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MATCH PREVIEW | OTTAWA FURY FC @ CHARLESTON BATTERY

By Ottawa Fury FC, 03/08/19, 9:00AM EST

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2019 USL Championship Season Opener
Ottawa Fury FC @ Charleston Battery
Kickoff: Saturday, March 9 – 7:30 p.m.
MUSC Health Stadium, Charleston, SC

Viewing party hosted by the Bytown Boys at The Senate on 1159 Bank St tomorrow night. EVENT DETAILS

OTTAWA - Ottawa Fury FC opens its 2019 USL Championship season this Saturday, March 9, in Charleston against the Battery (KO 7:30 p.m., OttawaFuryFC.com). Buoyed by a positive preseason camp and promising performances in its prep matches, Fury FC is ready to get down to business. 

STORYLINES

  • Fury FC opens its 2019 USL Championship season on the road at Charleston Battery, fresh off a preseason training camp segment spent at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in warm and humid temperatures. These training conditions should prepare the club for an improved start of the season.
    • Slow start of season performance wise is a trend that is seen across Canadian pro soccer clubs, attributed to training environments at home and weather acclimation, amongst other factors. 
  • Fury FC can count on 11 returning players that were part of the squad in 2018, including some core leadership figures the likes of Carl Haworth ©, Jamar Dixon and Nana Attakora.
  • Ottawa will also rely on new abilities brought in through the signing of new, seasoned players like Christiano François, Charlie Ward, Wal Fall and Dakota Barnathan. A total of 11 new faces have been added to the 2019 roster.
  • Under the guidance of GM Julian de Guzman and Head Coach Nikola Popovic, Fury FC continues to offer valuable professional development opportunities to “above average” Canadian players. 15 Canadians (68%) feature in Ottawa’s formation this season, half of them aged 23 years old or younger.
  • Fury FC has historically faired ok against Charleston Battery, both sides splitting three of their four all-time decisions, and Charleston claiming a 2-0 win in the fourth match, the final 2018 matchup for Fury FC. 

SCOUTING THE CHARLESTON BATTERY
The Charleston Battery reached the USL Cup Playoffs for the eighth consecutive season in 2018, continuing their streak as the lone club to reach the postseason in every year of the league’s history, but for a second consecutive year they were eliminated at home in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals by the New York Red Bulls II. That defeat completed a disappointing end of the regular season that saw Charleston win only three times in its final 13 games to finish fourth in the East after a start that looked promising to add a second USL Cup to its trophy case.

Despite that late-season downturn, however, the Battery should be considered a solid playoff contender again this season. The side returns All-League First Team midfielder Tah Anunga – who broke out as one of the best two-way midfielders in the league – Trinidad & Tobago international forward Ataulla Guerra and stalwart center back Taylor Mueller. Goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky also returns after taking the No. 1 spot from Odisnel Cooper a season ago. (via USL Championship)


WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Head Coach Nikola Popovic
On the team’s preparation ahead of the Charleston game… “[Preparation] is going very well. We know that we are going to face a very difficult team, one of the top four teams of our conference, so we expect a very difficult game. In the beginning of the season, it is very difficult to understand how the opponent is going to play. However, we are prepared to have a good game.”

On the focus going into the game… “We have to focus on our performance. In the beginning of the season that is the most important thing, how the team is performing. We have to be very focused since the model of play is very demanding. If we are able to bring what we have been training for the past four weeks, we will be able to achieve a very good performance and this will lead us to a good result.”

Goalkeeper David Monsalve
On the team’s preparation… “It’s been good. We were set up for success [with the preseason format] and we’re looking forward to the first game of the season.”

On his role… “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. USL is a tough league, there’s a lot of variety in terms of styles of play varying from team to team. For me it’s going to be an adjustment, sitting out last year and being in more of a supporting role is obviously much different from what I’m trying to do this year. I’m just taking it day by day, training by training, game by game, and hoping to progress and build in every session.”

Midfielder Kevin Oliveira
On the team’s preparation… “So far it feels very good. The team looks good. We had a couple games that prepared us very well. We’re ready for this week, so let’s go!”

On the system and how it suits his play… “For sure, this is a system that you guys will see more from me. This is how I play. This is my game, a lot of possession, and I’m pretty sure you will see a different Kevin this year, with more goals and more assists. This is what I’m ready to do.”

HOW TO WATCH
LIVE STREAM: OttawaFuryFC.com
TWITTER: Follow @OTTAWAFURYFC for LIVE updates