On the eve of the 2015 NASL season I ask the four questions surrounding the Ottawa Fury as they head into their second season of professional soccer.
1) Where will the goals come from?
If you were to poll Fury fans about the clubs biggest let down of the 2014 season, goal scoring would be at the top of that list, narrowly beating out Garbage Pail Smoke Shows and Bon Jovi. The Fury were second last in the league last year putting balls into the net and did not re-sign the top two players in assist last year: Donatelli and Dantas. Additions to the 2015 Fury forwards were: Paulo Jr, zero goals since 2012; and Andrew Wiedeman, 4 goals in 44 MLS games. Heinemann is healthy heading into the season, Oliver has room to improve on his team leading goal scoring form a year ago and Haworth has already scored twice as many goals in preseason this year than hid did in all of 2014.
2) Attendance Up or Attendance Down?
2014 was a strange year for attendance at Fury matches, first off they played at Carelton U’s Keith Harris Stadium in the Spring Season with a max of just over 3k, and second their first game in TD Place broke the NASL modern day record in attendance with over 14k, with a little help from OSEG’s ticket packaging. 2015 is a new year and a full year at TD Place, and most of the construction has been completed and walk up crowds should increase because of it. The new broadcasting deal allowing fans to watch away games over Rogers 22 and steaming at ottawafuryfc.com for FREE, should increase both the visibility of the club locally and allow casual fans a way to follow the team without any monetary investment. Having an average crowd above 10k is years away in my opinion, but with the right marketing and improved results an average of 6 to 7k per match isn’t out of the question, however this will take a bit more effort on OSEG’s part to advertise to the city and not to its already established supporters.
3) Too Many Chiefs?
Leadership, has long been a trait desired by coach Marc Dos Santos since he began to first build the team back in late 2013. Richie Ryan the clubs captain is joined this year by the Canadian Men’s National Team captain Julian de Guzman, and Mike Randolph the Atlanta Silverback’s captain in ’14. With strong leaders in keeper Romuald Peiser and in defense with Rafael Alves, Dos Santos will need to ensure these strong personalities are on the same page. With the club’s wealth at leadership, the Fury should be less prone to those last minute losses and draws that plagued the season in ’14, however, they will be more susceptible to clash if results don’t go their way and the many leaders on the team are not in sync with one another.
4) Will TD Place become a Fortress or Bouncy Castle?
No doubt the switch from Carleton to TD Place was a positive for the players, coaches and staff last June, unfortunately the wins did not follow them. For some reason the success found at Keith Harris was nowhere to be found at Lansdowne. With only one win, against the last place team no less, TD Place became a fortress…for the opposing teams. It could be said that since it was a new Stadium it was new for the Fury players as well, and they didn’t understand and learn the little nuances and differences the field held until late in the season. Perhaps, it’ the barren North Side stands and the noise of the crowd doesn’t fill the stadium and therefore acts much more like a neutral sight match. Either way if the Fury are to succeed in this league they are going to need a fortress in their backyard, not a bouncy castle.
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Blog Smith @BlogFuryFC