OTTAWA – Ottawa Fury FC announced on Tuesday it had signed Guinean forward Hadji Barry, pending league and federation approval, bolstering its attack as it looks to make a run at the winning the USL Championship this season. Badji returns to the Championship in Ottawa having spent the past six months playing in Israel.
“Hadji [Barry] is a huge addition to the squad,” said 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 with Kiryat Shmona of the Israeli Premier League, where he featured in 14 of his club’s 16 games and scored three goals. Barry spent the 2018 season with Swope Park Rangers in the USL Championship, where he recorded 19 goals in 36 games across the regular season and playoffs, while also recording five assists.
Barry set a Championship record with goals in eight consecutive games a season ago for the Rangers and was named to the All-League Second Team as he averaged a goal every 155 minutes Swope Park at a conversion rate of 30.2 percent. Barry was also one of the most aggressive players in the league on the ball, completing 63 of 147 dribbles while sitting in the top 10 in dribbles attempted and completed in the league.
“I’m happy to be coming to Ottawa, it’s been a long time coming,” said Barry. “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.”
The 26-year-old 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 Major League Soccer and the 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 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,” said 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.