The sound of the ball coming off the Fury players’ boots was a little crisper this morning as head coach Marc Dos Santos ran his team through an intense training session. The team quickly shifted through the gears as it prepared for its first-ever playoff match on Sunday at 3pm against Minnesota United FC at Lansdowne Park Stadium.
When asked how his team was feeling, Dos Santos tried to sell the narrative that it’s business as usual: “Same as always. This is a group of guys that are eager to get to gameday. They are confident and the atmosphere surrounding the squad is very good. They’ve been fantastic all year and I feel they are simply continuing along in that vein.”
Despite some chippiness and high intensity in the last few matches between Sunday’s combatants, Dos Santos was quick to defuse any talk of animosity between the clubs or its coaches: “I have an enormous amount of respect for their head coach, Manny Lagos, and he’s also very respectful towards me – we have a good relationship. Players on either team know their opponents are good and there is a healthy amount of respect between the teams, and it’s amazing to think that we’ve earned that respect from them in such a short time. Some teams have been in the league for five years and have yet to earn that kind of respect.”
Colin Falvey was absent from the practice field today, and Dos Santos was lukewarm about his chances of playing on Sunday: “We don’t know if he’s going to play yet. It doesn’t look super good, there’s a chance he will play, but it’s day-to-day.” Fury captain Richie Ryan practiced with the full-squad and looked pretty fit, but again Dos Santos was non-committal about his prospects: “Richie is improving, he’s day-to-day, hopefully he’ll be good to go but he’s very honest. I’ve been with Richie now for two years and he’s a very direct guy. If he’s ready to play that game he’s gonna play, if he’s not ready he’s gonna let us know.”
Romuald Peiser, the Fury’s standout keeper and holder of most of the NASL’s goalkeeping records, was succinct in what Sunday’s match means: “It will be a very tough game, an exciting game. After this game, someone is going home to cry, and the others are going to make a party.”
Tickets: Fans wanting to attend Sunday’s historic match have two options: they can either purchase regular-priced tickets through the club’s website or get $15 tickets through Stony Monday Riot where they will be expected to stand throughout the match while making as much of a racket as possible.