The Ottawa Fury FC will begin the NASL Fall Season looking to improve on a 6th place Spring Season that saw the team develop drastically under coach Marc Dos Santos’ leadership. Dos Santos utilized many different combination of players and formations, sometimes out of necessity rather than tactical decision making, and the team is noticeably more improved than they were to start the season in April. Now that the Fury are set to move into their new home TD Place at Lansdowne Park, there was little doubt that there would be a few moves over the off-season to strengthen and deepen the squad going into the 18-match Fall Season.
Defender Ryan Richter, 25, was finally officially loaned to the Fury from Toronto FC after more than a month after the Sun’s Chris Hofley reported he was training with the club at Carelton U. A much needed move to shore up the CB’s, as the team can now leave Drew Beckie at RB instead of moving him into the middle whenever Mason Trafford or Omar Jarun come out of the lineup. A loan for a 25 year-old player may suggest that his move could become permanent later on, as Richter isn’t exactly a developmental player looking for playing time.
Midfielder Zakaria Messoudi, 20, did not have his loan renewed past the Spring Season and was returned to the Montreal Impact. Messoudi’s only appearance was as a late sub in the FC Edmonton V-Cup game here back in April. Although he showed he has wonderful skill and technical ability, there was no reason to keep him here if he was not able to get of the field.
And then this…
The Ottawa Fury FC signed French keeper Romuald Peiser who will turn 35 in August and to make way, midfielder Hamza Elias, 21, was released. Elias is now the Fury’s first non-loan signing no longer at the club. Peiser was no doubt brought in to be the club’s #1 keeper for the long term future. The Fury have even given Peiser the #1 shirt, generally reserved for THE keeper on a team. It was no secret that Dos Santos was searching for an “experienced” keeper before training camp started in March. It was reported that the Fury were about to sign current Vancouver Whitecaps FC Italian GK Paolo Tornaghi, back in February, before Tornaghi reportedly turned down the offer. The result of the signing of Peiser means that Devala Gorrick, 27, who was arguably one of the Fury’s best players in the Spring, will be demoted into a backup role ahead of Marcel DeBellis, 23, and Chad Bush, 20, both of whom haven’t seen a minute of action so far in 2014.
Does this make the Ottawa Fury FC a better team?
Romauld Peiser is an upgrade over Devala Gorrick, no question, however Peiser’s addition meant the release of Elias. Is Peiser an upgrade over Gorrick plus the loss of Elias? I don’t think it is. Gorrick, while allowing many goals in the Spring didn’t allow too many that he should have had. While the team was gelling at the start, the defensive unit took a little more time to do so. While the CB’s, Trafford, Jarun and Beckie played well throughout the Spring Season, the RB and LB position exposed the Fury keeper time-and-time again. When Beckie is not playing RB, Andres Fresenga and Phillipe Davies (who plays mid/forward, so it’s understandable) we’re defensive liabilities for the most part and Maykon at LB, is counted on to provide offence and is often caught up field. Richie Ryan, playing a deep CDM position, was throughout the Spring Season caught out of position on numerous occasions which led to goals, the V-Cup match in Edmonton especially. Even with these defensive issues, Gorrick had a remarkable season, saving the team on more than one occasion. Elias didn’t play often and was prone to yellow cards (2 for diving, 1 for time wasting), but did provide versatility and an energy that the Fury midfield definitely lacks. When he got the ball he would, for the most part, run straight toward the opponents net beating defenders and creating chances with his underrated passing ability. He is a great change-of-pace player that was invaluable as a super sub late in games. The loss of Elias now creates a depth problem at midfield, with only 5 healthy players (Niki Patterson is still injured with that day-to-day injury he suffered in the opener) there isn’t much wiggle room if the team suffers injuries, a problem it has already faced earlier this year. Also, what does this move say to the rest of the squad? If you are one of the better performing players on the team your position is not safe, and you can be replaced, at great cost, if we find someone (with a Portuguese connection) that can come in and take your job? The goalkeeping has been slightly upgraded, but at the cost of downgrading the overall team, in my view.
Why not upgrade a position of need instead?
This move was shocking to most as goalkeeping (and maybe striker) was one of the spots on the Fury roster that didn’t need addressing. As much as I like seeing Carl Haworth on the Fury and expect him to be a big contributor and star player in the future, he’s shouldn’t be the everyday starting RW on this team right now. Surely Marc Dos Santos when seeing how many goals Gorrick had conceded, saw how few goals were scored or set up by the RW position. Haworth isn’t a very accomplished crosser and his play in open space is suspect. Opposing teams late in the season, most notably San Antonio, would flood the left side shutting Oliver down and allowing Haworth space and time, that he could not utilize effectively. With Tommy Heinemann now fully fit, he’s going to need service into the box, and Haworth isn’t going to provide it to him with any regularity. Certainly a move for a foreign natural RW, would have improved this team much more. The addition of a RW, would have opened up Oliver much more as well as Ubiparipovic and Donatelli, who have been counted on to deliver most of the Fury’s offense.
Time will tell if this move was really worth the cost. The Fury can also make more moves down the line as they have space on the squad still, but at the time of this writing no deals are in the works and no rumors are circling.
Blog Smith @BlogFuryFC