The Ottawa Fury travel to Atlanta on Saturday to take on the Silverbacks in the final game of the 2015 regular season. The Fury will be looking for the victory that will confirm them as the 2015’s best NASL club and add a piece of silverware, the Woosnam Cup, to their newly-acquired trophy case.
For Ottawa Fury fans, it’s a regular season they will be sad to see coming to an end. Dominance in sports is a special thing when you’re a part of it, whether it be as part of the coaching staff, the players or the fan base, and no other word better describes the 2015 Ottawa Fury season. What else do you call suffering but one loss in the final 24 matches, or a season in which your keeper, with the league’s best defence in front of him, sets a record for clean sheets? Fans have been soaking up the dominance of their club and hoping it will translate into the playoffs.
The first matter of business is this final match, the one that will either see the Fury confirm their dominance with a trophy or cede first position to the New York Cosmos or, less likely, Minnesota United. They take on a Silverbacks side that at one point in this Fall season were riding high and setting their sights on the playoffs, only to start tumbling hard in early August. As it stands, the Silverbacks are without a win in over a month. That’s not to say they aren’t dangerous, as both Brazilian Pedro Mendes and American Jaime Chavez will be looking to add to their current goal totals of seven, and the rest of the club’s players will be eager to leave a lasting impression considering the uncertainty of the franchise’s future (you can help the Silverbacks become fan-owned here).
The task will be made slightly more challenging as head coach Marc Dos Santos has made no secret of the fact he will be resting many habitual starters with a view to have their batteries completely recharged for the November 8th semi-final. Headlining the bench for this match will be MVP and Golden Gloves candidate Romuald Peiser, who will be replaced by Marcel DeBellis. DeBellis will be making his first appearance for the Fury, an opportunity that’s been a long time coming for the Torontonian. The backup keeper has always kept his chin up and his efforts in training have reflected this positive attitude, as he appears to be well-respected by his teammates and the coaching staff. Fury goalkeeper coach and Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar has always been high on him, telling Chris Hofley that DeBellis is a better shot-stopper than current Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet. High praise, that. Joining Peiser on the sidelines will be captain Richie Ryan, who will be missing his third straight match nursing a leg injury. This decision seems to be more precautionary than anything, ensuring that the Irishman will be fully rested for The Championship tournament. Other than those two, it’s a bit of a mystery as to who else will be on the bench. Expect Montreal Impact loanee and Canadian international Jérémy Gagnon-Laparée to get a start in defensive midfield, and perhaps even German Uğur Albayrak and/or Costa Rican Brandon Poltronieri could find themselves on the wings at some point. Total NASL can also confirm that a number of Academy players have made the trip to Georgia, but we will not know which ones until the starting lineups are confirmed.
It’s a credit to the club’s depth that they are still favoured to win against the Silverbacks. Fury supporters have tasted glory, and they’re hungry for more. Managing a roster is an important part of modern football, but fans will be hoping that Dos Santos has struck the right balance in ensuring the Fury lift a second trophy in two weeks.