It’s Week 6 in Craig’s Corner. Welcome in, but understand that strict social distancing is being observed.

The Guy You Don’t Know

The Ontario Fury became the seventh (and final, more on that shortly) team to enter the MASL fray when they traveled to St. Louis for back-to-back wins on Friday and Saturday night. The Fury pulled one out against a deeply short-handed Ambush side on Friday night, with Franck Tayou’s hat trick goal in the final minute securing a 5-4 victory.

St. Louis had six players sitting out the weekend due to COVID protocols, and three more due to injury. Key guys like Max Ferdinand and Paulo were on that list, lost to quarantine. Duduca--the power forward who creates the spacing the Ambush need--could only watch, out for the season. Lucas Almeida was unavailable on Saturday, a tenth lost. Team Interesting turned into Team Hang On and Work Hard.  

Saturday’s game, they hung on and worked hard, but were overwhelmed. The Fury looked like a side that was fit, well-coached and prepared. They scored pretty goals, unselfish goals, were fast and strong, and dominated the closing stretch.

In doing so, the guys we know all showed up. Franck Tayou brings it every year, and scored two hat tricks in ho-hum fashion. Goal crashers, rebounds, an empty netter. Smart. Franck knows where to be and when. Justin Stinson, one of the best dribblers in the league, put an Ambush defender on roller skates in the second quarter. Charlie Gonzalez, Nestor Hernandez, Uzi (who should be allowed to live tweet while on the field); we know these guys.

The question for Ontario is in net. Chris Toth is in Tacoma, a Goalkeeper of the Year lost to free agency. Veteran “Chuy” Molina is there, but probably can’t do more than back up at this stage of his long and productive career. And that leaves the kid, the 22-year-old Brazilian who’s had a handful of starts but has never been “the guy”: Claysson de Lima.

Well, we know better than to put too much on one weekend. We know the competition’s top scoring and creating threats were largely sidelined. But with those caveats aside, Claysson de Lima looked terrific. He was athletic, long, and well positioned. Multiple times, de Lima made combination saves, with the talent and quickness to get from one side to another. He communicated and moved in his area decisively.

Last year, the Fury at times were an indoor soccer version of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, putting up a volume of shots and goals and counting on Toth to erase the chances that arose on the other end. If de Lima is going to be good enough to make Toth’s disappearance less of a factor, look out. Ontario was peaking at the end of 2019-20, and may be ready to pick up where they left off.

The Fury still has their King up front, and maybe they found an ace up their sleeve.