In their final NASL regular season game against the Atlanta Silverbacks, the Ottawa Fury looked like a very different team. Aside from the line of defenders in front of keeper Marcel DeBellis, they were a very different line up on the field. Coach Marc Dos Santos elected to rest a majority of the regular starting eleven in preparation for their post season Championship run. Star goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, team captain Richie Ryan, midfielders Julian de Guzman, Mauro Eustaquio and Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and forward Paulo Jr all stayed in Ottawa in order to stay rested and injury free for the NASL post season.
Back up goal keeper Marcel DeBellis got his first NASL regular season start on Saturday against the Silverbacks. As part of the team for two years, DeBellis had only appeared in a friendly game against Rangers FC and was eager to show he was up to the task. He had the security of a solid Ottawa Fury defensive line in front of him in Ryan Richter, Rafael Alves, Colin Falvey, and Mason Trafford. The midfield featured Jeremy Ganon-Lapare, the newcomer on loan from the Montreal Impact, Ugur Albayrak, and Drew Beckie while Carl Haworth and Oliver started on the wings with Aly Alberto Hassan in the striker position.
With their future in the NASL uncertain, the Atlanta Silverbacks were playing in what may have been their final league game at Silverback Park. The game was understandably an emotional one for the home fans. Their team came out strong in the first half and took the lead early when they were awarded a free kick on an Ottawa handball. Junior Burgos stepped up and sailed his shot past DeBellis in the 4th minute. Despite trading chances with the Silverbacks for the rest of the half, the Ottawa Fury could not find their way onto the scoreboard until the second half of the game. At the 65th minute it was Aly Alberto Hassan who collected his own rebound off of Atlanta keeper Steward Cues and netted the equalizer. This gave the visitors a shot of energy but they were unable to get a winning goal past Cues. The second half would also see defender Colin Falvey go off with an injury, but post match comments have suggested that this was largely a precautionary move.
With this point and New York’s 2-0 victory over Tampa Bay, the Fury finish in second place in the NASL Combined Standings. Coach Dos Santos was satisfied with the ending to their season. “I’m proud of the guys that played and the effort they gave. I want to praise the players for the fantastic season they had and their attitude in the 30 games played. Now it is time to focus on the most important game of our short history.”
The story for the Fury now is the NASL post season. They have already earned home field advantage for their semi-final game. We know from the results on Saturday that they will face Minnesota United on Sunday November 8. However, they have not earned home field advantage automatically should they advance to the final. If they face New York, the battle will take place in Brooklyn. But should New York lose their semi final game against either the Tampa Bay Rowdies or the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (at the time of writing, it was not yet settled who they would face), Ottawa will face their competitors at home.
One thing is for sure; the Fury are ready. Bring on the Loons.