With one last preseason match lineup before the start of the 2018 USL season, Fury FC visited the Ontario Soccer Centre on Friday afternoon to face off against League1 Ontario All-Stars.
While Head Coach Popovic didn’t have all his starters at his disposal, preferring to play it safe ahead of next Saturday’s season opener, a total of 18 players saw the field in the last test of the preseason, showing great character and a truly united front.
After a sluggish start, which created the opportunity for League1 Ontario All-Stars to open the score on a set play, Fury FC found their pace in the 10th minute when Dos Santos rewarded Haworth for a perfectly timed run in behind. Haworth would level the score at one and the rest of the Ottawa side got into gears.
One element that seemed to have been added to the arsenal this week was the long ball on the flank from wingers to running forwards. Fury FC capitalized on a number of those throughout the game, increasing the score at the 15th minute on a quick play off a free kick, Dos Santos connecting once more with his captain, making it Haworth’s second of the day.
Strikers were in fine form on the day, connecting on short, quick passes and moving the ball quickly. It was one of the club’s best display of possession so far in preseason, at times maintaining the ball for more than 80% of the time.
Sito was setup nicely by Dos Santos and Haworth to add to the Fury tally in the 33rd minute. The Spaniard, who played out of position for the duration of the game, did well to stick to the team’s style and feed his teammates from his midfielder role.
The League1 Ontario All-Stars threatened on a few occasions, particularly on the wings, and exposed the Ottawa defense, who was backed by an Irving in complete control in front of the net.
Fury FC added one more just before the half, when Haworth returned the favour and setup Dos Santos, who put it past the keeper’s hands, giving Ottawa a commanding 4-1 lead going in to the half.
Popovic made seven substitutions for the start of the second half, allowing recent additions and players who hadn’t seen as much playing time so far to test themselves in his system.
And the players did not waste the opportunity to show their readiness, setting up Reid for a quick goal in the 47th minute. Reid, who had just returned to the team this week following the new loan agreement with FC Dallas, is another Canadian addition that will bring explosiveness to the Fury roster.
Despite the scoreline giving clear advantage to Fury FC, the lads were tested early in the second frame when Azake Luboyera was taken down by a hard tackle, and would not return to the field. Opting to protect some of his main signings from injuries ahead of the season, Popovic decided not to replace Luboyera and Fury FC played over 35 minutes down a man.
That did not stop the crew from adding one final goal to the box score, when Salazar powered through the League1 Ontario defenders, past the keeper to gently put the ball in the back of the net, making it 6-1 for the Ottawa club.
In the end, it was the overwhelming game of possession and relentless runs in behind that allowed Fury FC to run away with the win.
As Head Coach Popovic would say, much remains to be done to fully prepare for the start of the season, but players and coaching staff alike agree that all has been done to prepare as best as conditions allowed, and that the character and drive the team has shown in preseason bodes well for the USL season.
Fury FC will travel Friday to Charlotte ahead of its first game of the 2018 USL season, where it will face the Independence on Saturday night.
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3)
Irving (GK); Mohsen (Sanon 46’), Manesio, Falvey (Edward 46’), Porter (Meilleur-Giguère 46’); Sito, Obasi, Dixon (Luboyera 46’); Taylor (Balbinotti 46’), Dos Santos (Salazar 46’), Haworth (c) (Reid 46’)
4’ – Watson
10’ – Haworth (Dos Santos)
15’ – Haworth (Dos Santos, Sito)
33’ – Sito (Haworth, Dos Santos)
45’+ - Dos Santos
47’ – Reid
77’ – Salazar