A dreamy debut for Fury men

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:57 PM ET

In this season of learning, the Ottawa Fury have figured out one thing pretty quick.

Look good for the home folks.

The Fury are surely a quick study in that area -- when they hit the pitch at Keith Harris Stadium this afternoon for a crucial match against the Ocean City (N.J.) Barons, they'll bring a 4-1-0 home record with them. It was perfect until last night's 2-1 overtime loss to Reading, with Desmond Tachie scoring the lone Fury goal. Not a bad way to make your debut in the men's Premier Development League.

"As a coach, you want to win every game," said Fury coach Colin McCurdy, a former Northern Ireland international. "But I try to tell the guys it's very important to try to promote the game in Ottawa. We want to give a good, strong effort for the kids who come out and watch.

"We want the guys to go out and play and enjoy the game."

Bonus just might describe the entire season to date. Slotted into the Northeast Division -- considered by many the PDL's toughest grouping -- the expansion Fury were expected to struggle.

Instead, they're 6-5-0. That's good enough for third place, and within hailing distance of the two sides holding down the playoff spots at the moment -- Ocean City (8-1-1 going into weekend play) and the Cape Cod Crusaders (8-2-1).

"We've done remarkably well," said McCurdy. "When it's your first season, you want to make sure you're not going to get blown away. It's very important that you're competitive, and that the rest of the league respects you."

McCurdy and club CEO/owner John Pugh decided to go young in their first go-round in the PDL, with an emphasis on youthful Canadian and local talent. The PDL is an Under-23 circuit, but teams are allowed eight overagers.

The Fury only have two -- goalkeepers Angus Wong and Vincente-Jean Dube.

Despite their youth, McCurdy got an inkling during training camp in May that the Fury's first trip through the PDL might be better than a gauntlet run.

"When you start to recruit players, you don't always know what you're going to get, until you get people here," he said. "But in raining camp, we saw the nucleus of a good team and certainly the nucleus for a good team for next year."

This was a group that decided it didn't want to wait until 2006. With Kevin Omokhua (seven goals), Francis Mavula (six), Toronto Lynx loaner Desmond Tachie (five) and Phil Amhazion (three) leading the charge, the Fury top the division in scoring with 28 goals.

Wong, an Algonquin College and St. Anthony's minor soccer product, has been a revelation in net.

"We're very, very happy with the entire squad," said McCurdy. "Nobody has ever let us down."

Last week, the Fury faced their first major test at Ocean City. After being dominated in the first half, the Fury responded to some "choice words" by McCurdy at the intermission and took over the match. Though they lost 2-1, the Fury made a statement. One they'd like to take a step further in today's 2 p.m. showdown.

Certainly, the expectation level has changed already -- much as the Fury women have raised the bar each season they've been in the W-League.

"The PDL team has really had a lot to live up to ... the girls have been tremendous," said McCurdy.

"Maybe, (before the season), we'd have probably been satisfied with a mid-table position.

"Now, we'll be slightly disappointed if we don't make the playoffs."

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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