If you ask Julian de Guzman, he’ll tell you he’s pretty happy with where his squad is at right now.
Coming off a 2-0 win on Wednesday against the Richmond Kickers, Ottawa sits 8th in the USL Eastern Conference with 10 games left to play. This is after starting the season winless in six (of a 34-game season).
“I’m quite content with the way things have worked out up to now,” says the Ottawa Fury FC General Manager. “The first five or six games wasn’t an easy start. You put most teams in that situation, it’s very rare that you’d find a team [as high as] 8th place at this point in the season.”
De Guzman believes with four or five more wins, the team should be able to lock down a playoff spot—but without the slow start to the season that spot could have been more or less secured by now. Slow starts have been something of an Ottawa trademark, due in large part to the players being unable to train outdoors in the pre-season. Ottawa is the northernmost club in the USL league, which has teams situated in far warmer climates. Our local club is looking at solutions for future seasons.
“We’re spending quality time looking into other alternatives on how to go about pre-season. It’s important that when the season starts, we’re not still in preseason mode. We’re looking at training on bigger sized pitches, whether it be somewhere else in Canada, or somewhere in the States, and spend more time there to prepare ourselves for the opening matches.”
Enter: Canadian international David Edgar
The biggest move Ottawa has made since the start of the season is the recent signing of David Edgar. The 6’4” Canadian national team defender is a veteran of the English Premier League, having played with Newcastle United and Burnley, as well as several teams in England’s second tier.
He’s a player De Guzman has been after for some time, but timing was an issue. Edgar had been in negotiations with the Vancouver Whitecaps (where he spent 2016) at the start of the year, and Ottawa could not afford to wait around for the outcome of those talks. Eventually however, the stars aligned to bring him to town.
“He’ll be a very important piece to the puzzle.”
“I’ve been after David since before the season even started. The more we spoke, the more he found out about what we’re doing here in Ottawa and what we’re trying to do. We’re excited to have him for the rest of the season, to be a very positive leader on and off the field. He’ll be a very important piece to the puzzle.”
Edgar will compete for time with Nana Attakora and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère at the centre-back position. Those two have been rock-solid for much of the season, with Meilleur-Giguère, in particular, being a revelation. On paper though, Edgar should now be considered Ottawa’s top defender. His height and experience make him a prized signing, and Ottawa’s GM could see him staying here past this season.
“This is a fantastic outlet for me and the project that the club is doing gives these young talented Canadians a chance to play at the professional level and that is massive for the country.” 🇨🇦#FuryFC newcomer @davidedgar141 discusses what it means playing for Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/2TpCDTRpWQ
— Ottawa Fury FC (@OttawaFuryFC) August 9, 2018
“You’ll see him going up for battles in the air,” says De Guzman. “There’s always a 75 to 80 percent chance he’s going to come down with control of the ball. He’s got loads of experience playing top-flight football, in England and with the national team. If things go well for the rest of the season, it wouldn’t be a second thought to have him here long term.”
When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling
Edgar’s signging has all but confirmed the end of Colin Falvey’s time in Fury colours. It was previously confirmed that the Irishman is now training on his own, away from the team, although he has not been released. De Guzman said whether Falvey will be released before the end of the season has not been discussed, though having him train away from the team was a club decision. It’s particularly shocking considering the key role Falvey played with the team in 2015, which is considered the club’s most successful season.
“I believe up until now, Falvey and the club have handled things in a professional manner.”
“Right now it’s a difficult decision that we’ve made for Falvey and the team. I think in terms of what has happened between the club and Falvey, a decision had to be made. It’s a little of bit of on and off the field reasons. It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to a guy like Falvey, who’s been a key player in the history of Ottawa Fury FC, but for this season, we’ve decided to pick this path with having him on his own. We’re in the middle of finding the best solution for both parties. I believe up until now, Falvey and the club have handled things in a professional manner.”
Saturday’s game at TD Place pits Ottawa against Indy Eleven in a hugely important match for both teams. Indy sits in 6th place, but only one point ahead ofOttawa. A win for either team would bump them up to 5th in the conference. A loss, and either teams’ playoff spot looks up for grabs.
It’s a short week for both teams, with Indy also coming off a win on Wednesday. As the travelling team, however, they’ll have had less time to rest.
Player to watch: Captain Carl
Wednesday marked Carl Haworth’s first start in over a month, having missed time due to an injury. He wasted no time getting his groove back, scoring on a beautiful free kick in the 8th minute.
— Ottawa Fury FC (@OttawaFuryFC) August 15, 2018
The club’s top scorer in 2016, Haworth can be a force in the offensive zone, and has an ability to create opportunities where few others can. He only played the first 45 minutes on Wednesday, likely a precautionary measure as he returns from injury. In a key match against a strong Indy Eleven side, he may see a longer stint on the field this Saturday.
Ottawa Fury FC takes on Indy Eleven at TD Place on Saturday August 18, 2018. Kickoff is at 2pm. Tickets are available online or at the TD Place box office.