While goals are still proving hard to come by, Marc Dos Santos' team have become hard to score against in recent weeks, let alone beat. Indeed, in their last two games against Edmonton, Ottawa conceded six. With their Canadian rivals being joint top goalscorers in the NASL, keeping them at bay this time was no small achievement.
The increased defensive solidity of the team is ostensibly down to a refocusing on defending after a tough April, but has also coincided with the reintroduction to the starting line up of Mason Trafford at left-back. It sounds like Trafford, whose more natural position is in the middle, had to agitate for his spot. In a post-match interview on OttawaFury.com, he said:
“It was no secret that I was very disappointed to be left out of the first few games of the year and Marc would be the first to know that. We had a lot of discussions about it, I wasn't pleased about it and it just feels good to be back in there now and for the team to be doing well.”
Meanwhile, the lack of goals in the game wasn't for want of trying, with both teams missing some brilliant chances. The game statistic – attacks: 55, dangerous attacks: 0 – tells the story. Edmonton missed one absolute sitter in the first half from only a few yards out, while the Fury attacked with intention throughout, but to no avail. Haworth, Ubiparapovic, Falvey and then Haworth again all missed good chances before last week's hero, Nicki Paterson, missed a virtual open goal with 15 minutes remaining after a brilliant run and cut back from Paulo Junior. Quite simply, Ottawa's finishing was nowhere near good enough, and will have been a source of incredible frustration for fans, players and coaching staff alike.
Nonetheless, with two games left of the spring season, the recent turn around and increased solidity of the side should prove good building blocks for the fall. Trips now to Jacksonville on June 7th and San Antonio a week later will see if the Fury's new-found stability can be applied away from home, given their three-match undefeated run has come entirely at TD Place.
The league table is still so tight, that depending on the results of these matches – and of course those of their division rivals – Ottawa could still finish anywhere between second, and last. Let's hope it's closer to the former.