After their game against Atlanta on Wednesday night, the Ottawa Fury FC are at the top of the table for the NASL Fall Season. This marks the first time in the team’s short history that they are in this position. The win also puts them in 4th place in the Combined table but only 1 point out of first place. This was not lost on the 3,000 faithful that made it out to the midweek game with shouts of “We are top of the league” making the rounds at the end of the game.
It’s not something that’s lost on head coach Marc Dos Santos either. “For the club its big and we’ve built something that today it’s not about being first it’s about being competitive and respected in the league.” The Fury have a busy schedule and with three games in one week, it was important that the whole team work together to get the results needed to make it to the top. “It’s a team effort. Everybody’s bringing something and the important thing is not about the players it’s about the club succeeding.” With another game the following Sunday, Dos Santos has to manage the team carefully and elected to give some of his usual starters a bit of a rest. Mauro Eustaquio started in the midfield for Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and Philippe Davies replaced Julian de Guzman who was not available for the game. Goal scorer Carl Haworth started in place of Andrew Wiedeman and it was Oliver in for Paulo Jr. Haworth knows the value of the depth of the Ottawa squad. “It’s huge when you can make changes like that and the standard doesn’t drop. Everyone’s confident with anyone who steps in any given position. We’ve got lots of versatile players out there and anyone can step in and do the job. “ Captain Richie Ryan was instrumental in keeping the team focused. “It’s a quick turnaround for us so you have to manage the game and stay compact. We’d done that. We didn’t really concede many chances and I think the second half opened up a little bit for us.”
And while Dos Santos and the squad are proud of the progress they’ve made as a team, Ryan was quick to put things in perspective. “We can’t get carried away. We’re top of the table in the fall season. But…[that] doesn’t really mean a great deal. We had an objective at the start of the season and that was make the playoffs and we’ve got 16 more games to go to make sure we reach that. We just take every game as it comes and we’ll try to win every game and thankfully at the moment we’re doing okay.” For now that means making sure they’re ready for the Carolina RailHawks when they come to town on Sunday.
Carolina sit third in the Fall Season just 3 points behind the Fury. And with only 3 loses total, they are a strong force at third place in the combined table. If the Fury want to keep top spot they’re going to have to watch out for Carolina’s most dangerous men, Nacho Novo and Tiyi Shipalane. Novo, the Spanish forward, will be most recognizable to Glasgow Rangers fans as he helped their club to three Championships and to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2008. He continues his leadership role with the RailHawks as their top scorer of the season with 6 goals. The Ottawa back line will also have to watch out for the strong midfielder Ty Shipalane. He signed with the RailHawks back in 2010 and has been with them 4 of the last 5 years. He’s tallied a total of 21 goals with the club and shows no signs of slowing down. He currently leads the team in assists with 4 in the 2015 campaign. MLS veteran Wells Thompson is also one to watch for. His 8 years of experience in the top North American League means he’s a leader for the Carolina side.
Dos Santos mentioned that he was happy with the way midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic and new signing Aly Hassan worked together saying they were a particularly dangerous combination. Expect him to exploit this pairing more in future games. He also confirmed there’s a good chance de Guzman will be back in the line-up on Sunday as the midfielder was scheduled to train with the squad for the remainder of the week. The game this Sunday, July 26 at 3:00pm at TD Place will be no cakewalk for the Ottawa Fury and should prove to be an exciting game to watch.