Ottawa Fury FC look to get season and future on track in home opener this weekend

Photo credit: Freestyle Photography/Ottawa Fury FC

The beginning of the 2018 USL season hasn’t been without its difficulties for Ottawa Fury FC. Match and training schedules have been disrupted due to the typically unpredictable Canadian weather and in the midst of many changes at the club; a new Head Coach in Nikola Popovic, a second season in a new league and a collection of new players, the Fury FC have started the season off slow.

They lost their first three games of the season conceding ten goals and scoring once in the three games. Fury FC begins the season behind in points and behind in games played. Although that gives them the opportunity to make up ground with games in hand, it is always difficult playing from behind. This weekend against North Carolina FC at TD Place on Saturday, April 21st at 2:00 PM EST in front of an excited home crowd, Fury FC have a chance to make amends for a disappointing start to the season.

After jumping the now-defunct NASL ship to join the USL last season, Fury FC looks to grow as a club with aspirations to become a permanent fixture and title contender in the USL for years to come. The USL features a collection of young clubs in untouched soccer markets—San Antonio, Phoenix, Louisville—similar to Ottawa and continues to grow with plans for more expansion teams to join the league in the upcoming seasons providing Ottawa Fury FC with an opportunity to grow with the league.

Popovic, the newly appointed this past December, has an international pedigree and a track-record for success in the USL. Last season he led the Swope Park Rangers to a USL Championship runner-up finish only losing to the Louisville City FC 1-0 in the finals.

Ottawa is ripe ground to be developed into a Canadian soccer hotbed and Popovic and General Manager Julian de Guzman recognize that. Here at Fury FC, they have the opportunity to build a strong organizational culture with good local fan support and a Canadian player pool growing in talent. Popovic believes that the “Ottawa Fury [can be] a future reference [point] for Canadian soccer” and is actively seeking out with de Guzman “to build a team [with] a lot of Canadian players.”

The process of becoming a reference point for Canadian soccer will be long and arduous. Toronto FC is now experiencing great success in the MLS and is developing young Canadian talent as well as attracting the best talent from elsewhere but endured several years of disappointment and heart-ache before that. Ottawa Fury FC have experienced similar growing pains in its five-year history so far, but with a former Canadian soccer star at the helm in de Guzman, an idealistic and ambitious Head Coach in Popovic and a cohort of young Canadian soccer players, the Ottawa Fury FC have an opportunity to showcase its new regime’s strong organizational infrastructure and Canadian identity starting in this weekend’s home opener.

The current project under de Guzman and Popovic goes beyond the results at the beginning of this season and beyond this season as a whole; however, even though expectations may not be extremely high, the signs of growth need to be demonstrated in a distinct playing style and fleshed out player recruitment policy. The initial signs are positive even if the results on the field haven’t followed.

This weekend the Fury fans will be introduced to the new Head Coach and a few new players, but also to a brand-new home kit, which will provide added buzz for the home opener. The new jersey, announced last week through social media, sports five red and black stripes “representing the five seasons of the club’s history” and is consistent with the red and black colour scheme that most Ottawa sports teams feature.