Ottawa Fury heading to New York for Sunday's NASL final
As many as 400 fans from Ottawa expected at Hofstra University for league championship game
One last trademark practice full of sweat, sprints and yelling in several languages wrapped up at TD Place Thursday before an 11 a.m. bus ride that started the Ottawa Fury's journey to New York City for the North American Soccer League final.
"Training is always very intense, I get that question a lot when people come to watch training for the first time or haven't followed the team — they're always surprised with the intensity of training," said head coach Marc Dos Santos after practice.
"It's been like that since day one, we're creatures of habit as men. If you want to play in a high-intensity mode, you have to train in a high-intensity mode. That's something we deal with every day and we make sure the players have that mentality."
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Dos Santos said they've tried to be in a playoff mindset all year long so last Sunday's semifinal win over Minnesota and this Sunday's championship game against the New York Cosmos would feel as normal as possible.
"I see coaches that prepare more when it's a final but people that know the work we've done since day one, we prepare a game against Atlanta or a game against the last place team the same way," he said.
"We're very detailed preparing things, we respect the opponent a lot regardless so we're going to keep preparing the same way."
"Yes it's the final but if guys do the same things they've done in the last few games… they'll be fine," said defender Drew Beckie.
"The first 15 minutes you get out of your system and you're ready to play. People say it's a 90 minute game but really the first 15 minutes are a battle... hopefully we do well in the first 15 minutes and get out to a good start."
Fury, Cosmos very even
The New York Cosmos finished with the same record (15 wins, four losses, 11 ties) and same goal differential (+19), but they scored more goals than the Fury so they were awarded the number one seed in the playoffs and home field advantage for the Soccer Bowl on that second tiebreaker.
Ottawa and New York played three times between the NASL's spring and fall seasons and split their three meetings with a win, a loss and a tie each.
"It's different if you go to New York, play against them and the three games you played against them you lost then maybe in the mental side there's no way we could do that," said Dos Santos.
"But we played New York three times this year: we lost 1-0, we tied 0-0 and we won 4-1 so it says we can beat them. It also says they only lost against us in their house, so we have to repeat something big that we did... it's not always easy to do but it's very psosible."
Dos Santos said the Fury would be getting comfortable in their hotel when they arrive Thursday, getting used to the city and watching some videos.
"We don't want to change a lot, we know what's proven," Beckie said.
"We're going to have the same breakfast, we're going to have the same routine, we're going to have the same prematch speech. Everyone wants to play for Marc and everybody wants to play for each other, nothing needs to change there."
The team said Thursday around 300 to 400 friends, family and fans from Ottawa are expected at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University on Long Island for the game, which kicks off at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Canadian Association of New York, which organizes and promotes Canadian-focused events in the New York City area, has also put out a call for people to support the Fury at the game.
Defender wins humanitarian award
The NASL also announced Thursday that Beckie has won their humanitarian award for his organization "Walking In Grief's Shadow (WINGS)" that supports children who have lost a parent and parents who have lost a spouse.
Beckie, whose father died when he was 11, said it's a nice recognition of the program as a whole.
"I want it to be for the families, I don't care about individual recognition. It's for the people that need help and I'm glad we could start a program with the help of the Fury," he said.
The award follows Dos Santos being named coach of the year, Romuald Peiser being named goalkeeper of the year and the team winning the Fair Play award for the fewest red and yellow cards received.