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L to R: Sergio Manesio, Callum Irving, Steevan Dos Santos, Andrew MacRae, Jamar Dixon. Photo by Steve Kingsman.

Key players are returning to Ottawa Fury FC for 2018

By Josh Lemoine on November 10, 2017

Ottawa Fury FC held their annual player awards gala on Thursday evening at TD Place. Among the winners were backup keeper Andrew MacRae (Community Award), Callum Irving (Fans’ Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year), Steevan Dos Santos (Top Scorer), Sergio Manesio (sharing Newcomer of the Year with Irving), and Jamar Dixon (Player of the Year).

Video: A highlight reel save by Fan’s Player of the Year, Callum Irving.

The mood was light, though for many players it will their last event as members of Fury FC. There is always significant turnover in Division II soccer. Fury FC announced a list of only eight players who are confirmed to be returning for the 2018 USL season: Dos Santos, Irving, Manesio, Ottawa-native Eddie Edward, Carl “Mr. Fury” Haworth, Sito Seoane, Azake Luboyera and Jimmy-Shammar Sanon.

Player of the Year, Jamar Dixon. Photo: @OttawaFuryFC (Twitter).

The list of returning players may grow in the coming weeks. With Jamar Dixon (also an Ottawa native) named Player of the Year, the club would do well to make sure he stays in his hometown. Fury FC confirmed they are working out new trialists plus more signings are expected to be announced over the next several weeks.

Of note is Julian de Guzman retaining the “interim” tag, for now, on his Head Coach and GM positions. Club president John Pugh said, “Julian has been working hard, as you know. He will be with us in 2018, he is under contract. We’re going to assess… the coaching staff and the support staff and the ancillary staff as a whole, and we hope to come to a final coaching lineup before the end of the year.”

With USL and NASL championships to be decided in the next few days, the team may wait to see if any other head coach candidates become available in the coming weeks (one of which could be former Fury FC coach Marc Dos Santos).

Interim Head Coach and GM, Julian de Guzman. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fury FC.

I’m more than happy to take any role just to be a part of this club.

De Guzman seems unfazed by the uncertainty, the bottom line being the club’s success. “It’s important that we continue to do our due diligence. We want to be successful from top to bottom. I’ve been spending a lot of time with management, and we want to make sure that we get the right pieces together. Not just with players, but also in the staff. Finding the right roles for each individual plays a major role for any successful team. I’m more than happy to take any role just to be a part of this club.”

Should De Guzman remain head coach, “efficient football” is what fans should expect, he says. “Not just attractive for the fans, but, you know, gets the results. I think that’s exactly what the fans want. They want to see a team that is free on the pitch. Not too many restrictions, but allows them to play football and be themselves.”

On the matter of Ottawa’s affiliation with MLS side Montreal Impact, Pugh believes that while it was not perfect in its first year (it was a one year agreement) this will be renewed for 2018.

“We’ve had some discussions with Montreal… and I think there are some things we can tweak. We think it’s a win-win for both clubs, we both want to continue it. There are some things on our side we’d like to change, and I think there’s some things on their side that they would like to tweak as well. We’ll come out of it with an even better agreement going forward, at least, that’s where our discussions seem to be heading.”

In concept, we entirely support the idea of having a Canadian Premier League, and we look forward to hearing some more details about it… we don’t know what there is to join at this time.

Lastly, when Pugh was asked to comment on the development of the announced Canadian Premier League (rumoured to launch in 2019) and Ottawa Fury FC’s potential involvement:

“We try to follow it closely. There hasn’t been much publicly said about the league. In concept, we entirely support the idea of having a Canadian Premier League, and we look forward to hearing some more details about it. I don’t think we can make that determination [whether to join the CPL] because we don’t know what there is to join at this time. We’ll wait and see some of those details which will unfold I’m sure in the coming months.”

Make of that what you will.