Fury coach takes some time to sharpen his game
Ottawa has no room for error as it faces Charlotte and works toward playoff spot
Apparently, or at least according to Soccer Canada, even the most decorated player in the history of Canadian Soccer can still learn a thing or two about the game.
That’s even in the middle of a hectic seven-team race for the final three United Soccer League Eastern Conference playoff spots.
Ottawa Fury FC’s interim head coach and general manager Julian de Guzman has spent the entire past week away at Soccer Canada’s National Training Centre in Vaughan completing the 30 hours of study and training necessary to obtain his “B License-National” which is just a step, and 90 more hours of intense training, away from the country’s highest coaching designation, an A License.
Meanwhile, back at TD Place, his players have been working toward Saturday’s night vital road game in Charlotte against the Eastern Conference’s highest-scoring side, the second-place Independence, a team looking to square things after the Fury FC upset them 3-1 on Aug. 12 to end Charlotte’s 12-game unbeaten streak.
The players and the head coach will hook up Saturday afternoon in Charlotte prior to kickoff.
“We know what’s at stake and it’s a big deal,” said the more learned head coach from Toronto.
“Charlotte is a quality side made up of good footballers and it’s important to recognize that.
“Every point counts and we will do whatever it takes to get ourselves to a playoff spot (Saturday). We have to be ourselves, stick to our game plan and trust that success will follow.
“Consistency against a team like Charlotte is major. There is no room for error (Saturday) if we want to get the job done.”
Truthfully, there has been little room for error for Fury FC for weeks and all they have done for a playoff push is earn draws in each of their last three games, which is a very slow method of trying to climb the standings.
The math is simple for the Fury FC: Its 32-game regular season is down to six games and it remains in 12th place at 7-9-10 for 31 points, five behind FC Cincinnati and Orlando City B, which are tied for eighth, although Fury FC has a game in hand on both counterparts.
Then there’s the small matter of also needing to jump past Bethlehem, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
But first things first and Charlotte is it. And they don’t give away much at home, having just two home field losses all season.
Charlotte’s explosive offence — and they do have 16 more goals-for than Ottawa — is led by the USL’s leading scorer Enzo Martinez, who has 16 goals, twice what Steevan Dos Santos has to lead the Fury FC.
But no player in the USL is any hotter than Dos Santos, who is riding a five-game goal-scoring streak, the longest in franchise history and the second longest in the USL in 2017, just a goal short of the sixgame streak by Reno’s Dane Kelly.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” said Fury FC forward Carl Haworth, heading into his 101st game in a Fury FC uniform. “We’ve put ourselves in this situation, so it’s up to us to get out of it.
“There are still enough points on the board for the taking and to make a playoff push. That’s been our goal since Day One and nothing has changed.
“(Charlotte) is good at home, but we beat them 3-1 here and we will try and replicate that, focus on our game plan and execute it to the best of our abilities.”
We know what’s at stake and it’s a big deal.
Julian de Guzman