Fury coach takes some time to sharpen his game

Ottawa has no room for er­ror as it faces Char­lotte and works to­ward play­off spot

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - DON CAMP­BELL

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

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