After this weekend’s game against Canadian rivals FC Edmonton, it’s official; Ottawa Fury FC have secured their spot in the NASL Championship.
The Ottawa side came into the game off of a perfect 3 game road trip gaining all 9 available points. Besides individual players having strong performances, the entire squad has a chemistry that seems to go beyond just being teammates. ”We’ve gelled more in the last 4 weeks more than we did in three months last year. And it shows on the field. That understanding of each other obviously helps when you play close games especially,” explains veteran midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic. It’s this connection that is propelling the squad to the post season. The Fury now sit atop both the Fall and Combined NASL standings, ahead of second place Minnesota United by five and two points respectively.
FC Edmonton were coming into Saturday’s game on a streak of their own having won their previous three games, undefeated in four. Sitting third in the Fall Standings and vying for their own spot in the post season the Edmonton side is not one to be taken lightly with their dangerous top scorers Lance Laing, and Daryl Fordyce. However, the squad was to be without Hanson Boakai who was away with the Canadian U23 team in their Olympic Qualifying campaign, along with Ottawa’s own Mauro Eustaquio.
The Fury’s lineup remained relatively unchanged with Romuald Peiser in goal and defenders Ryan Richter, Rafael Alves, Colin Falvey and Mason Trafford. Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Richie Ryan and Drew Beckie started in the midfield supporting Paulo Jr, Tommy Heinemann, and Andrew Wiedeman on the front line.
The Ottawa Fury came out strong in the first half in front of just over 6,000 fans at TD Place Stadium with Rafael Alves recording the first shot on net at only the 6-minute mark. FC Edmonton would respond with a shot of their own from Dustin Corea, but Peiser confidently punched it away. In the 23rd minute, the Brazilian Paulo Jr, light on his feet, skipped the ball past FC Edmonton’s defense and sent the perfect pass right to midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic who tapped it passed Matt VanOekel to put the Fury on the scoreboard. Although possession slightly favoured the visitors, the home side seemed firmly in control of game from start to finish. The Fury secured their win in late in the second half with another goal from Ubiparipovic who’s initial shot was blocked, but he picked up the rebound and sailed the ball over VanOekel’s outstretched hands to put the game away 2-0. The clean sheet means Ottawa keeper Romuald Peiser has tied the modern day NASL record of 13. “It’s cool! It’s cool for an old guy to make some record,” he smiled.
In only their second year in existence, the Ottawa Fury have made it to the post season, something that some teams can’t accomplish until their ninth season. Amidst the celebrations, coach Marc Dos Santos was quick to acknowledge all of the work put into getting to this point so early on in the life of the club. “I have to thank everybody. This is not something you accomplish alone; players, coaching staff, front office, President, and owners. People believed in this team. People knew what we were able to do.” But their work is not over. There are four games left and Dos Santos has the Fury focused on winning the NASL Fall Season. “It’s going be very tough because Minnesota’s a very strong team. So we have to focus on winning the Fall and after talk about the playoffs. It’s still far away.” Captain Richie Ryan agreed, “we want to play a semi final here in front of our home fans. That’s our next objective. We’re top of the table as it is, so it’s up to us with four games left to make sure we stay there.”
The Fury play their next game in Tampa Bay this coming Saturday, October 10 at 7:30pm ET.