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    FC Edmonton’s vacant coaching role: Who will succeed Jeff Paulus?

    Jeff Paulus addresses his team during their game vs. Forge FC. (Photo: CPL / Chant Photography)



    FC Edmonton brass is picking up the pieces after a tumultuous 2020 Canadian Premier League season.

    Jeff Paulus stepped down as Edmonton coach last week, which means one of eight CPL coaching roles is temporarily vacant.

    The move wasn’t necessarily a shock — Paulus himself said during The Island Games that he felt the Eddies could use a new voice on the touchline for the 2021 campaign.

    Paulus left the job with a 10-9-18 overall record and a young, promising core remaining in place, telling he prefers an out-of-province candidate with professional experience to succeed him.

    Who will replace Paulus? Nobody knows for sure, but here are four candidates for the Eddies to consider for the vacant coaching role.

    RELATED READING: Paulus opens up on stepping down as FCE coach: ‘I feel very much at peace’

    Sean Fleming (current FC Edmonton assistant)

    Sean Fleming
    Sean Fleming (CPL)

    The current FC Edmonton assistant coach would bring familiarity to the role, just as former assistant Paulus did in 2018.

    Born in Scotland, Fleming moved to Edmonton when he was very young and took up coaching after graduating from the University of Alberta. Fleming spent 14 years with Canada Soccer, including an eight-year stint as coach of the under-17 men’s team. Under Fleming, Canada qualified for two straight FIFA U-17 World Cups after a 20-year absence. Over 30 CPLers came through that program, making Fleming one of the most well-connected coaches in Canada.

    What’s more, Fleming joined FC Edmonton in 2017 as an academy coach and has been crucial in FCEs use of local talent thus far – Prince Amanda, Marcus Velado-Tsegaye and David Doe, among others.

    Philippe Eullaffroy (former Montreal Impact Academy Head Coach)

    Philippe Eullaffroy (Canada Soccer).
    Philippe Eullaffroy (Canada Soccer)

    France-born Eullaffroy could continue the Eddies’ Francophone streak, while bringing an out-of-province viewpoint, as mentioned by Paulus.

    The 56-year-old recently departed the Montreal Impact Academy after a decade with the club’s youth programs. Most notably, Eullaffroy coached FC Montreal – the Impact’s short-lived USL side in 2015 and 2016 – where nearly a dozen current or former CPLers featured under him.

    Eullaffroy could also be a key link to identifying undervalued Quebec-born players – Abou Sissoko and Mohamed Farsi the latest entries on a short but growing list.

    Colin Miller (former Eddies coach)

    Women’s International friendly Canada v Mexico 24 November 2013, Vancouver, BC, Canada BC PLace ©CanadaSoccer / by Bob Frid Colin Miller
    Colin Miller (Canada Soccer)

    Care for another kick at the can, Colin?

    The resume of FC Edmonton’s former long-time coach is undeniable: five seasons with the Eddies, two stints as the Canadian men’s team interim coach, professional experience in Scotland’s top tier, an MLS assistant with the Vancouver Whitecaps, and over 60 senior caps for Canada as a player.

    Miller parted ways with FCE after their NASL days ended in November 2017. Paulus learned the pro coaching ropes under Miller’s tutelage, making a return for Miller in 2021 seem almost too good to be true.

    The 55-year-old recently revealed a move to FC Edmonton would be “a long shot” but, in the same breath, suggested he missed professional coaching.

    RELATED READING: Eddies post-mortem: Where did it go wrong, and what;’s next for the Eddies?

    Ilya Orlov Alliance United League1 Ontario/University of Toronto Head Coach

    Ilya Orlov (@ilyao88) | Twitter
    Ilya Orlov

    League1 Ontario and U SPORTS have produced countless CPL players, so maybe it’s time for their coaches to be given a chance, too.

    Orlov currently serves as coach for L1O men’s side Alliance United and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the OUA, where he was promoted to the top job last season after several years as an assistant.

    Orlov’s resume speaks for itself: two Ontario university bronze-medals and national championship berths as an assistant, and coaching stints at Union Berlin, Fulham and Feyenoord.

    He isn’t far removed from his playing days, either, with two Ontario university first-team all-star appearances, a OUA gold-medal and a national championship with York University coming earlier this decade.

    He’s an interesting, under-the-radar pick, but would be a long shot to be the Eddies’ coach, not based on his qualifications, but for what he would have to give up to be the manager in Edmonton. Prestige of being a manager in the CPL is one thing, but apart from being on his way to being one of the elite coaches in this country, these days, money talks and the Eddies cannot probably afford him.when in reality Orlov would have to give up too much personally for a crack at the top of the pyramid in Canadian Soccer.

    Carmine Isacco York University Head Coach

    York's Carmine Isacco calls unprecedented draft partnership a 'win-win' for  CPL, U SPORTS – Canadian Premier League
    Courtesy of

    Like Orlov whom is one of his former players, Isacco would be another possible choice out of the Ontario University ranks. Isacco has coached at every level in this country, CPSL, U-Sport, A-League, U-20 National team, MLS with TFC, League 1 Ontario. He has led the University of Toronto men’s Varsity Blues to OUA silver medals in both 2005 and 2006, also capturing a CIS silver in 2005.

    In January 2007 Isacco resigned as the men’s soccer head coach for the Varsity Blues and accepted a position as an assistant goalkeeping coach with TFC, serving under head coach Mo Johnson and later that March was appointed as the head coach for the York University men’s soccer team. Under Isacco’s tenure as head coach, the York Lions’ have amassed 7 OUA conference championships (2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018) and 4 U Sports national championships (2008, 2010, 2014, 2015).

    As the inaugural head coach of the Vaughan Azzurri League 1 Ontario team, Isacco has won the “double” twice in 2016 and 2018, and in 2019 was the first assistant with the inaugural York 9 entry under Jim Brennan.

    The York Region Soccer Hall of Famer checks all of the boxes that the Eddies would be looking for, but as with Orlov, Edmonton would more than likely not be able to afford the price tag that would move Isacco out of Ontario for the northernmost city in the Canadian League.

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