You won’t find a bigger name in the indoor game than Bernie Lilavois. He has been one of the top indoor players and coaches for the past 20+ years. Currently he serves as head coach and president of the Ontario Fury of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL).
Expectations are very high for the Fury and the upcoming MASL season.
“Every season winning the championship is always the goal and this year is no different,” Lilavois commented. “Off the field we hope to continue to grow our fan base and our community outreach efforts.
The amount of talent assembled on the 2015-16 squad is truly impressive. It all starts with Tiguinho, a star midfielder who was an all-league selection and led the Fury in goals, assists, and points last season. He has been a stalwart for the Fury since day one.
Two former MLS stars, forward Tino Nunez and midfielder Israel Sesay, are other key cogs in the team’s attack. Nunez, who played for the 2009 MLS Cup Champions Real Salt Lake, was the team’s second-leading scorer. Sesay has always been known for his lightning speed, but he is now equally impressive on defense. No wonder he was a standout with the LA Galaxy, making his debut at the tender age of 17.
The team will have a local flavor thanks to a successful round of open tryouts. Many of the players will be new to the indoor game, but the team will have great mentors and coaches to lead the way.
Lilavois will lead a coaching staff that is full of new faces, but he believes that it is a major positive for the organization.
“I have three new assistants that I'm bringing on board who have played the indoor game at the professional level and are currently very active in our surrounding area coaching youth for several high-profile clubs. Many soccer fans will know the name Cle Kooiman as he was also a U.S. Men’s National Team star and I'm excited to finally get him on my staff as I've been trying for a few years now.”
Adding another big name to the Fury is just one exciting development for the club. There is already a lot of positive buzz surrounding recent rule changes announced by the league.
“I think we are still a league that is a work in progress and rule changes are just a part of that growth,” Lilavois added. “We continue to look at player safety while keeping the excitement of the game for the fans and keeping it as simple as possible for the referees. Only time will tell if these new changes are what we need to keep or make more adjustments.”
Last season was one to remember thanks to some really great games, moments fans won’t soon forget.
The most memorable one has to be the home playoff game against the Las Vegas Legends. The Fury had a huge crowd of over 4,000 as the entire community was enthused about seeing the first playoff game in franchise history. Even though the Fury lost 6-5, it was an incredible match for the fans as Ontario nearly pulled it off in the final few moments thanks to an extra attacker.
It wasn’t the only big moment of last season. There was also a really interesting road trip in the mix as well.
“It was our back-to-back road trip early last season when we traveled across the country to Syracuse and Rochester,” Lilavois concluded. “We struggled the first night in Syracuse after a very long road trip due to weather delays and arrived in town literally two hours before kickoff. But the team bounced back the next night in Rochester and we won in overtime. I was really proud of the boys.”
The 2015-16 season is sure to be an exciting one thanks to all of the changes and most importantly, the rivalries that continue to develop over time. Fury fans have already labeled key matches against San Diego, Las Vegas, and Turlock as must-see events.
Simply put, it is a great time to be a fan of the Ontario Fury.