What We’ve Learned From the Fury So FarSeveral positives for the club despite losses in the league
by Jonathan Bagg | Monday, April 21, 2014
It’s been baptism by fire for the Ottawa Fury, with some tough losses and a very challenging schedule in coming weeks. The club will play four games over a two week period starting , including two Voyageurs Cup games and two league games.
The club’s first 2 games, a 2-0 loss to the Strikers despite solid possession and the heartbreak late-late 2-1 loss to the Loons, leave some room for improvement as Head Coach Marc Dos Santos works towards getting the full potential out of his squad.
There were also several positives. So here’s a quick look at just a few things we’ve learned from the first 2 matches:
Have ball, need finishing
In training and preseason, we heard a lot about a style of play based on possession. Fury dominated possession in the first match (63% to 37%) and, while they had the ball significantly less in the second matchup, it was not totally lopsided (42% to 58%).
Converting that possession into chances – real chances – is obviously another matter. The Fury have the quality to score, but need just a little more cohesion as they move forward to make it happen. That might be related to my next point.
The team has depth, but needs starters
The fact is that Ottawa has been competitive even without some key starters. But without players like Nicki Patterson and Sinisa Ubiparipovic, the team a lacks some vision moving through midfield and into the attacking third. Based on the Fury’s play last game, someone like Tom Heinemann would have helped scrape out a goal with his physical presence.
Hopefully Patterson and Ubiparipovic, who are day-to-day, will be back in time for some of the upcoming games. Fans really care about the Voyageurs cup and – as Montreal learned the hard way a few years back – they want the club to give its all. These experienced players help set the tempo and having one or both of these on-field leaders could make the difference.
Maykon loves to attack
Maykon likes to move the ball forward and has been responsible for a good portion of the build-up play we’ve seen so far. We can definitely expect him to set up some goals this season. On the flipside, his propensity to move up the left flank has left gaps in defense.
This was exploited by the Strikers, with a dangerous counter leaving Maykon too far up field and the ball in the Fury net.
To counter this, Richie Ryan has been spending a lot of time as a sweeper (to be expected) and hanging back to help fill the void for Maykon (less so). If the coach wants to tinker in the next few games, it might be interesting to bring in Ramon Soria and free Maykon up to provide crosses, throw-ins and corner kicks.
Dantas is in the books
You don’t usually become a legend on a single goal, but Vini Dantas has made it into the history books by scoring the team’s first-ever league goal. He’s now in with Danny Dichio (Toronto), Eric Hassli (Vancouver), Davy Arnaud (Montreal) and Shaun Saiko (Edmonton).
Vini Dantas is going to be an important player over the next few games, especially with the team’s injuries. Despite the late loss on Saturday, that goal means a lot for Ottawa’s state of mind: they know they can score, they just need to keep the pressure on and stay focused.
It’s an expansion club after all
Dos Santos made it clear that the club would not be using any expansion year excuses when the going got tough. But I can:
This club is only 2 competitive games into its existence. It has everything it needs to succeed in its players, in its coaching staff and within the organization. The underlying formula looks solid and, if we can read into the club’s past accomplishments, it’s only a matter of time before the wins start coming in.
Ottawa is ready for pro soccer
Perhaps the single, most important take home from Saturday’s game against the Loons is the fact that Ottawa is ready for professional soccer. The Fury played in front of a sell-out crowd at their temporary home at Carleton University. The supporters section was small but loud and clearly saw growth from preseason games. Indeed, it seemed to swell over the course of the game. If momentum keeps up, the Fury’s first game at TD Place against the Cosmos on July 20 will be explosive on and off the field.
In the meantime, supporters will be looking forward to Wednesday’s tie against Edmonton in the Voyageur’s cup. It’s a competition that Dos Santos won previously with Montreal. Defeating the Eddies would set the stage for a juicy matchup with his former club and a very intense atmosphere with visiting crowds. Fingers crossed.
NEXT UP: April 23 – Ottawa Fury FC vs. FC Edmonton, Keith Harris Stadium, Ottawa, ON. 7:30 p.m. EST.