The Ottawa Fury started their 2015 NALS campaign away vs the Carolina Railhawks. This was always going to be a difficult game as WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina has been somewhat of a fortress with the Railhawks only losing 4 of their 13 home games last season, which may be the effect of a lucky water fountain. Matters were not helped by the absence of Oliver, Nicki Paterson, and Mauro Eustaquio due to suspensions carried over from last season and captain Richie Ryan, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and Philipe Davies due to injury. But expectations were high as recent signing Julian DeGuzman was scheduled to start his first career NASL game.
With a depleted squad, the biggest changes came in the midfield as coach Marc Dos Santos elected to start Patryk Misik, Julian DeGuzman and defender Drew Beckie as midfielders. The back line looked strong with Mike Randolph, Colin Falvey, Rafael Alves, and Ryan Richter as the starting defenders, and Paulo Jr, Andrew Wiedeman, and Carl Haworth started as the attacking forwards. And Romuald Peiser continues in his role as starting goal keeper for the Fury this season.
The game started fairly evenly with both sides getting chances early on but it was RailHawks Ty Shipalane who netted the first goal early in the 12th minute. Both sides had some good chances with Haworth and Paulo Jr. leading the attack for the Ottawa Fury. Then in the 28th minute, Fury FC forward Andrew Wiedeman was fouled in the box resulting in a penalty kick. Carl Haworth stepped up to take it but Carolina keeper Hunter Gilstrap made a stellar save to keep the score at 1-0. Next RailHawks Tiyi Shipalane was fouled at the edge of the box, and it was Nacho Novo who scored on the pk for Carolina putting the home side up by two goals at the end of the half.
The Fury went into the second half trailing the RailHawks 2-0 but seemed to benefit from the halftime break and came out with more focus and organization. Patryk Misik made his mark on the game linking well with Andrew Wiedeman, Richter and Carl Haworth to create the Fury’s chances in the second half. In an effort to get a more attacking presence on the pitch, Dos Santos brought in the very fit, Tommy Heinemann for Drew Beckie in the 61st minute. The tall forward showed a lot of energy but failed to convert any chances. Late in the game it was time for another change. Misik, having a strong debut game comes off for midfielder Brandon Poltronieri. The Costa Rican had an immediate impact in the game scoring the Fury’s first goal of the season, a beautiful header off of a cross from Paulo Jr. less than a minute after he had been subbed on. Try as they might the Fury could not find an equalizing goal. In stoppage time, the Railhawks secured their win with a third goal from Simone Bracalello after a controversial non-call and subsequent red card from the referee. Julian DeGuzman, who looked strong all game, was run over in the middle of the field and given a confusing red card for…voicing his displeasure? First, red cards are rarely given out for dissent. Second, it was DeGuzman who was fouled when a Carolina player pulled him down. The game ended with a soccer brawl and the referee handing out yellow cards like it was an Oprah’s Favourite Things episode.
Coach Marc Dos Santos saw the positives in his team but was disappointed after the game and was quoted as saying “We had some anxiety at the start of the game and that didn’t help us. Carolina made us pay for our mistakes, but in the second half we showed great attitude and commitment. We pushed Carolina back and could have maybe got the tying goal if not for a disappointing decision from the referee.” He referred to the questionable calls by the referee telling the Ottawa Sun’s Chris Hofley, “It’s difficult, when you come to the States you keep playing against 12 and we’re going to have to prepare because we’re going to Atlanta (on Saturday).” So the good news is that Ottawa Fury FC have Oliver, Nicki Paterson and Mauro Eustaquio available again for their next game against the Atlanta Silverbacks next Saturday April 11 at 7:30pm. The bad news is that Julian DeGuzman will miss that game after his ejection from this week’s match.