Home NASL & USL Ottawa Fury Q&A: Paul Dalglish

Q&A: Paul Dalglish

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The USL’s Austin Aztex announced that the club would not play in 2016 because of issues securing a suitable soccer stadium that the team could call its own. That left Aztex coach Paul Dalglish looking for work rather than preparing his squad for the upcoming season. But, timing is everything; as Dalglish hit the job market, the  Ottawa Fury confirmed that coach Marc Dos Santos would not be back in 2016. Dalglish got MDS’s old job — but, will it be a marriage made in heaven?

PP: Did you approach the Fury, or did the Fury approach you?

PD: I don’t know exactly which way around it was. I’ve had a relationship with (Fury president) John Pugh for a while, since the PDL days. With Marc leaving and Austin announcing that it wouldn’t be playing next year, the timing was perfect for myself and Ottawa.

PP: If the Aztex could have found a stadium, would you have stayed in Texas?

PD: For sure, I would have stayed. I’d only just started a project there. When you’re an expansion team, the first year is not about winning. It’s about laying down a foundation for the future. It’s in year two, year three, that you start fulfilling expectations and start achieving things. I’m disappointed that the stadium situation in Austin didn’t give me that chance.

PP: Officially, the USL is the third division in North American soccer and the NASL is the second division. Do you think that the NASL standard of play is better than USL’s?

PD: No. If you look back to last year, I think every single USL team beat their NASL opponents in the U.S. Open Cup. With the Aztex, we played San Antonio and we beat them. But it is difficult to compare the leagues. USL is higher-tempo, but more of a direct game. In NASL, it’s a slower pace, there’s more patience in the play. There’s really no difference in terms of level, but they are very different in terms of style.

PP: Ottawa played in the NASL championship in 2015. Do you feel the pressure of building on that standard for 2016?

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN PLASTIC PITCH #8.

PD: In lower leagues, you’re always in a constant state of flux. Every year is a rebuilding year, because of the nature of the contracts in the lower leagues. You are dealing with roster turnover that’s much larger than you’d see in MLS. So, you’re not looking to build, you’re in a constant state of rebuild. But, with the players we’ve got, with the budget we have, we’ll be able to put a top-level product on the pitch. There’s a lot of pressure on me to be successful. I don’t like to be second.

PP: You played in MLS, with the Houston Dynamo, back in 2006. You’ve been on coaching staffs in MLS, at FC Tampa Bay, and in USL. Now, with NASL, do you see your job as needing to keep the team to ever-rising standards of the league?

PD: It’s a tough one, it’s like comparing Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. It’s difficult to compare teams from different generations and leagues from different years. The game continues to change, so some years will be better than others. What I can say is that the growth of football has been phenomenal in the last 10 years. When I came to North America, there was only 12 teams in MLS at that time and the only other league we had was USL. Now we have USL, NASL and MLS is over 20 teams. I think, with all of the expansion, the players may be diluted a bit, and so the standard of play might be diluted a bit. There are only so many American players to go around, and (in NASL), you can only have seven international players.

PP: You spoke of American players, but do you plan to keep looking to add Canadian players to the team, as well?

PD: For sure. We need good Canadian players, we need good American players. We need as many of them as we can get, because you’re only allowed seven international players, good domestic players are a necessity. So, we will give Canadian players a chance. As well, it’s part of the mission of the club — to provide opportunities to Canadian players. It was made very clear to me when I took this job. In fact, there are a couple of Canadian players who aren’t with the club that we’re tracking right now.

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