Fury Opt For Depth In Front of GoalA trio of strong players put this unit among the top going into the NASL
by Jonathan Bagg | Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The Ottawa Fury are assembling a remarkable squad going into the first season of the NASL, with a strong mix youth, experience and players hungry to take the next step.
Nowhere is that more true than with the shot-stopping unit. The Fury signed its third keeper last week, giving the club 3 strong options – each capable of applying pressure for that first spot.
A look at the shot stoppers
The first announced goalkeeper for the club was Marcel DeBellis, a 22-year-old keeper from Erin Mills, Ontario, who spent the last 5 years between the second and fourth tiers of Italian football, and with Benfica U-19. He brings a level of experience that is rare for North Americans of his age.
“He was in a professional environment and had chances,” says David Bellemare, the Fury’s goalkeeping coach. “After two days in tryouts we knew he had what it takes, we spoke to him.”
The second announced signing was Chad Bush, who played the previous season with the Ottawa Fury PDL side, earning the title of best goalkeeper of the year in the league (the youngest ever to earn that title at 19) with only 1 goal allowed.
Ottawa manager Marc Dos Santos observed him in action in the later part of the season and invited him to training camp, telling the player that he had the skills needed to play in the NASL. Despite earning a scholarship to Duke, a college that is strong in both athletics and academics, Bush decided that he wanted a professional career.
“We look everywhere, but we have to make sure we look in our own backyard - we produce good players,” says Bellemare. “At that point we had two goalies with tremendous potential, great experience for their age … but we needed someone with pro experience.”
That’s where 26-year-old American Devala Gorrick comes in. Having spent youth time with clubs like Bayer Leverkusen and Austria Wien, and having played in Puerto Rico, Sweden and the Thai Premier League, he brings the goalkeeping squad a level of steadiness that comes only with time-served.
“After 3 sessions, Marc and I met and we said ‘I think we found the guy’,” says Bellemare. “He wants that game, he loves to be pushed and he brings to that group the composure we need.”
Numbers 1, 2, 3
Bellemare is cautious to rank his keepers, but points to the inevitable conclusions that can be seen “on paper” with Gorrick as No. 1, DeBellis behind him and Bush as No. 3.
“They have to get along. I treat all of them the same,” says Bellemare. “If I want my number one ready for the game I need my number two and my number three pushing.”
A cut above
So how does that selection stack up against NASL competition?
On paper, extremely well.
“We did something back in December and we looked at the 7 top goalkeepers right now in the NASL. We looked at them and where they played before,” says Bellemare. “They came from college, but not top colleges for most of them, played for a PDL team and [then] they go to the NASL and after one or two years they become top goalies in the league.”
“We have the PDL goalkeeper of the year - our ‘No. 3. Our ‘No. 2’ went to Italy. Devala spent five years outside North America and challenged himself,” he added. “We have a group of three goalkeepers that went the extra mile. We have 3 goalkeepers that in 2 or 3 years could be the goalkeeper of the year in the NASL.”
Obviously, much will depend on the backline, with leaders like Omar Jarun and Ramón Soria playing big roles in defensive successes.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see 3 ambitious players vie for starts this season. This kind of depth will certainly help keep Ottawa competitive as the season wears on and as injuries take their toll.
It’s one more reason to be optimistic as Ottawa carries its torch towards NASL 2014.
NEXT UP: April 12 – Ottawa Fury vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, Lockhart Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. TV TBD.