MATCH DAY INFO
Ottawa Fury FC v Birmingham Legion FC
Kickoff: Friday, August 2 – 7:00 p.m. – TD Place
After an unfortunate 2-0 defeat away from home against Memphis 901 FC, Fury FC is back home and has its sight set on Birmingham Legion FC (KO 7 p.m., OttawaFuryFC.com). This will be the second encounter between the two teams this season, with the first match at BBVA Field ending in a 1-0 win for Ottawa. This time around, coach Nikola Popovic will have new signing Hadji Barry available for selection and who could be making his debut against Birmingham.
SCOUTING BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC
Birmingham Legion FC made a splash when it announced hometown standout Chandler Hoffman as its first signing midway through last year, and it only added to that since with the appointment of former Major League Soccer Head Coach Tom Soehn and the arrival of other notable names with USL Championship and MLS pedigree as it builds towards its first season in the league.
Joining Hoffman in the Magic City is former New York City FC and San Antonio FC midfielder Mikey Lopez and former Houston Dynamo midfielder Joe Holland, who could make an effective midfield tandem. There’s experience in goal from Matt van Oekel, while Daniel Johnson (Chicago Fire) and Femi Hollinger-Janzen (New England Revolution) join Hoffman in the club’s attacking corps. The biggest question, as it is for all expansion clubs, is how quickly Soehn will be able to turn this squad into a cohesive unit, a challenge made tougher by the loaded field that on paper makes up the Eastern Conference this season (via USL Championship).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
“We need to be consistent during the full 90 minutes. We can’t switch off at any moment in this league, because the other teams will take advantage of our errors. I think this will be the challenge against Birmingham, we can play well and have fantastic actions of play, but can we be consistent and play during 90 minutes at the same level? I think if we are able to achieve this, we will be in a good position at the end of the season.”
“Birmingham is a very dangerous team and there are no easy games in the USL. I think it will be a very even match and details are sometimes what decide games. They are also coming off a good run. They have won some games in a row and they are motivated. I think we just have to be ourselves and believe in what we do. We have to consistently apply our possession game and bring the three points home.”
Midfielder Charlie Ward
“I think we have prepared well. Obviously, coming off a loss on the weekend against Memphis, and the long travel we had Friday and Sunday, so we are trying to recover from that. We are getting ready for this game now. We are watching film on Birmingham and focusing on ourselves as well to see what we can improve from the last game, so that we can get a win in front of our fans.”
“I think they have got some good players in their team. Players that have played at the MLS level and they are a compact team defensively, so it is down to us when we are at home to try and break teams that try and sit in against us. We have to be patient in what we do, let the goals come, and just believe in what we do. It didn’t happen on the weekend, but you have games like that sometimes. However, it will come and we just have to be focused on what we can do and not focusing too much on the opponent. We just have to keep doing the right things.”
Forward Protais Mutambala
“I feel excited because it is going to be my first start, but there is a little bit of stress. We are going to see how it is going to go. I am just hoping to have a good start. Also, a good performance. Personally, I think I have to adjust myself to the team and the game.”