The beginning of the NASL Fall season didn’t start out as expected for the Ottawa Fury FC. After a successful Spring season in which Ottawa finished in 6th place, the Fury were hoping to build on their strong start and push for a playoff spot as they moved from Carleton U. into the new TD Place at Lansdowne. Well, the Fall Season did not start out as planned, after drawing FC Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium, the Fury went on to lose the next four matches and five out of the next six and saw the club go goalless in 410 minutes (4 1/2 matches) which saw the Fury plummet in the standings to last place in both the Fall and Combined tables. Just when all hope was lost the Fury were able to go on an eight match streak that saw them win four (including 3 away in a row) and draw two, and climb back into the playoff picture and even achieve their first win at TD Place. There’s no question that this was a team effort, but three players stood out and were the backbone in taking the Fury from the basement to climbing up the NASL table and making them one of the hottest teams in the league.
After the surprising signing by the Fury who had three keepers already, including Devala Gorrick who was arguably Ottawa’s MVP during the Spring season, Romuald Peiser started the Fall season on the bench. Replacing Gorrick in the starting XI after a 3:0 thrashing in Carolina, Peiser began his Fury career a bit shaky giving up two goals in back-to-back losses. By the third match Peiser became comfortable in the Fury net and became a real force in the league and an on-field leader the still new and young Fury defense desperately needed. Peiser’s greatest game was in Tampa Bay as he made a couple of acrobatic highlight-reel save to preserve the clean sheet and victory for the Fury. It is no coincidence that the Fury’s great run has come at the time its veteran keeper has really stepped into the role Marc Dos Santos envisioned for him when he was signed over the Summer.
Last 8 matches: 3 Clean Sheets, 0.875 GAA, 2 x NASL Team of the Week
A day-1 starter for the Ottawa Fury FC, big things we’re expected from the young Brazilian winger and he delivered quickly with an NASL Player of the Week, 2-goal, 1-assist, performance during the Fury’s first ever win against Carolina at Carleton U. Oliver failed to reproduce this form for the remainder of the Spring and early Fall season before succumbing to an injury. Oliver returned as a sub against Tampa Bay on August 30th, and then again a week later when he came on against Carolina when he was able to get his head on a cross in injury time to tie the game in front of the rocking TD Place faithful. Oliver would go on to score the deciding goal in Tampa Bay the next week followed up by a goal and an assist in Atlanta two weeks later. He would later add another assist against Atlanta, during the Fury’s first win at TD Place. Oliver’s clutch return to form from injury was the offensive spark the Fury desperately needed that helped the Fury become one of the hottest and most dangerous teams in the NASL.
Last 5 matches: 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 1 x NASL Team of the Week
Richie Ryan, the first captain in Ottawa Fury FC history, had a rough start to Ottawa’s inaugural season in the NASL. The veteran Irish midfielder had trouble coping to the North American game as well as having to be the catalyst in midfield surrounded by a team full of mostly strangers. Ryan struggled with defensive responsibilities and decision making while handling the physical nature of the NASL. Ryan was always flashing his incredible vision and passing skill throughout the Spring and early Fall season, but more often than not the mistakes more than overshadowed the positive. In the same match that Romuald Peiser started in his first match, Ryan was injured in pre-game warm up and was replaced with Mauro Eustaquio, who had a really good game against the league leaders. Ryan returned to the lineup the week after and has been a force ever since. Mistakes are almost nonexistent and his pass selection and decision making is unmatched in the NASL. Ryan has transformed himself into the leader of the team and the face of the young franchise. His goal/assist stats will never be flashy, however he has been the victim of countless heavy challenges including being the victim of two red card offences in the two wins versus Atlanta. The highlight of Ryan’s (and the Fury’s) year was the jaw-dropping freekick against Minnesota that was awarded the NASL Play of the Week. Ryan’s skill with the ball and his leadership off it goes hand-in-hand with the recent success Ottawa has achieved.
Last 8 matches: 1 Goal, 1 x NASL Play of the Week
While the playoffs are not in the cards for the Ottawa Fury FC this year, this team has the ability to really make some waves and garner some respect in the NASL before the end of the season. With five games left can these players remain in form? Will another group of players emerge to take the Fury to another level? Sinisa Ubiparipovic has been stellar all season and can break a game open at any moment. Mason Trafford (who shows up in every Fury photo somehow) has been a rock in the back line. Vini Dantas looks more dangerous the more playing time he gets and was the offence in the Fury’s first win at TD Place. Only time will tell.
Blog Smith @BlogFuryFC