The Ottawa Fury FC played their last home game of the NASL Spring Season on Friday night May 29. The atmosphere in TD Place was electric as fans were treated to their first night game of the season. So far, all of the Fury’s home games have been scheduled on Saturday afternoons. But there’s something special about night games, especially Friday night games, when all of the tension from the workweek is swept away and the weekend can really begin. The official attendance was announced at 5,064 but it felt like much more as the entire crowd lent their voices to spur on their home side.
Coach Marc Dos Santos continued with his preferred 4-3-3 formation on Friday night as he started Mason Trafford, Colin Falvey, Rafael Alves, and Ryan Richter on the back line. Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Nicki Paterson, and Julian de Guzman were the stable midfield line, and Brandon Poltronieri, Carl Haworth, and Paulo Jr were the attacking combination. For all of their scoring woes, the Fury have an impressively energetic attacking force. The squad were facing Edmonton’s best scorers, Sainey Niassy, Richie Jones, Daryl Fordyce, and Lance Liang who have an impressive 11 goals between them on the season.
With Edmonton’s strength being their goal scoring abilities and Ottawa’s strength being their defensive capabilities, it was no surprise that this match ended in a stalemate with neither side willing to give up a goal. The teams are so even that their win-draw-loss record is exactly the same with Edmonton having the edge over Ottawa in the standings purely on goal differential. But despite FC Edmonton’s scoring prowess it was the Fury who put up the majority of attacking plays in this game. Great chances came to midfielder Ubiparipovic, forward Poltronieri and striker Haworth and even defender Falvey in the first half. Edmonton’s Richie Jones and Daryl Fordyce also had some great chances in the opening half, but both keepers denied either team an advantage.
The second half was much of the same with Carl Haworth getting a couple of good chances in the 53rd and 79th minutes to test Edmonton keeper Jon Smits. Edmonton responded with captain Albert Watson and forward Lance Liange teaming up to produce a great chance in the 66th that just rolled wide of the goal. Paulo Jr and Paterson also linked up later in the second half to send a shot straight at Smits who expertly handled the play. Despite the home fans encouragement, the Fury were unable to collect all three points from the game and would have to be happy with one.
Coach Dos Santos is happy with the progress he’s seeing with his team. “We had three games here at home. We didn’t win the three. We tied two and won one but at the end of the day I think that opponents are not breaking us down. We are very solid and it’s not the back four or the defensive midfielder, it’s the eleven. We’re growing and becoming a team and we learn from our mistakes.” And that’s really all you can ask for from such a new team to the league. Last year, the Fury’s inaugural year, was about establishing a team and this year seems to be all about adjustments and learning how to play and be competitive in the NASL. The Fury are finding their place in the league and building a reputation for their defensive strength. Defender Mason Trafford is happy with this reputation. “As players coaches and a club it’s not a bad thing to have now three in a row without conceding. It’s pretty impressive especially at home. Hopefully we can build that up and teams will know that whenever they come to TD Place they’ll be in for a really tough game and it’s tough to score here”. Last year Trafford was featured as a central defender alongside Drew Beckie, but this year he finds himself playing the left back position, something he is becoming more comfortable with. “Tonight I think was one of the tougher tests I’ll have in this league with Nyassi. He’s a really good player an he’s a dangerous winger and it felt quite good out there and it feels good next to Falvey. And I think the whole back four plus Peiser, and you can see the class of de Guzman in front of us, I think we’re starting to really gel and we’re even limiting them a lot of chances too so it feels good.” Overall Dos Santos and the squad are satisfied with how things are coming along, “At the end of the day if we don’t win, the opponent doesn’t win and that’s the mentality of winning teams.”
The remainder of the games for the Ottawa Fury will need to be played on the road as FIFA has taken control over Landsdowne Stadium for the Women’s World Cup, which begins next weekend, Sunday June 7. The Fury’s next game is in Jacksonville on June 7 and they close out the NASL Spring Season in San Antonio against the Strikers on June 13.
Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fury.