Photo: Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography/Ottawa Fury FC
Ottawa Fury FC made the most of a glorious opportunity to display their talents as they took the first leg of the Canadian Championship Semifinal at TD Place in an impressive fashion, defeating Toronto FC 2-1 in front of a boisterous crowd of 7600+.
Fury FC overturned a 1-0 halftime deficit to the MLS-leading Toronto FC into a 2-1 victory thanks to a lively second half effort and goals from Ryan Williams to pull Ottawa level and the match-winner from Sito that sent TD Place into euphoria with less than 20 minutes remaining.
The raucous crowd inside TD Place fueled an incredibly entertaining Battle of Ontario in the Semifinal chapter of the Battle of the North for the Canadian Championship. While the Toronto FC and Fury FC faithful did battle in the stands, an offensive tug of war played out on the pitch.
With an excited crowd behind them, Fury FC exploded out of the gate, leading to a corner inside the first few minutes of play and produced a quality chance as Sito took advantage of some loose TFC defending, striding through the middle of the pitch, testing Clint Irwin for the first time of the night.
A well-crafted 35th minute give-and-go saw Benoit Cheyrou give Toronto FC the lead in the first half. Fury FC displayed great resilience as the following minutes led to some promising offensive plays. In the 41st minute Onua Obasi shook off challenges through the midfield, making a charge down the left side placing a cross that eluded Clint Irwin in the Toronto goal but narrowly curled passed the back post.
The half ended with a possession split of 68-32 in favour of Toronto FC, as Toronto displayed the type of craft and technical ability you would expect from a top-class MLS-side. Despite this, Fury FC managed to get more corners and equal TFC’s shots on net, and looked to build on an encouraging tally of offensive chances coming into the second half.
Despite having noticeably lower possession, Fury FC produced quality offensive chances and were able to build on this in the second half. Fury FC displayed great resilience throughout the game, never once indicating that this was a David vs Goliath situation.
A 54th minute corner would lead to a Del Campo headed effort which struck the post. As TFC frantically attempted to clear, the ball found the foot of Sito who then blasted his effort off of Mitchell Taintor’s flung arm. Without hesitation referee Pierre-Luc Lauzière pointed to the penalty spot, and issued Taintor a yellow card. Ryan Williams, who has quickly become Fury FC’s penalty kick specialist this year, calmly got Irwin diving the other way, slotting his kick in the bottom right corner of the TFC goal. The successful conversion was Williams’ second from the penalty spot in two games.
Williams’ goal served as a platform from which to push for the second goal. In the 64th minute a ball again dropped graciously for Sito who labelled a shot into the palms of Clint Irwin.
Sito would then find a second chance for the coveted second goal on the night for Fury FC as Tucker Hume punctured the Toronto FC box, but was then wrestled to the ground. Hume displayed great composure as he used his sizable frame to his advantage by shielding the ball while on the ground just enough for Sito to pick it up, and strike a deflected shot into the bottom of the TFC net, sending the Fury faithful into another frenzy at TD Place in the 72nd minute. In six MLS contests this season, Toronto FC have never lost a game when leading after the first half.
For the second straight year Fury FC claimed victory in the opening leg of the Canadian Championship Semifinals and with a 2-1 aggregate lead will head to Toronto for the second leg on May 31 at BMO Field looking to punch their ticket to the Canadian Championship Final for the first time in club history.
Fury FC will now return to USL action at TD Place on Saturday afternoon when they host the Richmond Kickers at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets for that game and all Fury FC matches are available at OttawaFuryFC.com, by calling 613.232.6767 X1 or in person at The Box Office at TD Place.
Fury FC GM and Head Coach, Paul Dalglish:
“In my opinion, Toronto are the best ever Canadian team and the best team in the MLS right now. Even resting some of the big stars, it was still a big proposition for us and I thought the guys were fantastic. We had to try to play the game on our terms – try to be direct, make it physical and high-tempo and I think we did that fantastically well. The guys did everything we asked them to do. The coaching staff and I couldn’t be more proud of them tonight.”
Fury FC Captain, Lance Rozeboom:
The Canadian Championship is a fun event and a great event to be a part of. It’s great to be able to host an MLS team in Ottawa and I think the fans really enjoyed that so we’re happy to put on a show for our fans tonight. The guys battled extremely well, we’ve had a lot of games in the last few weeks and the guys continue to show their character and battle. I’m so proud of this group and we’ve got a tough couple games coming up"
Fury FC goalkeeper, Callum Irving:
As a Canadian, it's always a pleasure to be playing in the Canadian championship. For us to be able to get a crowd like this and get a big win against an MLS squad, I think it was fantastic in front of our own fans and it was a real honour for me to be on the field for that.”
Ottawa Fury FC (3-4-3): Irving; Obasi, Martin Del Campo, McEleney; Campbell, Rozeboom, Dixon (Manesio 71'), Edward; Sito (Sanon 79'), Hume (Barden 85'), Williams
Toronto FC (4-3-3): Irwin, Morrow (Moor 46'), Hernandez, Taintor, Edwards, Cheyrou (Morgan 68'), Edwards, Cooper (Ricketts 63'), Endoh, Osorio, Chapman, Hamilton
35' TFC - Cheyrou (Hamilton)
57' OTT - Williams (PK)
72' OTT - Sito
56' TFC - Taintor
78' OTT - Sito
86' TFC - Edwards
90+2' TFC - Edwards (second yellow)
May 27 vs Richmond Kickers- 2 p.m. - TD Place
Next Home Match:
May 27 vs Richmond Kickers- 2 p.m. - TD Place