“Confident” Fury Looks to Bounce Back at Turlock

by Gunnar Berndt

Head Coach Nordberg draws positive conclusion from OT Loss to Monterrey

By Gunnar Berndt

Ontario, Calif. – Following a weekend that saw the Ontario Fury suffer an agonizing 6-5 overtime defeat to hosts Monterrey Flash, Head Coach Jimmy Nordberg emphasized his side’s strong play against one of the giants of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) and looked ahead to the away clash at Turlock with confidence. Having started the season on fire before dropping four of its past five matches, Ontario will need to defeat its bottom-dwelling Pacific Division rivals in order to maintain a winning record and defend second place in the standings.

The meeting between the Fury and home side Turlock Express is scheduled to kick off this coming Friday, February 1, at 7:05 p.m. PT and will be streamed live here.

Against Monterrey, the visiting Californians trailed 4-2 at the interval, courtesy of some standout play by opposition attacker Franck Tayou and several shots off the post by Fury striker Adrien Perez. However, Head Coach Nordberg’s men showed impressive fight in the second half, getting the next two goals to draw level and tying things up once more after falling behind 5-4 in the fourth quarter. While Francisco Cordeiro provided both of Ontario’s goals in the closing period of regulation time, Mexican veteran Victor Quiroz led the Fury attack with a goal and two assists on the day.

With his squad ultimately having to surrender to a Miguel Vaca strike in overtime, Nordberg drew an overall positive conclusion from the road trip but also pointed to areas of necessary improvement.

“I thought the second half was our best half of soccer all season, collectively as a unit,” he offered. “We came out and kept control of the ball. We dominated possession and were able to get goals. Something to sharpen up on is our mental focus. We tied the game up at four apiece and then instantly gave up a goal off the kickoff. Against good teams like Monterrey, you can’t afford to do that. I also don’t think we took advantage of our restarts enough, so that’s another thing we’re focusing on this week in training.”

Fury fans hope the work will pay off in the upcoming match in California’s Central Valley. Sitting at 7-6 on the season, their team’s slim advantage over the 5-6 Tacoma Stars means a win over Turlock is of the essence. While Friday’s foe has faced the expected struggles - having lost all twelve of its games thus far - two of its four defeats to Ontario have come by the smallest possible margin, including a 7-6 overtime decision in late December. According to Nordberg, it’s no coincidence both close contests between the two sides were played at Turlock Soccer Center, by far the smallest arena in the MASL.

“They usually get a decent crowd that really gets behind them,” said the man in charge of the Fury. “They play for those fans and the community and they’re going to work hard no matter their record or the score. And because the field is very small, the game can change in a matter of minutes. We could be in control and then they could get a little run and suddenly put us in a tough spot. All that makes it a difficult environment to play in, so we’re taking the game very seriously and looking at it as crucial to the rest of our season.”

While the Ontario offense is powered by Perez (leads MASL with 20 goals, fifth in points-per-game average with 2.7, and tied for fifth with 24 points), Cordeiro and Juan Carlos Gonzalez (17 points each), recent defensive acquisition Quiroz has impressed with a goal and three assists in his first two appearances. Goalkeeper Chris Toth is third in the league in both goals-against average (4.09) and saves percentage (.750).

Turlock features forwards Jorge Carmona and Carlos Manzo, who have shown flashes of attacking prowess over the course of the campaign and sit at 11 points and 10 points, respectively.

Jimmy Nordberg closed his remarks on the current state of his side on a positive note, as he put into perspective its record of 1-4 since January 5, which included the nail-biter against hosts Monterrey Flash as well as a pair of fiercely contested road battles with the mighty San Diego Sockers.

“The performances have been good,” said the Fury Head Coach. “We’ve been very close in all the games we’ve dropped. For example, we’ve lost a total of three times to the Sockers this season by a total of four goals. Going to Monterrey was very similar. We played very well and only lost in overtime. Narrow losses are opportunities for us to learn from our mistakes. It’s crucial for us to keep growing as a group, pay attention to the details and be mentally focused for sixty minutes plus.”

He added, “We’re definitely getting to where we want to be. The locker room is good and the guys are upbeat about things. I’m very confident we can get back on track and win those games come crunch time, including in the playoffs.”

The Ontario Fury looks to defend second place in the MASL Pacific Division standings when it travels to take on the Turlock Express on Friday, February 1. The team then returns home for a blockbuster clash with division-leading rivals San Diego on Thursday, February 7. Tickets to all Fury home games at Citizens Business Bank Arena may be purchased by by clicking here or by calling 909-457-0252.