This Saturday, April 1st Ottawa Fury FC is set to begin its fourth season as a professional club, and inaugural season in the USL, with an away match against Saint Louis FC, scheduled for 8:30pm.
With the USL season having begun this past weekend, I figured it was as good a time as any to check out the Ottawa Fury FC website for information about the upcoming season. Who would be broadcasting home and away matches? Where can they be watched? What new merchandise does the team have lined up for the 2017 season? And most importantly, when/where can I pick up my season tickets and *limited edition* scarf?!?
So off I went to the Fury’s homepage yesterday, looking for answers. What did I find? Well, nothing. I didn’t expect to find anything about when season ticket holders could expect to pick up their 2017 season cards–keep checking your inboxes!–I was hoping to see some new merch in the team shop, as well as some details about how fans can watch Saturday’s upcoming match.
It’s no secret that there are not many journalists covering the team who can ask these hard-hitting questions, so I took to Twitter to ask the club for answers.
@JamesMBridges It’s going to be a big week for Fury FC related announcements, stay tuned as we reveal key info this week.
— Ottawa Fury FC (@OttawaFuryFC) March 27, 2017
You don’t say! Like clockwork, today the team announced broadcasting details for the 2017 season:
— Ottawa Fury FC (@OttawaFuryFC) March 28, 2017
Here’s the major details from the release:
“This season, Fury FC have come together with USL Productions, TSN 1200 and Rogers TV to provide a comprehensive English language broadcast that will air on USL Match Centre, Rogers TV and simulcast on TSN 1200. Veteran broadcaster AJ Jakubec will have the call of the clubs fourth season along side long-time Fury analysts Graeme Ivory and Jenna Mosher from the JUMP Morning Crew on JUMP! 106.9. Mosher became part of the Canadian Women’s National Team pool at age 16 and featured prominently for NCAA Division 1 school Troy University. She will also be part of the halftime report hosted by up-and-coming broadcaster Tyler McDonald. This unparalleled broadcast experience will be produced by TSN/RDS veteran broadcaster Mike Sutherland.”
So now we know where we’ll be able to watch Fury matches this season, as well as who will be calling the games. While it’s undoubtedly sad that Dan Mooney and Gordon Smith of Rogers TV (Channel 22 on cable) will no longer be calling the games, I’m confident that AJ Jakubec, Graeme Ivory, Jenna Mosher (a new edition!) and Tyler McDonald will do a great job as the new TV & radio broadcast team. However, as many Fury fans have discussed over the past year, it’s more than a little concerning that the only news about the team comes from the club itself, and this announcement only reinforces the erosion of outside media coverage of the team.
Are you hoping for a bunch of fancy, new Fury merchandise to kick the 2017 season off right? Of course you are–they’re beginning their 1st season in a new league–how exciting! Well, too bad for you because as of today, no new Fury merchandise is available for sale online…in fact, very little merchandise is for sale at all. Unless you like discounted jerseys that feature the NASL logo, really old hats, or some TD Place gift cards, you’re just going to have to hang tight.
The club’s response to my tweet gives me some hope that new merchandise could be revealed before the end of the week, though honestly, I won’t hold my breath. The Fury’s season may begin in St. Louis on April 1st, but the club’s home opener isn’t until three weeks later, on April 22nd. With that said, my guess is that we should expect new merch to land in the store before the home opener on April 22nd, and not the season opener this Saturday.
In my opinion, this is a bit of a missed opportunity, because if the club was selling new team gear in advance of the season opener against St. Louis this Saturday, it would give fans an opportunity to show it off and encourage their friends and fellow fans to tune into watch the match on Saturday.
While lots of people attend Fury matches here at home, I suspect far less people tune into away games online, or on Rogers TV which Bell subscribers/cable cutters don’t have access to. Getting people in store/online to buy new merchandise could have been a great opportunity to also promote the club’s online broadcasts to a wider audience, and it’s a bit worrying that no merchandise is available after the USL season has already begun.
In other news, Graeme Ivory and Richard Starnes interviewed Paul Dalglish on TSN 1200’s ‘Corner Kicks’ last night. You can listen to the audio here.
Essentially, Dalglish was pleased with the club’s preseason, particularly the final match last Friday vs Montreal Impact, which produced a 2-0 victory for Fury FC. Some other interesting tidbits:
Without naming names, Dalglish felt that some of last year’s squad “wasn’t on the same page,” and took responsibility for that. He feels that this year, he was able to recruit the right players to fit the squad as he envisions it playing.
