Callum Irving looks forward to Canadian homecoming with Ottawa Fury FC

Jan 8, 2016; Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA; Team Ace goalkeeper Callum Irving,(10) kicks the ball during the MLS combine at Central Broward Regional Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2016; Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA; Team Ace goalkeeper Callum Irving,(10) kicks the ball during the MLS combine at Central Broward Regional Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports /

After a strong rookie season in South Texas, Vancouver native Callum Irving is set to return to The North as a goalkeeper for Ottawa Fury FC.

Following a great four-year run at the University of Kentucky, Callum Irving was set to be an early selection in the MLS Superdraft. However, things did not go as planned. The native of Canada went undrafted, many believing it was due to his requiring an international spot per MLS rules. Since then, that rule has been slightly altered, resulting in him now being considered a domestic player. Also, he now has a year of professional soccer under his belt.

Irving spent his rookie season in goal for the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, the USL affiliate of the Houston Dynamo. He split time with three other keepers, but was remarkable with a .65 goals against average in his 14 appearances. Last week, his option was not be picked up by RGVFC, probably because of a surplus of quality goalkeepers in the Dynamo organization.

Yesterday, it was announced he will be returning to Canada, the country that once called him up to their senior national team. He will be a member of the Ottawa Fury FC, a club moving from the NASL to the USL in 2017

I was able to catch up with the player nicknamed “The Great Wall of Canada”about what he learned as a rookie, the USL, and a message to fans of his new club.

Playing for 90: First off, what are your initial thoughts on joining Ottawa Fury FC?

Callum Irving: I’m extremely excited to be joining Ottawa Fury FC. It’s a fantastic club, with great fans, that has shown a commitment to succeeding on the pitch. I’m honored to hopefully play a major role in their first year in the USL.

PF90: You have the opportunity to now return to Canada as a professional. What does that mean to you?

Irving: It means everything to me to be able to play in Canada again. It’s been years since I’ve played a real game on home soil, so for me to be able to play every home match in front of Canadian supporters, and in my home country, is truly special.

PF90: What was the biggest lesson you learned in your stellar rookie season?

Irving: The biggest lesson I learned in my rookie season would have to be learning how to deal with setbacks. It was an up and down year to begin with, as well as at times with RGV. I had to learn how to mentally deal with that while keeping my performances on the field at a high level.

PF90: Ottawa will be in their inaugural season as a USL club in 2017. Following your experience last year, how would you describe the level of play to someone that’s not familiar with the league?

Irving:  The level of play is very high. Everyone in the league is hungry to not only showcase themselves and try and move up in the game, but also showcase the league. It’s extremely professional and a lot of fun to watch with a lot of great young players.

PF90: What will you need to do to earn the starting goalkeeping job?

Irving: I’ll need to come in from day 1 and show a commitment to the team as a whole. I’ve learned that you really have to be a good teammate and team player in order to make an impact as an individual. So I just plan on working hard, listening to the coaches, and focusing on making the team better. The rest will take care of itself.

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PF90: You spent 2016 on a team located in the deep south of Texas, close to Mexico. How much Spanish did you learn?

Irving: *Laughs* Virtually none! I learned a word here or there, but I managed to get by using my English down there!

PF90: Lastly, what would you like to say to the supporters of Ottawa Fury FC?

Irving: I’d like to say that I’m super excited to get to TD Place and play in front of all of you. The team is looking to bring an exciting and winning brand of football to the field and it would give us a massive boost to see as many seats filled as possible! Hopefully they all have a great holiday season and come back as charged up for 2017 as the team will be!