A little over a week ago, the Ottawa Fury FC started out on a whirlwind road trip. The schedule: 3 road games in 8 days. The challenge: to stay focused both mentally and physically through long travel times and training in unfamiliar facilities.
The Ottawa Fury seem to thrive on challenges. Last Saturday they started off strong, upending the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 after never having won against them before. Just two days later they waltzed into New York and dominated the Cosmos scoring 4 goals to their 1 and recording their first win against the New York side. Despite fears that the team would run out of steam at the end of their road trip, the Ottawa side completely controlled the game in Cary, North Carolina, topping the Railhawks 3-1.
With midfielder Mauro Eustaquio away with the Canadian U23 National Team on their Olympic Qualifying campaign, and Julian de Guzman still getting up to match fitness, coach Marc Dos Santos had to get a little creative through the middle. He called on natural defender Drew Beckie to start alongside captain Richie Ryan and Sinisa Ubiparipovic. The back line remains untouched with Ryan Richter, Rafael Alves, Colin Falvey, and Mason Trafford protecting keeper Romuald Peiser. Forwards Tommy Heinemann and Paulo Jr. have been on a scoring streak lately and started up front along with Ottawa native, Carl Haworth.
Despite Carolina’s impressive record at home, the Ottawa side established control of the game early on in the first half. Railhawks keeper, Akira Fitzgerald was peppered with shots on goal but came up with some acrobatic saves to keep the score at 0. It wouldn’t stay that way for long. At the 19th minute, Tommy Heinemann received a long pass from captain Richie Ryan, made his way around the Railhawk’s defense and calmly directed the ball past keeper Fitzgerald. Carolina fought back and their best chance came when defender Austen King found a shot on goal but Romuald Peiser came up with the save to keep the visitors ahead. The Fury continued to dominate and later on in the half, Tommy Hienemann collected a loose ball and floated it over keeper Fitzgerald’s head from just outside the box. Ottawa was not finished and in stoppage time, Brazilian forward Paulo Jr. received a pass from midfielder Ubiparipovic and made no mistake finding the back of the net. The Fury ended the first half ahead by three goals to nil.
The second half was not without some drama of its own. The home side came out strong at the beginning of the second half and about five minutes in, RailHawks top scorer Nacho Novo was fouled in the box. He stepped up to take the penalty kick and got it past Pieser to put the home team on the scoreboard. As hard as they tried, Carolina just could not get past the strong Fury back line and the scoreline stood marking the first Fury win at WakeMed Soccer Park. Head Coach Marc Dos Santos couldn’t have been happier with his team’s performance. “”What this group of players has done in this trip is absolutely fantastic! I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the guys!”
The win puts the Fury back in first place in the NASL Combined table, with just two points over Minnesota United and the New York Cosmos who are tied for second place. (At time of writing, the Cosmos had yet to play their weekend game against FC Edmonton) and pushes them further ahead in first place in the Fall standings. They sit a comfortable five points ahead of the second place Minnesota United. With only five games remaining in the Fall Season, the Fury are poised to take a spot in the NASL post season Championship. They return home for their next game against FC Edmonton next Sunday, October 4 at TD Place.