By Théo Gauthier
OTTAWA, ONTARIO—The Ottawa Fury welcomed the newest member of their squad to training on Wednesday, as Daniel Haber made his debut on the pitch at Lansdowne Park.
The attacking-minded Canadian international was officially acquired on Monday from FC Cincinnati on a free transfer in a move that was quick to come together. “(The transfer) didn’t get done until about a week ago,” says Haber. “It was a pretty quick turnaround. (I) packed my bags and I came here.”
Haber appeared enthused about the opportunity to play in Canada as a professional. “I’m really excited to be here; I’ve heard great things about Ottawa as a club,” he says. “(I’m) just happy to be back playing in Canada.”
And his first impression of Canada’s capital? “I had been here for a school trip,” he says with a chuckle. “I’ve been very impressed with the infrastructure that they have here. The coaching staff, the facilities: everything is good and it seems like there’s a lot of talent on the team. It’s great to see good quality Canadian players getting chances to play.”
A lack of playing time at USL Eastern Conference leaders Cincinnati is what led to the opportunity for the Fury to snatch him up. “I didn’t feel like I was playing as much as I wanted to or felt like I deserved—although every player will always tell you he wants to play. It just reached a point where I felt like I had more to give and I was sort of tired of sitting around and waiting. (Ottawa Fury General Manager) Julian (de Guzman) and Head Coach (Nikola Popovic) felt like they were probably able to give me a better opportunity than I was getting there. So I made the switch.”
Following a successful amateur career at Cornell University where he scored 28 goals in 50 appearances for The Big Red, Haber took his talents to Israel and Cyprus where he scored 15 goals in 74 matches. Vancouver Whitecaps 2 was his next destination, before switching to USL rivals Real Monarchs and then FC Cincinnati. The Toronto-born forward has earned 12 call-ups for Canada, picking up five caps along the way.
Popovic is familiar with his new charge, having coached against him on several occasions: “I’ve known Daniel for a long time; he’s one of those Canadian players that I’ve always liked to watch.” Popovic would have had many occasions to see him in his previous job as coach of the USL’s Swope Park Rangers when Haber played for Vancouver Whitecaps II and Real Salt Lake’s USL affiliate Real Monarchs. “I think we can expect a player who is very dynamic, very explosive and who can give us a little bit more depth in our forward line,” Popovic answered when asked what Fury fans can expect from their new man in black and red.
“I think we always have to be careful when bringing new players,” he continued. “They have to adapt to the model, to the new environment. All of these things take time and that’s why we want to not go too fast. (Haber) can adapt and produce a lot for us.”
The Fury currently sit four points out of playoff spot despite their difficulty reaping the rewards of their creativity. In Haber, Fury fans now have a new portmanteau on which to hang their hope.