With a roster filling up nicely, leaders taking control and new additions providing talented depth, Ottawa Fury FC headed down highway 401 to visit USL neighbors to the south Toronto FC II for one more preseason exhibition match on Sunday.
For this Sunday feature, Head Coach Nikola Popovic decided to inject some fresh legs in his starting lineup, giving recently signed Gabriel Balbinotti and local trialist Montther Mohsen a shot at showing their skills.
After a nervous start and spending the first five minutes adjusting to the width of the pitch, Fury FC settled in to the style they had worked hard at establishing in camp and regained their composure. They found their pace, and began to move the ball in a much more coordinated fashion, as if following a carefully choreographed dance.
Fury players maintained possession and distributed it nicely through the first two thirds of the field, only falling short at creating any real chances on goal. They however showed for the first time this preseason that they could apply high pressure against a USL opponent, which they hadn’t had a chance to test against Nashville for lack of substitutes.
Toronto FC II also showed flashes of threats, their best one coming at the 30th minute when they were awarded a free kick a few steps outside the 18 yard box, which was headed straight at goal but easily controlled by a commanding Crépeau.
Fury FC entered the second half hungry, continuing to pressure on top, putting together multiple runs early on. The substitution of Sito in the striker position also added legs to the process, allowing Ottawa to push.
Ottawa did better in second half to control the ball, but possession was still as elusive. Falvey and Haworth connected on a couple occasions, while Taylor and Salazar also pierced through the TFCII defense at times.
It was ultimately that relentless pressure that ended up getting the better of Toronto FC II, and when frustration started brewing in their ranks, Ottawa struck with a quick cross from the flank, from Sito to Haworth, who converted, making it 1-0 for Ottawa.
Fury FC showed some serious speed on top, with Sito, Salazar and Jimmy Sanon pressing Toronto’s back four continuously for the last 15 minutes. But Toronto FC II held on.
Ottawa will travel back to Toronto on Friday for its last preparation match, this time against League1 Ontario All-Stars. The match, scheduled for 9:45 a.m., will be streamed live on League1 Ontario Livestream [https://livestream.com/accounts/8629960/events/8087168]. The contest will also mark the end of preseason training camp for the Ottawa group that will then turn its attention to the start of the 2018 USL season set for March 17 when it visits the Independence in Charlotte.
For the full schedule and ticket information, visit OttawaFuryFC.com.
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
On the game… “It was a difficult game, making the 5-hour trip on the day of the game, and that’s why I never looked at the scoreboard. We won 1-0 but I’m not satisfied with the performance of the game. We have to do much better than this.”
“We couldn’t control the game, we lost control several times during the game. We are having trouble detecting the space. I’m not satisfied with the performance but the team is showing something that is very important and that is character. Even when things were not going so well, the team was able to fight and get the result.”
On including Balbinotti and Mohsen in the starting XI… “The same motivation that I have to put Kevin, Dixon, Bruna… they are Fury FC players, so from that moment I can choose the eleven!”
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3)
Crépeau; Mohsen (trialist) (Manesio 86’), Obasi, Falvey, Porter; Oliveira, Dixon, Bruna (Meilleur-Giguère 46’); Taylor (Salazar 58’), Balbinotti (Sito 46’), Haworth (Sanon 76’)
Toronto FC II
Angoitia, Andrews, Eckenrode, Boskovic, Bjornethun, Fraser, Srbely, Uccello, Daniels, Telfer, Spencer
75’ – Haworth (Sito)