Today was the final match of the NASL for the Ottawa Fury. It was almost poetic that the first team they played, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, would also be the last team of their NASL play. Unlike the first match though, this one would be at home in Ottawa, with fans enduring the fall chill to cheer on the team. Contrary to our suspicions, the Fury did not run with some of their more untested players this afternoon, instead sticking with their known quantities.
The first half was steady, but without any major rush from either side. They would leisurely walk to the ball for throw-ins and goal kicks, setting us up for a relaxed-paced match. That’s not to say there wasn’t action on the field. In the 3′, the Strikers would have a shot that would beat Peiser, but fly wide of the net. In the 11′, a pass from Tissot would be just out of Gentile’s reach, ruining what would have been a clear shot. A hard shot by Rozeboom in the 25′ would be easily snapped up by Cardoso.
In the 36′, Alves was awarded a yellow card. No one but the referee could really say what it was for, but it definitely pissed Alves off. For the remainder of the half, he would constantly be mouthing off at the referees. Fury would have a couple more chances in the first half. Rozeboom would gently roll the ball toward the net in the 43′, with Gentile ready to take the rebound, but Cardoso had no trouble snapping it up. Again in the 44′, a hard shot from Haworth would beat the keeper, but fly just a little wide and out of play. There was great back and forth throughout the half, with Fury looking slightly better than Fort Lauderdale.
The second half started off a lot slower than the first. With the first real chance coming from Dixon in the 57′, a blast that would go well above the net, Fury’s trend of not quite being able to finish would continue unabated. The Strikers, on the other hand, would snatch the lead in the 66′ when a header from Amauri would sail into the top-corner without Peiser having any chance to get a hand on it. Fury would try to spring back 2 minutes later when Haworth would blast it in from 20 yards out, beat the keeper, but send it a good 1.5′ wide of the net.
In the 71′, coming in for Bruna, Stewart’s first touch would be a shot right on the Striker’s goal, but wouldn’t be enough to beat Cardoso. The remainder of the match, despite seeing Mwanga and Porter come in for Dixon & Gentile in the 76′, would pretty much be a repeat of the not-quite-good-enough play which Fury fans have sadly become accustomed to this season. Although Fury looked the better team with passing and shots toward the net, they just could not finish at all. Cardoso would take a yellow in the 90′ for delay of game, and the 4′ of injury time would pass relatively uneventfully.
The general story of Fury’s season has been “not quite good enough.” Whether it’s been to prepare fans for the move to the USL, or just because they’ve had to recruit less expensive players for the year, there’s been precious exceptions to that ongoing theme. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be watching to see who remains with the Fury, and who leaves. Peiser has been phenomenal for the club all year, and if USL gets “promoted” to 2nd Division status in the USSF, then he could stay if the Fury are willing to pay him what he’s worth. We have heard that contrary to our expectations, Ryan Williams has signed on with the team for next year, so anything is possible. If they’re able to keep some core players, they could be a phenomenal team in their new league, but it’s something that we’ll have to watch unfold next season.