Over the past several years Ottawa Fury FC, and its supporters, have enjoyed the ups and downs that only the beautiful game can provide. This includes playing in the PDL, NASL and the Voyageurs Cup. This Saturday they will embark on a new adventure in the United Soccer League. Fury FC, along with Tampa Bay Rowdies, made the move from the North American Soccer League during the offseason. Fury hope their current level of confidence will help them prevail in their USL debut against St Louis FC this Saturday following a successful preseason campaign.
It will be new surroundings for Fury in the USL, however the off-season goal remained the same as they were in the NASL, to build a roster capable of making the playoffs and pushing towards a league championship. Dalglish has finally had an offseason where he could build his squad without inheriting a locker room and roster of players he didn’t sign. The Scotsman has been able to bring in some of his own signing targets and build a team that is filled with youth and agility mixed with some leadership and experience.
Perhaps one of Dalglish’s most prolific signings this winter is Callum Irving who will take over for 2015 Golden Glove winning Fury keeper, Romuald Peiser for the number one keeper position. Irving, 24, is beginning to emerge on the Canadian Men’s National Team scene and has experience playing in the USL. Backing up Irving is last season’s number three keeper, Andrew MacRae, and new arrival David Pulmin.
With the departure of Rafael Alvez during the offseason, Dalglish has brought in former Puerto Rico FC central defender, Ramon Martin Del Campo. The Mexican native, who holds American citizenship, will be the centerpiece of Dalglish’s back three, with Irishman Shane McEleney and Colorado native Kyle Venter providing depth in central defence. Ottawa native Eddie Edward returns for 2017, providing speed and strength in defence and out wide in the midfield. Englishman Onua Obasi and the new arrival, Jamaican Andrae Campbell will do the same. Rounding out the defense are two signings from Montreal Impact, Aron Mkungilwa and Thomas Meilleur-Giguere.
Lance Rozeboom was named captain in the offseason with Julian De Guzman retiring and taking on an assistant coaching role with Ottawa. Alongside Rozeboom in the Fury midfield are the returning Ryan Williams, Jamar Dixon and Gerardo Bruna. Adding to the midfield, Dalglish has brought in Englishmen Jonathan Barden and Sergio Manesio. Jimmy-Shammar Sanon joins Fury from Montreal Impact to round out the midfield.
Ottawa Fury’s attack will feature a familiar face, long time Fury striker Carl Haworth, returning for his fifth year with Ottawa. He will be joined by Spanish-native Sito Seoane, Steevan Dos Santos and American Tucker Hume
The squad consists of some signings that Dalglish has coached in the past, as well as several who have played in Scandinavia and Britain/Ireland. The squad appears to be very youthful, skilled and extremely fit. They play in an attacking 3-4-3/3-5-2 formation and from preseason action they hold the ball with confidence and attack with speed. The squad seems to be built to play entertaining, attacking football and Dalglish will no doubt hope to see the squad get off to a good start vs St Louis FC on Saturday evening.
Heading into the 2017 USL season there is quite high expectations among the Fury support, with many expecting the club to comfortably make the playoffs and be one of the more competitive teams in the league. Coming from the NASL, there are obvious reasons for these expectations and Dalglish will find himself under pressure if results don’t go his way. The Fury supporters will be hoping for entertaining wins.
In the past Fury have been strong defensively but lacked the firepower to be a club that was scoring several goals each week. The likes of Obasi, Campbell and Dixon will provide Fury with speed down the flanks while Williams and Rozeboom control the ball through the middle. The forwards are all versatile in their abilities and can switch between a flat three, one centre forward and two sitting back or one sitting behind two strikers.
“A dominate force” is how Dalglish described his belief for Fury in 2017 after they beat MLS side Montreal Impact 2-0 in a closed door friendly last Friday. The club has a solid pre-season campaign which included a trip to Florida. They finished with a record of 5-1-2, with notable wins over Impact, St Louis FC and OKC Energy FC and losses to USL sides Rochester Rhinos and Toronto FC II.
The trip to Florida provided an important bonding period for a roster that is trying to form chemistry together. It helped build confidence having wins over St Louis and OKC Energy. Despite losses in Canada vs Rochester and Toronto FC II, Fury finished off the pre-season schedule with a good win over Montreal Impact. The squad will no doubt have confidence heading onto the road for their first few matches in the USL
In The End
Fury FC have fairly high expectations to meet this season, and it seems as though Dalglish is confident that has built a club capable of meeting those expectations. Pre-season results, as insignificant as they are, will provide the squad with confidence heading into regular season play and has given the team something to build off of.
Ottawa Fury kick off this Saturday against St Louis FC at 8:30pm EST, and host Toronto FC II in their home opener on April 22nd at 2pm at Lansdowne Park. You can catch all Ottawa Fury games on the USL Youtube channel, and the club announced a broadcasting schedule that includes Rogers TV and TSN 1200 earlier this week.