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Fury FC adds prolific striker Hadji Barry with sights set on USL Championship title

By Ottawa Fury FC, 08/02/19, 3:00PM EDT

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Ottawa Fury FC made a power move on Wednesday by adding prolific scorer Hadji Barry to its roster, thus setting its sights on a top of the table spot and potential USL Championship title. The Guinea-born forward returns to North American soccer, where he honed his craft since turning pro in 2016, after spending the last six months playing in Israel.

“Hadji [Barry] is a huge addition to the squad,” commented Ottawa Fury FC General Manager Julian de Guzman. “He’s a guy we’ve been talking about for quite some time, and we’re excited to have him on board for the rest of the season. He’s a proven goal scorer. This is a guy that will add more value for us upfront, and his experience playing in USL Championship puts us in a different mindset: now we’re not just aiming for playoffs, we want a trophy. Hadji is a guy that can make a difference for us in that quest.”

Barry spent the early half of 2019 in Israel with first-division Kiryat Shmona, where he featured in 14 of his club’s 16 games and scoring three goals. Barry spent the 2018 season with Swope Park Rangers in the USL Championship, featuring in 33 of the 34 league games that year, plus two playoff matches, scoring 19 times and providing five assists. He was one of the highest-ranked players in USL Championship after the 2018 season, making the All-League Second Team, averaging 0.5 goals per 90 minutes, 0.7 goals + assists per game. Known for his dribbling skills, he sat 5th in the league, not far behind then-leader Christiano François, who he will join on Fury FC’s attacking line.

“I’m happy to be coming to Ottawa, it’s been a long time coming,” offered Barry on his arrival. “I’m excited for Julian [de Guzman], coach [Nikola Popovic] and his coaching staff to give me this opportunity. I’m excited for what’s to come, and I hope I can help to bring this team success.”

Barry, 26, was selected in the first round (13th overall) of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City. The Lions traded up to pick Barry, with D.C. United originally holding the 13th overall selection. He went on to spend most of the 2016-2017 seasons splitting time between MLS and USL Championship, representing Orlando City and Orlando City B, before joining Swope Park in January 2018.

In total, during his USL Championship days, Barry played 60 matches collecting 31 goals and six assists in the making. In 2017, he was Orlando City B’s leading scorer, bagging 10 goals in just 18 appearances. He also made 11 appearances in MLS play with Orlando City, including four starts, and featuring in three matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Hadji is a player I wanted to bring here for a long time,” added Fury FC Head Coach Nikola Popovic. “He fits very well in our model of play, he’s explosive and has a lot of quality. It’s a great addition for us at this time in the season and gives us more options on the front line.”

Born in Conakry, Guinea but raised in Rochester, New York, Barry played college soccer first at Monroe Community College, before transferring to the University of Central Florida ahead of his junior season. While at Monroe, Barry earned Region II Player of the Year, Championship MVP and First Team honours. In his first season at UCF, Barry scored once in 16 games before exploding in his senior season, tallying a team-leading 11 goals for the Knights.

While considered a domestic player in USL Championship thanks to his American citizenship, Barry has represented his native country playing with the Guinea Men’s National Team in two Africa Cup of Nations qualifier matches in November 2018 and March 2019.

Barry will join Fury FC in training immediately, with Ottawa preparing for a weekend matchup against Birmingham Legion at TD Place on Friday, August 2 (KO 7 p.m., tickets OttawaFuryFC.com). With a favourable stretch of games and a semi-final berth in the Canadian Championship ahead, Fury FC fans should be eager to see Barry in action sooner than later.