Ottawa vs. Atlanta, 2015: The day that may have changed the course of the Fury franchise By Steven Sandor Posted on October 25, 2016 1 0 942 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Marc Dos Santos Remember Marvel’s What If? comic series? Basically, each issue pondered what would happen if one small thing changed in the Marvel Universe. (I still like the issue where Peter Parker became a spy). Well, I am going to play What If? right now. What if, in 2015, Ottawa hadn’t rested its players on the final weekend of the regular season? Would the team be leaping towards USL for the 2017 season? To me, that road date in Atlanta was likely the most important game in the NASL history of the Ottawa Fury. Let’s go back in time: The Fury were atop the combined NASL standings with one week to go. If the Fury beat the Silverbacks in Atlanta, the team would have finished on top and guaranteed itself home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But, Dos Santos went with a reserve side, choosing to rest key starters. The Fury only got a tie with the Silverbacks. The New York Cosmos took the No. 1 seed. The Fury got 9,346 out to TD Place to watch the Fury beat Minnesota 2-1 in the semis. To think, had the Fury not rested their players, how many would the team have drawn for the final in Ottawa? More than 12K to be sure. And, maybe, just maybe, with that kind of grand finale, with more media attention, it might have just generated that much more interest and ticket buys for the 2016 season. Of course, if Ottawa had hosted the game, there would have a been a better chance that the Fury would have won it. And being a past champion carries weight. Would that have committed owners more to the NASL model? There are those who will argue that the Fury’s plan to rest players rather than go for first allowed the team to be fresh for the Minnesota final. But, to have a chance to host the final, and willingly pass it up? That decision might not have only cost the Fury a chance at the 2015 Soccer Bowl, but it might be the one that put the team on the path out of NASL. Yes, there are a lot of factors that led the Fury to where the team is today. And Dos Santos had already announced he would be leaving the team before that Atlanta game (and the subsequent playoffs) But it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that a late-season game in Atlanta was where the Fury franchise began to slide downhill.