Ottawa Fury FC takes on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers this Saturday, October 29 at TD Place, and the game will mark the end of Ottawa’s time in the North American Soccer League. But don’t worry! The Fury aren’t going anywhere.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the NASL’s Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies would be jumping to the United Soccer League (USL) for the 2017 season, joining 29 other teams in the largest professional soccer league in the world.
One player who we hope will be with the team when it begins its USL era next year is Eddie Edward, an Ottawa native who joined the team in June. Before Ottawa’s final game in the NASL, Apt613 spoke with Eddie about growing up in Ottawa, turning pro, and a few of his favourite things.
Apt613: You’re from Ottawa originally. Did you play anything besides soccer when you were growing up?
In high school I played basketball, a little bit of volleyball, but nothing too serious. I loved playing hockey. I never played competitively, but I always played pick-up, outdoor hockey with my friends. My first sport was actually baseball when I was much younger. I played shortstop and some first base as well.
When did the idea of becoming a professional soccer player become a goal for you?
To be honest, it just happened really quickly. I never really saw it materializing. I was just in college, and I played my off-seasons with the Kansas City Wizards (now known as Sporting Kansas City) academy team. When I played with them, we went to the national final for youth soccer. I got a better taste of being around a professional atmosphere, because we trained at the Wizards’ grounds. I would see the professional players come in. Maybe that’s when I started to think a little more seriously about it. But up until then I never really thought it was an actual possibility.
With me, I was training with the Wizards, and my college coach had called me, and told me that I had been selected by FC Dallas [of Major League Soccer] in the supplementary draft. I wasn’t expecting that at all. And so I went back to school, continued to do my classes, and while I was doing my classes I was training and whatnot. And then they told me that on a certain date, I would have to report to preseason [with FC Dallas], and I just took it from there. Obviously I knew I had to go in and impress, especially considering there were guys drafted ahead of me, and there were guys there that were already under contract.
Prior to that, I had been to a few combines in the [Kansas] area, I went to a combine in Nebraska, I did another one in Chicago. I just through word of mouth, scouts liked what they saw, and they decided to draft me.
You spent some time with the Fury back in the team’s’ PDL days, what was it like coming back here, especially now that the team is a much bigger deal.
It’s crazy to see what has happened, just with what Lansdowne looks like now compared to when I was younger. And the fanbase is obviously much, much bigger. Back when I played with the PDL team, it was still a decent following, but obviously it’s not comparable to now, as it’s a professional team. I’ve said it a million times, how happy and fortunate I feel to be able to play in my hometown. And to see what [Fury President] John Pugh has done with this vision of his is remarkable.
Is there anything you missed about the city, or a favourite place you were happy to be able to visit again?
It’s weird, because now that I’m home, I don’t really go that often, but every time I came home to Ottawa or [anywhere in] Canada, I would always make sure to go to Tim Horton’s. I would have to. But being away, I missed everything about Ottawa. I missed just being in Canada, to be honest. When I played in Puerto Rico, whenever we went to Edmonton (Ottawa didn’t have a team at the time), it was just so refreshing to be back on Canadian soil.
FUN FACTS ABOUT EDDIE EDWARD
What was your favourite team growing up?
Favourite sport besides soccer?
Favourite hockey team?
Gotta be the Sens.
Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
Ugo Ihemelu, my roommate in Dallas
Who is the best player you’ve ever played with or against?
With: David Ferreira
Against: Landon Donovan
Favourite pre-game meal?
Quinoa, sweet potato, chicken, spinach, bean, and a smoothie
What’s a fact about you, or an interest of yours that most people wouldn’t know about you?
I’m pretty superstitious. Whatever I do on a day I play well, it’s gotta be replicated until it doesn’t work anymore.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing soccer?
I’d be involved in youth outreach. That’s what I plan on doing when I’m done.
Ottawa Fury FC takes on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at TD Place this Saturday, October 29th. Kickoff is at 2pm. Fury FC tickets are available online, by phone at 613-232-6767 ext 1, or in person at the TD Place Box Office.