Ottawa Fury Expectations Riding on Dos Santos

Manager Marc Dos Santos has hefty weight on his shoulders as team awaits debut in 2014
by Jonathan Bagg   |   Monday, February 24, 2014

Bycolored – column on Ottawa Fury & the Ottawa area soccer scene.

‘To whom much is given, much is expected’  

That’s what Ottawa Fury FC Manager Marc Dos Santos’ Twitter profile says.

It’s good. Not because its Luke 12:48, but because it’s true.

Not too many coaches get the opportunity to build a team from the ground up. So when Dos Santos was offered the chance to steer Ottawa Fury FC into its inaugural season in the NASL, he jumped at it.

“You have a white board, you have no names, you just have an amount that you can spend and you start from there,” says Dos Santos. “That challenge, I think, was missing in my career – until now.”

It’s a historic moment for Ottawa and the NASL. The decisions Dos Santos makes in advance of the club’s inaugural year will impact the club’s style of play and successes for years to come.

The way Dos Santos sees it, there’s two ways that expansion teams can go about building their club.

The first consists of going to market and getting the best players you possibly can, and then deciding style of play and formation based on the players’ attributes.

“The second approach – the one we took – was ‘let’s develop our model of play: How do we want to play? What type of identity would we like our team to have?’

“That was the first thing we did in July. Our system of play is going to be a 4-3-3 that could develop into a 4-4-2 in a diamond.”

With a system defined, the club can seek out players that can “maximize” that style of play. And by putting the style at the centre of the equation – instead of the individual player – the organization hopes it can build a club that can perform in the long run.

 “If tomorrow I leave or Richie Ryan leaves, or Nicki Patterson leaves… well, the model stays. The club has strength. At the end of the day, if I leave in two years, in five years or in ten, my concern is that we leave a strong foundation.”

That’s a challenging task for Dos Santos and his team – which includes an impressive amount of experience in brother Phillip Dos Santos (technical director), Martin Nash (assistant coach) and David Bellemare (goalkeeping coach).

Dos Santos explains the team needs to be creative, because building a team on an NASL budget is very difficult. They’re looking for players that are hungry and ambitious, that may see the club as a good stepping stone in their career. But he’s straight with players about the opportunity.

“We don’t lie to players. We’re bringing in guys with character, and we say ‘our first year is going to be growing pains’. We’re not going to be Barcelona. But today with the core of the team, the guys we’ve already agreed and we’ll announce soon, we’re going to be a very good team.”

Sixteen players in (at time of writing) and announcements coming quick, the team is indeed looking good. While there aren’t too many household names at this level of the game, almost all of the selections have noteworthy experience or accomplishments.

It’s a list that contains a lot of experience in midfield with Ryan Richie, 2010 PFAI player of the year, and midfielder Nicki Patterson, a former MVP with the Charleston Battery.

Then there’s the young Brazilian attacker Oliver Minatel who’s plied his trade in Portugal and Holland, fellow country man Maykon, a left back/left winger from Cypriot First Division champions AEL Limassol and defender Ramón Soria, who captained Villareal’s reserves.

There are also several young Canadians with national youth team experience, such as forward Carl Haworth (already a hometown favourite and club top scorer via the Fury PDL), defender Andrés Fresenga (who just got a senior call up), defender Drew Beckie, who played with the Fury PDL and was selected by the Columbus Crew (28th overall) and two young Canadian goalies in Marcel DeBellis and Chad Bush (also played with Fury PDL).

A little more than a week ago, the Fury announced the addition of forward Tommy Heinemann and midfielder Siniša Ubiparipovic, who have amassed 125 MLS games between them.  The current roster is as follows:

GK: Marcel DeBellis, Chad Bush

DEF: Ramon Soria, Omar Jarun, Andrés Fresenga, Drew Beckie

MID: Nicki Paterson, Richie Ryan, Mauro Eustaquio, Hamza Elias, Maykon, Sinisa Ubiparipovic

FWD: Oliver Minatel, Carl Haworth, Tom Heinemann, Pierre-Rudolph Mayard

Needless to say, Ottawa fans – who have been waiting so long – have a lot to look forward to.

Owner John Pugh has put his trust in the Dos Santos brothers by handing them the keys to the club and the hopes of a city. And it appears, by all accounts, that they are staying true to Luke - and rising to meet expectations.

NEXT UP: April 12 – Ottawa Fury vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, Lockhart Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. TV TBD.

Jonathan BAGG

University of Ottawa
Club Domestic:
Ottawa Fury
Club Foreign:
Feyenoord Rotterdam, THFC
Jonathan has been waiting for the arrival of professional soccer in Canada’s capital while closely following it at lower levels. His passion for soccer was borne out of watching the Oranje play total football. His son’s middle name happens to be Arjen.