OTTAWA - Ottawa Fury FC, closing its season opening road stint in Pittsburgh on Saturday, looked to breakdown a Hounds defense that had remained impenetrable until then and secure its first points of the 2018 USL season. Unfortunately for Ottawa, the size of the Hounds in this fight proved too big for the size of the fight in Fury FC who conceded a late goal to see Pittsburgh run away with a 1-0 win.
After two tough losses, Fury FC Head Coach Popovic had openly said earlier in the week that he was still working at understanding and leveraging the qualities his players bring. It was therefore no surprise he made changes to his starting lineup, hoping to mix things up, create more chances and solidify a more secure back line. As such, Eddie Edward and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau would get their first start of the season, breaking Callum Irving’s start streak dating back to the first match of the 2017 season in the process.
If the belief was strong among Fury FC players, their possession game not so much in the first half. The Ottawa side struggled to maintain control of the ball, forced to dig its heels in for most of the opening 45. Crépeau however stood tall in between the pipes, and Fury FC did well to withstand Pittsburgh repeated attacks on the left flank. No harm, (almost) no fouls; the two squads headed into the locker room tied at zero.
After a somewhat uneventful first period, Fury FC hopped back on the field determined to make things happen. And it seemed like their halftime adjustments were taking shape, Ottawa managing to string more passes together and on the way to increasing ball possession.
Following a scare in the 65th minute, where a Pittsburgh goal was disallowed because of an offside on the free kick, Fury FC got some life and organized a handful of runs, none of which would however be enough to threaten the Hounds.
Then things got heated. Emotions running high, Fury FC’s character was tested. Cautions were generously distributed in the final 15 minutes. Yet Fury FC was holding on. But in the 85th minute, after two consecutively defended corners, the Hounds breeched Ottawa’s defense and Pittsburgh’s Tobi Adewole scored his first professional goal.
As in their two previous matches, Fury FC did not fold, which once more earn them cautious praise from their Head Coach. While everyone in the Ottawa locker room would agree these are not the results they were expecting, they also all agree that the integrity and makeup of this club – its new, budding culture – will bear its fruit as they continue to apply the teachings of the gaffer. Three down, 29 to go.
Ottawa will return to Ottawa with its 2018 Home Opening Match on the horizon. Fury FC will look to break this unflattering trend on Saturday, April 21 when it hosts North Carolina FC at TD Place, dressed in its new stripes, in front of its ever supportive home crowd.
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
“This is the character that we want from the players. As I often say, this to me is not losing the game, it’s only running out of time. We fought until the end, we fought throughout the game. We created a good chance in the first half, some chances in the second half, and they did too; it was a very even game. It’s a very hard place to play, and I think the response the players gave in terms of character is very good. I think we are leaving here with our heads up, not down.”
“The main positive of this game is the fight the players have shown. Fighting for 98 minutes, trying until the very last minute. Even when there were strange things, things that may not really be considered fair play… they kept fighting until the end. They came after a very difficult result in Tampa and adjusted, showing great character.”
Full stats report on USL Match Centre | Watch Game Highlights
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3): Crépeau; Manesio, Mannella, Falvey ©, Edward; Bruna (Dixon 61’), Portilla, Oliveira; Salazar (Reid 87’), Dos Santos (Haworth 65’), Taylor
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (4-3-3): Lynd; Lee, Adewole, Pratzner, Lubahn (Kerr 71’); Zemanski (Holland 78’), Vancaeyezeele, Dabo; Forbes, Brett, François (Banjo 71’)
86’ – Adewole (Kerr)
57’ – Bruna
75’ – Zemanski
75’ – Portilla
90+3’ – Pratzner
90+4’ – Edward
76’ – Oppong (Assistant Coach)
Next Match: Saturday, April 21 v North Carolina FC – 2:00 pm – TD Place (Get tickets)