- Expect Lance Rozeboom to be a vocal, engaging leader. According to Dalglish, there’s no question of where the club’s leadership comes from this year.
- The Fury are going into their 1st regular season USL match against Saint Louis FC on Saturday with a lot of confidence after beating Montreal Impact 2-0 last Friday. He felt that the squad put in a great effort to generate offense off of the counterattack, and mentioned that the squad probably should have netted a few more goals. He says that the Fury outshot the Impact 21-1!(!!!), though its worth noting that this Impact squad only played 5 or 6 or their first team players.
- Expect Saint Louis FC to play a 4-2-2-2 formation on Saturday.
- Callum Irving has been named Ottawa Fury FC’s starting goalkeeper.
- Dalglish on Irving: “He’s fantastic. He’s someone who we went after. A goalkeeper of that profile is someone we went after, and when Callum became available from Rio Grande Valley we jumped at the chance to bring him in. He’s got all the attributes that we need for the way we want to play, and that’s his ability to use his feet. He’s a very calm presence back there–he keeps the defenders around him calm and organized, and is just a real good personality back there. His ability to use his feet is huge, because as we’ve said many times, we believe our goalkeeper is our first attacker and our striker is our first defender, so the ability of our goalkeeper to use his feet allows us to be a total team–not just a team that has to play direct. If you think about last year, we did have a target striker, but we didn’t really have the technical tools to build from the back, so we were a little bit caught in between. This year, we’ve fully been able to transition to a team that wants to use their goalkeeper as the first line of attack.”
- Dalglish on summarizing his squad’s system/style of play this season: “It’s quite an adaptable system. It’s one that is starting to become a bit more common, that we tried at the end of last season, a 3-4-3 if you like, and then at the start of this season Chelsea and Tottenham started using it in the Premier League and have made it a bit more common knowledge to the greater football fan…Football is all about trends, and what you normally find if you’ve been in football for long enough is that trends come full-circle, and if you remember the Germans [national team] playing three at the back a few years ago at major tournaments and started making it fashionable again with their success in Italy…Toronto in MLS have had great success last doing it…there’s a few teams that have had success, and there’s a few teams that have failed doing it as well. It’s not an easy system to implement–it takes a lot of time because it’s not a system that many players grow up playing in youth soccer so it’s not really a plug-and-play system. It’s one where you have to spend a lot of time working on positioning and decision-making within the system, and so it’s taken us a lot of time to get it right, but it’s something I really believe that, when done right, can be a really effective system.”
- Dalglish on whether the system will be more exciting for fans? “We hope so! We’ve been getting a lot more crosses into the box, we’ve been getting a lot more shots on target, we’ve actually got a big target striker in Steevan Dos Santos and Tucker Hume this year that can really make those crosses effective. That’s what we were looking for in the offseason, was a big #9 that when we put crosses in the box can get on the end of things. Steevan Dos Santos is a big unit, and he took a little bit of time in pre-season to get going, but in the last few games he’s been absolutely awesome, and also in training as well, so I’m excited about what the future holds for him. And Tucker Hume, although he’s a rookie, has contributed massively. He’s been involved in most of our goals, whether with assists–he may not have his name on the scoresheet the last few games–but he’s been heavily involved with assists in these games, so we’ve got two real giant target strikers that can help us if we need to go direct–get it into them and build play, or if we get it wide, can get on the end of crosses, so we’re hoping to score more goals than what we’ve been doing, and if preseason is any indication, then we should certainly do it.”
- Dalglish on the depth of his squad, including injuries to Carl Haworth and Ryan Williams: “It hurts when it’s two players [injured] in the same position, because with those, we don’t have the depth to cover that, so what we’ll probably have, we tried Eddie Edward there and he did well. We’ve got Jamar Dixon who can play there as well. We’ve also been looking at the idea of playing with two strikers and three in midfield instead of four, so we’ve got a few options to adapt to that [situation.] We’ve also got Jimmy Sanon [from Montreal Impact] who will be with us, so we’ve got plenty of options to cover for them, but it certainly hurts when it’s two players in those positions and two of our best players as well. But with tough situations like injury comes opportunity, and I’ve got no doubt that with the mentality of this group, that one of the players we choose will step up and do great. And then, Haworth and Williams have to do well to get back on the team–that’s just how football works.”