An All-Star team from League1 Ontario fell 6-1 to the USL’s Ottawa Fury on Friday in a pre-season friendly match at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
Attendance was about 75 on this cold day but the game was played at the OSC’s indoor facility. Spectators lined the balcony around the field about 20 feet above the sideline. I counted seven times the drop ball rule was enforced, as that’s how many times the ball hit the ceiling.
This was the last pre-season game for the Fury who will kick off their USL season on Saturday, March 17 away against the Charlotte Independence. Their next game will be two weeks later when they return to Toronto to play TFC II at BMO Field on March 31.
A L1O official wouldn’t even tell me which week their season will kick off; I was told they’ll be announcing it next week.
The most interesting part was that the Fury played a man short from 55 minutes when midfielder Azake Luoyera was injured. The Fury had made seven subs at halftime but assistant GM Carrie McKay answered me they had used up their player allotment. Hmm... maybe they wanted to practice a game situation when they were down a man. I didn’t notice a drop in quality and I only noticed because a fan who arrived late asked me why Fury were a man down.
Referee Yusri Rudolf gave out only one yellow card; the game never got rough but players were somewhat sloppy. The artificial turf probably limited the sliding tackles to a minimum.
It was an interesting group of spectators. School is still on so it was all adults there — parents and spouses for the locals mostly, with a lot of players that may not have been quite all-star quality. Some players I noticed were actually from the Fury.
Midfielder Chris Mannella (a former captain of TFC II), who is trying to earn a contract with the Fury said he was recovering from a concussion. Defender Nana Attakora, who has a contract, told me that he is also recovering from an injury.
I asked one of the soccer dads (who I mistook for a L1O official) how many times the All-Stars have practiced. He answered, “I don’t think often.” He came back later in the game and said “Three times.” Ahh.
The Fury had their problems too in terms of budget as they had taken a five-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Ottawa that morning. Ottawa’s assistant GM Carrie McKay said when the USL season gets started they will arrive in a town the day before a game.
L1O’s offensive runs were often frustratingly ended by offside calls whereas many Fury attempts the other way were successful with timed runs which caught the All-Stars defenders flat footed.
The All-Stars were pretty good L1O players but their NCAA players were not there and since the March break holiday is next week, the high-schoolers weren’t there either so it was an older group of players (who probably begged for the day off from their day jobs), possibly showing off for potential Canadian Premier League spots. The oldest of these guys are closing in on thirty years old. Why couldn’t this league have started years ago?
I saw Oakville Blue Devils technical staff official Brett Mosen and asked him about his side’s first round Voyageurs Cup home leg match against AS Blainville of the PLSQ (the Quebec equivalent of L1O). The game can’t be played at their Sheridan College home because the stadium doesn’t have lights.
I was expecting last fall’s answer of Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, but he said it will be played there in Vaughan. I wondered where he was pointing so I asked him again. He was pointing towards Ontario Soccer Centre’s outdoor field. Wednesday, June 13 should be warm enough to play outdoors.
Ottawa Fury will await the winner of that first round. There’s no FC Edmonton this season so the Fury will play either the Blue Devils or Blainville. If Ottawa wins, they will play Voyageurs Cup holders Toronto FC.
The Blue Devils had four players in today’s game: second half goalie Matt George, halftime sub defender Konner McNamara and starters Matt Santos and Khody Ellis. I hope they were taking notes.
The L1O is almost 100% Canadian as expected for a mostly amateur league but a pleasant surprise is the Fury today signing their thirteenth Canadian player — midfielder Adonijah Reid, who is back for a second year on loan from FC Dallas of MLS.
I remembered Reid from L1O team ANB Futbol a few seasons ago. He scored 20 goals in 20 games when he was 15. That team had the three Mills brothers who all transferred over to Vaughan Azzurri when ANB decided not to continue at the L1O level. Another alumni from Reid’s breakout season is Raheem Edwards!
McKay said goalie Maxime Crepeau is on a similar one-year loan from MLS’s Montreal Impact like Reid, but fellow Impact loanees midfielder Michael Salazar and defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguere are both on a recallable loan.
Wow I was waiting for this game! I’ve been to three TFC games this season and the only Canadian I’ve seen see action is Jonathan Osorio. The last game against Tigres they had only one Canadian on even on the bench — Tosaint Ricketts. The TAM and GAM money salary rules may make Rocket Robin “take it on the LAM” to the new Canadian Premier League.