The Ottawa Fury took on the Fort Lauderdale strikers this Saturday April 25 at TD Place. The team was without head Coach Marc Dos Santos due to a death in the family. Assistant coach Martin Nash stepped up to direct the squad. This game would prove to be a big one for Nash as it was his first in the head coach role and he will need to step into the position again as Dos Santos has been suspended from the Voyageurs Cup game against FC Edmonton on Wednesday April 29. Dos Santos was suspended for an altercation with the officials following the first leg of the competition in Ottawa. Dos Santos has complete faith in the team and the rest of his coaching staff in his absence, telling the Ottawa Sun, “Nobody’s bigger than the club here. We have a lot of leaders.”
The Fury elected to use the more aggressive 4-2-3-1 formation again for this game. It seems Dos Santos is shifting to this as his go to formation rather than the 4-3-3 he was so famous for using last season. Romuald Peiser continues his duties as starting goal keeper. The back line was slightly modified with Mike Randolph starting on the left in place of Brandon Poltronieri, Colin Flavey and Rafael Alves assume the middle, and Ryan Richter continues at right back. Julian DeGuzman and Nicki Paterson played just in front of the defenders with Paulo Junior, Oliver and Carl Haworth playing just in front supporting striker Tommy Heinemann. All eyes would be on Alves as he faced his former team for the first time in Fury colours.
The Fury are quickly developing a pattern of having a strong confident opening first half and this game was no different. Paulo Jr opened the half by getting a shot off in the 2nd minute and the pressure didn’t stop there. In the 10th minute Strikers’ keeper Joe Nasco went down after a great shot by Oliver but things got messy in the attempt to get the rebound. Nasco was hurt and left the game to later be taken to hospital for treatment. Strikers’ third keeper Lionel Brown stepped in to replace him. Soon after the Fury’s own goal keeper would be called into action, making a big save off of a direct shot from Fort Lauderdale midfielder PC. The Fury continued to play an attacking, albeit less intense, registering 7 shots on net. But it was the Strikers who opened the scoring in the 41st minute when forward Jose Angulo put away a ball off of a corner from PC.
The Ottawa Fury FC came into the second half with a lot of energy and had some chances early on. Tommy Heinemann had a good chance in the 48th minute and was pushed down in the box in but did not end up getting the call. The Fury kept the pressure on and in the 57th minute Oliver was subbed off for midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic who instantly made an impact on the game. His first touch on the ball was a pass to Heinemann who had a great chance on net but the shot went wide. Fort Lauderdale countered and in the 64th minute Strikers midfielder Marlon Freitas lobbed a ball over Peiser from 20 yards away. The Fury kept pushing and in the 78th minute, were rewarded for their effort. Midfielder Ubiparipovic sent a corner kick into the box where defender Rafael Alves headed the ball past his former teammate Lionel Brown. The Fury’s efforts would not be enough and in stoppage time Jose Angulo would net a final goal for Fort Lauderdale when he got past the Ottawa defenders and beat Peiser on the rebound to make it 3-1 for the Strikers as a final score.
After the game coach Martin Nash was disappointed but saw the positives of the match as well. “We keep scoring every game but one goal a game, it’s not enough in this league. You gotta be able to put that second chance away. Today we got down and we fought back tremendously. The guys put a great amount of effort in.” The Fury have been busy lately with 3 games back to back and little rest in between. But Nash says that they cannot use that as an excuse. “If it were the end of the season I would be a little more cautious of fatigue but it’s earlier on in the year. We had two full days rest and we didn’t push the players too much so I don’t know if we can make any excuses about being tired.” Forward Carl Haworth agrees. “Speaking personally, I don’t feel much fatigue I’m pretty sure for everyone else it’s relatively the same. We’re professionals and we’re supposed to be doing this everyday anyway so I don’t think tiredness is really an excuse.” The team must refocus quickly in order to prepare for what will be a tough Voyageurs Cup away game in Edmonton on Wednesday April 29. In order to advance, the Fury must win by 3 goals. Haworth seems hopeful they can achieve that. “I’d say all of the pressure is on them. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ve just got to go there and try and create as many chances and score as many goals as we can and hopefully come back and be able to go to Vancouver.”
Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fury.