Soccer at Lansdowne – the Ottawa Fury FC
By Kendra Lee
The Ottawa Fury, Ottawa’s soccer club, opened their new stadium, TD Place, in style on July 20. They hosted their first home game in the new stadium in front of 14,593 fans, making history by breaking the all-time attendance record for the North American Soccer League (NASL)! The game was against the New York Cosmos, and while our team didn’t win, fans of all ages and backgrounds had a great time together cheering on the Fury.
The Ottawa Fury have a long history in the city, competing in development leagues with both men’s and women’s teams. Last year, the city was granted an expansion franchise in the NASL. The NASL comprises teams mostly from throughout the United States; the only other Canadian team is FC Edmonton. The league is split into two seasons, spring and fall; followed by playoffs to decide the overall league winner.
This team is brand spanking new! The current roster was put together in January of this year, and they started practicing in March for their inaugural season in April. And they are good! They finished a solid sixth place in a league of 10, above the other expansion team from Indianapolis and above FC Edmonton – these teams finished 10th and 9th respectively.
We are lucky to have a talented group of guys from all over the globe on our side. Stand out players from the spring season include Toni Donatelli, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Tommy Heinemann and, of course, our captain Richie Ryan in the midfield. There is also an impressive amount of Canadian talent on the roster. In the spring season we saw Mason Trafford and Drew Beckie consistently working well together on defense and Andres Fresenga get playing time on defense as well. In the midfield, we have Philippe Davies from Montreal and Mauro Eustaquio. We also have strong back-up goalkeepers in Chad Bush and Marcel DeBellis, who has had some success as a keeper in Europe. Carl Haworth is an Ottawa native who had a very strong spring season as a forward, along with Pierre-Rudolph Mayard, who played on the Montreal Impact. Many of our Canadian players have been called up to the U23 National Team, including Fresenga, Beckie, Davies and Haworth, a testament to the strength of the Fury and the positive development of soccer in Canada.
The home stadium, TD Place, is impressive – not only centrally located, but also beautifully laid out in a lovely setting on the Rideau Canal. It is perfectly designed for natural light and the views looking out from the stadium are impressive.
As important as cheering on your team in the stands is the support of the surrounding community. Many of the local restaurants and businesses have been welcoming the Fury and their supporters by offering pre-game hangouts and game-day deals. The Ottawa Fury boasts three groups of supporters: The Bytown Boys Supporters Club (www.bytownboys.ca), Stony Monday Riot (www.stonymondayriot.com) and Fury Ultras (www.furyultras.ca), all with meeting places and opportunities to get involved. Stony Monday Riot meets at Original Burger Joint before Fury home games, while the Bytown Boys congregate at the Georgetown Sports Bar, both venues are close to the stadium and are great places to meet other soccer fans before the games.
Be sure to take in a game at the new Lansdowne stadium this summer. In soccer, the team’s energy is often fuelled by the excitement of the fans. The players rely so much on the atmosphere, and home stadium advantage is far more coveted than in any other sport. An away win is something hard to come by and if your team performs well on the road, you can count yourself lucky. They need your support to succeed! This is your chance not just to observe a sporting event, but to be involved and part of the history. They are a talented group of players being lead by an excellent coach. Be proud of them!
Kendra Lee is an ESL teacher and an avid soccer fan who welcomes the arrival of the newly minted Ottawa Fury FC.