The road to the 2015 NASL playoffs began in July of 2013 for head coach Marc Dos Santos and the Ottawa Fury FC organization. Two years later the club secured its first appearance in the post-season with a 2-0 defeat of FC Edmonton.
Head coach Marc Dos Santos was in a reflective mood as he elaborated on what this achievement meant to him in his post-match comments: “This not something you accomplish alone; players, coaching staff, front office, president, owners, […] it’s important to have people who believe in it. I just want to thank everybody who was involved in it because Mission 1 was accomplished.”
When asked if he had expected to bring the Fury to the postseason in its second year of existence, he was unequivocal: “Yes, always. I always thought that what we were building here, we had the capabilities of winning, of making the playoffs. Did I believe that after 26 games we would be in first place? No, I’m honest with you,” the coach said with a humble shrug of the shoulders. “Not so fast.” The coach then dropped one of the best anecdotes in his time in Ottawa on the assembled media: “I’m just happy because you guys don’t know what we went through in July 2013, the way we built and the hours (we put in), (for example) picking up the phone while at Walt Disney World while taking a picture with Rapunzel and my daughter to talk with agents!”.
The match itself was at times a dull midfield grind, with little in the way of opportunities for either side. The home fans weren’t about to complain, though, as success against FC Edmonton has been tough to come by and a brace from Siniša Ubiparipović made the result a foregone conclusion. Ubiparipović has been on fire recently, bringing his stats totals to four goals and seven assists. Ubi, as the fans refer to him, has played well for most of 2015 but credits his increased appearances on the scoresheet to a boost in confidence: “My willingness to get into the box and take risks as of late has helped me get some goals and assists. Also, other players (have been) making runs for me and without them I can’t get assists.”
The clean sheet was Fury keeper Romuald Peiser’s 13th of the season, tying a modern-NASL record. Think about that for a second: half of Ottawa’s matches in 2015 have resulted in clean sheets. With four matches left in the season, it seems a safe bet for him to break the record. Members of Stony Monday Riot, one of the Fury’s dedicated supporters groups, unveiled a banner (right) behind one of the goals on Sunday to commemorate the keeper’s contribution to the club. Based on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the banner should be a fixture at Fury home matches for the duration of the Frenchman’s stay.
Beyond clinching a playoff spot, the three points mean the Fury remain atop both the Combined and Fall tables, above Minnesota two and five points respectively. The focus now becomes securing home field advantage for the playoffs, with a sprinkling of squad rotation to rest some weary legs. Finishing with the best record in the league would guarantee one playoff match in Ottawa against the fourth seed, on top of locking up hosting duties for the Soccer Bowl if the Fury win that semi-final matchup.
Man of the Match: Siniša Ubiparipović. The Bosnian-American was active throughout the day, distributing well at the point of the Fury’s midfield spear. His two goals were the result of being well-positioned and taking his chances. An honorouble mention to Rafael Alves, who was solid as always at centre back, his strength and timely interventions regularly throttling Edmonton threats before they could blossom into scoring opportunities.
Next match: The Fury travel to Tampa to take on the Rowdies on Saturday night. Fans wanting to join in on the celebrations might want to join the team’s watch party at Heart & Crown on Preston. FC Edmonton move on to the second leg of their gruelling four-match road trip when they take on the New York Cosmos Sunday afternoon.