Ottawa Fury FC are on a roll in the NASL. Their unbeaten streak is up to 11 games and besides holding the modern day NASL record for most consecutive shutout minutes, keeper Romuald Peiser added another clean sheet on the weekend to make it 8 for the 2015 campaign. With last night’s win over FC Edmonton by a score of 1-0, the Ottawa Fury sits comfortably at the top of the Fall table with six points separating them from the second place Atlanta Silverbacks. They are also perched atop the Combined Table, two points ahead of the New York Cosmos. This is a team in their second season in the league. A team that barely knew each other when they played their first game last year. They’ve come a long way in a season and a half.
With their winning goal coming in stoppage time two games in a row, some may say the Ottawa Fury’s winning streak is all luck. But the truth is, last season the team never would have gotten those two goals. These late winners are less the product of luck and more of hard work and determination. The team plays until the last second of the game and there is a difference in their response during gameplay from last season. In general when a team goes down a goal in a game there is a tendency to get a bit more desperate for an equalizer. But as defender Colin Falvey describes this situation in their recent game against Carolina, the Fury are doing less panicking and more working. “When you get yourself into a position like that you tend to hit a lot of long balls and force things and start to panic a bit. [But] we were very composed. We didn’t panic. I was very pleased with how we kept our composure and kept going.”
A huge factor in the success the Ottawa Fury have been having lately is the level of camaraderie in the squad. Every player is working for the good of the team and they all support and trust one another. Forward Carl Haworth knows how important this is in tough situations. “It’s huge when you can make changes…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.“ Ottawa’s newest signing, forward Aly Alberto Hassan has wasted no time settling into the team feels the connection and strenght between the players. “At the changes we don’t skip a beat. We have good chemistry and it doesn’t matter who’s on the field, we all wish the best for each other and we want what’s best for the team.“
Of course it’s easy to trust one another when you have the skills available to get the job done. And that’s where the insight of head coach Marc Dos Santos comes in. Last year, when it was clear that defending needed to improve, he responded by bringing in Ryan Richter, and in the offseason, brought in Rafael Alves and Colin Falvey who have been impenetrable in the central defensive positions. Alves has been particularly valuable with his ability to not only defend, but to score. The tall Brazilian has three goals on the season. Falvey’s strength is in his aggressive but precise defending. He has the skill to go into risky situations and come out with the ball where other defenders would come out with a card. With the defensive line taken care of, Dos Santos had the foresight to strengthen the midfield and brought in Canadian National Team captain Julian de Guzman to play alongside Richie Ryan and Sinisa Ubiparipovic. The three veterans provide the experience and leadership to successfully control the midfield and support the forwards. When Dos Santos saw that the forwards were having a bit of difficulty scoring in the Spring Season, he brought in new recruit Aly Alberto Hassan to bolster the front line. And whether it was more pressure on individuals to perform, inspiration from a new teammate or a bit of both, it seems to have worked. Hassan himself has netted one since joining the squad and both Heinemann and Haworth have improved their conversion rates as well.
As Marc Dos Santos has said “I coach a bunch of warriors.” And they are fighting for the league with all of their heart.