About an hour prior to the match, I tweeted the ELO-calculated odds of victory. Because the Cosmos have had quite the slide, and the Fury have had a bit of a rebound, the Fury were favoured to win due to the home field advantage. Discounting the home field, it should have been a very even match as the Fury had an ELO of 1172 and the Cosmos 1170. Of course, those are stats, and in a real match anything could happen. The chief worry I had for the Fury going into the match was not the scoreline, but whether this match would be treated as an audition for 2017 NASL or 2017 USL. The Cosmos have already locked in their post-season, and the Fury are basically eliminated from the running, so it should have been a decent match.
The reality is very disappointing. The first half started quite slow, but generally was well played by the Fury. They moved the ball, made a few decent runs, and even had a handful of decent shots. The Cosmos seemed to be taking it light, trying to ensure none of their players would get injured prior to post-season. The first half put an end to that thought as Guenzatti went down with what looked like a major knee injury. I’d be very surprised to see him back for post-season, and it’s safe to say we can count him off the Cosmos roster for the remainder of the regular season. The injury was clean, without any sort of malicious play, and even the Fury players were milling around concerned for Guenzatti. The first half ended scoreless for either side.
The second half was a different match, between different teams. New York decided they were enforcers on a hockey team, and acted as though Ottawa had just whacked the goalie. Play was rough right from the beginning of the half, but it was just after Williams scored in the 54′ when things began to turn really ugly. Within a couple minutes of the goal, a Cosmos player would cross the field and kick Williams in the leg, nowhere even close to the ball. After that, it was all elbows, tackles, and body checks. The Cosmos cracked them all out while the referee played blind. The referee did manage to call a few fouls that should never have been called, and even stalled the match because a player had a minor cramp well away from play, but the real rough stuff was absolutely ignored. Fury players continued to try to audition for next year, but having to dodge kicks & elbows aimed directly at them certainly made things more difficult.
Cosmos managed a goal in the 80′ off some very messy play in the Fury end. They toned down the rough stuff and started looking like a soccer team instead of hockey enforcers for the remainder of the match. The Fury players overall did manage a decent audition for NASL-level play. Obasi, Rozeboom, and Haworth all looked good on the field, although Haworth may need to check his temper. Peiser was also fantastic. It was great to see Porter back, though he and Eustaquio were not quite up to NASL-level play yet. Stewart was definitely hurting for confidence, which definitely shorted the Fury a goal or two throughout the match. It’ll be interesting to see who buys these players from Fury between seasons.
If Fury opt to go the USL-route, which is strongly rumoured, Eustaquio would be a fantastic fit and he’d probably be a regular starter. Porter and the other players previously mentioned will probably all find homes elsewhere in the NASL. I think Bailey could go either route with his play, it’s all a matter of what the NASL-teams are searching for between seasons. It’ll be interesting to see what exactly happens, and the team’s failure to dispel the rumours only serves to lower attendance, increase anxiety, and make fans more critical of the team. Fury’s next audition will be against Rayo OKC at Miller Stadium on October 16th. Maybe we’ll hear something about the team’s direction between now and then, either way, we’ll get another chance to take stock of the players prior to the post-season fire sale.