It’s safe to say the Ottawa Fury have had a successful off season and preseason. Head coach, Marc Dos Santos, was busy all through the off season making changes and adding players to strengthen and add depth to the squad. When it comes to preseason, we saw the Fury go undefeated with four wins and one draw. And of course the big news is the team acquired Canadian National Team captain Julian DeGuzman. The NASL Spring Season officially kicks of this Saturday, April 4 and the Fury’s first game is against the Carolina Railhawks who are known to be a strong side in their home stadium. This will be the first real test of the new squad and a chance for us to see how all the changes affect the team. Here’s what we think are things to watch for this year.
3 Players to Watch in 2015
Patryk Misik: At just 20, Patryk Misik has already been playing in Poland for two years on WKS Slask Wroclaw’s reserve team. Preseason games have shown him to be a very mature player with a keen ability to read and anticipate plays. Watch for him to be paired with more experienced players like Ubiparipovic, Ryan and DeGuzman that allow him to use his skill and develop his game.
Falvey/Alves: I realize this is cheating a bit, but I had to mention these guys together. Look for the pairing of Falvey/Alves as the central defenders to be used regularly. The two link up well and are a solid force in front of Peiser. Falvey has already shown to be a strong and proactive defender, skillfully wielding precise tackles to protect the goal. When paired with Alves, the two communicate well and form a solid central defense.
Mauro Eustaquio: When Mauro Eustaquio saw playing time last year, he showed a surprising maturity in his game for a player so young. At 21 years old, Eustaquio has been capped for the Canadian National Team’s U20 squad and shows a lot of promise as a midfielder. With the Fury having such a deep midfield this year, Eustaquio may have to fight for playing time but that also means we will see an even stronger, more improved player when he does play.
Prediction by Kendra Lee:
Last year the Fury finished a solid 6th place in the Spring Season. Not bad for their first ever NASL half season playing together. The Fall Season was a bit more difficult for the squad as they finished 9th bringing them to 8th place in the overall combined table. With all of the work the players have put in individually in the off-season and the positive undefeated preseason campaign, expect the squad to start off strong in the Spring Season. As I seem to be on the optimistic side of things with my predictions, I’m going to go with 5 wins, 3 draws and 3 loses for a total of 18 points in the Spring Season. Last year, that would have been enough for 3rd place but with a two more games added this year, I predict a 5th place finish for the Fury in the Spring Season.
The split season that the NASL uses, has its positives and negatives. On the one hand, it gives teams a chance to regroup and reevaluate after playing all the teams in the league. On the other hand, it can slow down the momentum of a strong team. With the added scheduling pressure of the Women’s World Cup this summer in Ottawa, the Fury are going to have to really focus on their own development during the break between seasons. They may have to practice and train in less than ideal locations and conditions and this may affect them going into the fall season. I think they may start off slow in the fall season but finish off strong. I predict the Fury finish 6th in the overall combined table.
Prediction by Carlos Verde:
While Fury FC improved substantially all over the field, so did everybody else in the NASL. With the likes of New York, Tampa, San Antonio, and Minnesota having loaded up on outside talent during the offseason, it will be very tough for Ottawa to crack the top four. The team will outperform its 2014 self in moving out of the bottom three, but it’s unlikely that they can crack the top four listed above and make the NASL’s ‘Championship’ playoffs.
Ottawa should be fine defensively, boasting one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Frenchman Romuald Peiser, along with some of the steadiest centrebacks in the NASL. The midfield appears, on paper, to have improved from last year. Gone is tortoise-like Tony Donatelli, and in is Canadian international Julian De Guzman, along with the aforementioned Misik.
The attack remains the biggest question mark for the 2015 season, with Tom Heinemann and TFC reject Andrew Wiedeman set to duke it out for minutes up top. Oliver and Paulo Junior should start the majority of matches on either wing, and Carl Haworth will be called upon to spell them off the bench or if one gets injured.
If the strike force can get the job done, this team is capable of a 5th place finish, within five or less points of the Championship. However, if Paulo Junior’s two-year goalscoring drought continues, and Heinemann and Oliver fail to take the bulk of the load upon their shoulders, it could be a frustrating, mid-table type of year for Ottawa.