job will be to help rectify that. There’s only so much you can take away from a friendly, but Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said he was pleased with the defender’s debut performance.
“I thought he was good,” Robinson told reporters. “I talk about fundamentals in footballers and he does them very well. His defending, his footwork, his reading, he never puts himself in [bad] positions.”
He’s also always talking, which for a defender could be as important as anything else.
“I’m talking non-stop during the game, I’m trying to organize,” Edgar said after the match. “I had to catch my breath today, but that’s sort of what I pride myself on, organizing. It makes everyone’s life easier if there’s a voice back there.”
Edgar started Tuesday’s match alongside Pa-Modou Kah, another always vocal figure, in central defence and played just over an hour. It was his first competitive match in over a month. His last game action came for Canada in a friendly against Uzbekistan on June 7 – he captained the team and scored a goal, coincidentally – so this game couldn’t have come at a better time for him.
The Kitchener, Ontario native, who has been working hard with the club’s training staff since joining the club last Monday, said he felt “quite up to pace.”
“As far as I’m concerned now, I spoke to the manager, I’m ready to go now when called upon,” Edgar told reporters. “I’m available for selection.”
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a visit to Houston Dynamo on Saturday. The ‘Caps are still searching for their first point in the state of Texas – and Edgar knows all about the challenges of playing there, having faced Jamaica at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium during last year’s Gold Cup.
“It was probably the hottest I’ve ever played in,” Edgar said. “It’s just something you have to get used to in this league I guess. You’re definitely not going to get that in England.”
Robinson said on Thursday that it may not be the smartest move to throw Edgar into the Texas heat after just a couple of weeks of full training, so his official MLS debut may have to wait.
His introduction, however, has already been made.
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