“Perhaps the most amazing support was shown in 2002, when Edmonton played host to the first ever FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championships. It was an extraordinary tournament which saw Canada fall to the US in the final in front of 47,000 spectators.”
The game’s origins in Alberta can be traced all the way back to 1862 and Fort Edmonton Park. Modern professional history really started taking shape in 1978, when the Edmonton Black Gold club, formed by Brian Rice, caught the attention of Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington. In 1979, the Drillers landed in the Alberta capital, having previously been known as the Oakland Stompers. The franchise began at Commonwealth Stadium before migrating to Clarke Stadium. The indoor team called Northlands Coliseum home, winning the NASL indoor championship in the 1980-81 season.
The Canadian Soccer League rose from the NASL’s ashes, and Edmonton was represented by the Brickmen, a club formed in 1985 to play in the Western Alliance Challenge Series. The Brickmen were known for giving local players an opportunity, helping launch the young careers of several future Canadian internationals.
Edmonton has always supported its national teams. Canadian Men’s national team players consistently rate Edmonton as a favourite destination, primarily because they were guaranteed a partisan home crowd, whereas in some larger cities, the visiting nation’s support outnumbered the home fans.
There have been several iconic moments involving Canadian teams at Commonwealth Stadium. For the men, the 1994 pre-World Cup friendly between Canada and Brazil tops the list. On that day a full house watched Eddy Berdusco became famous for scoring against the eventual World Cup Champions in a 1-1 draw.
There was also the FIFA 2007 U-20 World Cup, which featured several key games at Commonwealth, including a pair of matches involving Canada. Perhaps the most amazing support was shown in 2002, when Edmonton played host to the first ever FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championships. It was an extraordinary tournament which saw Canada fall to the US in the final in front of 47,000 spectators. That support inspired several local businessmen to launch the Edmonton Aviators of the A-League.
Canada was in the international spotlight once again in both 2014 and 2015. Edmonton saw Canada fall to Germany in the quarterfinals at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2014, before playing host to the opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Christine Sinclair scored a late penalty to lead Canada to a 1-0 win over China in front of a sold-out crowd at Commonwealth Stadium.
Most recently, FC Edmonton carried the torch of professional soccer in the city. Founded by Tom and Dave Fath in 2010, the club was a founding member of the most recent iteration of the NASL, making the playoffs twice. The club left the league in November of 2017 before re-launching in 2019 in the Canadian Premier League.