Photo: FC Cincinnati / USL
OTTAWA - On Saturday night, Ottawa Fury FC could not escape the heat – temperature and fan base wise – as they traveled to Nippert Stadium to face FC Cincinnati in front of 27,107 fans. Ottawa’s gritty performance showed confident, organised team play, but Fury FC ran out of time and conceded a 2-0 result to Cincinnati.
With a heavy stretch of competitive matches, Fury FC Head Coach Nikola Popovic had been clear that managing players’ health and recovery would be crucial to the team’s success. It therefore came as great news for Fury faithfuls that seasoned centreback Colin Falvey found his way back to the starting formation, giving Canadian Nana Attakora a well-deserved breather, and that international midfielder Cristian Portilla dressed for the first time since May 25 following a rib injury. It was indeed an Ottawa side showcasing a vigorous balance of experience and youth that donned on Fury FC colours on the night.
Despite solid team defending by Fury FC, it was FC Cincinnati that opened the score first in the 16th minute on a headed goal from striker forward off a beautiful cross by Blake Smith. That didn’t curb Ottawa’s intensity, and the Fury FC lads kept putting pressure, playing a compact defense waiting for the best counter opportunities. While Fury FC had trouble breaking into the last third, they earned some chances off set plays, knocking on FCC’s door on a few occasions.
Ottawa followed the game plan and showed they are an organised side, even as the game opened up slightly mid-way through the first frame. After a slightly slower start, Fury FC’s pressure granted them three dangerous corner shots late in the half which were unfortunately well defended by Cincy. The early goal would stand as both teams headed into the locker room, Ottawa trailing 0-1 with 45 minutes to play.
Fury FC came out of the half faster, building up and pushing guys forward to create in the attacking third, looking for the equalizer. As if they needed a show of their toughness – which no one wearing the white kit that night ever doubted – midfielder Chris Mannella kept playing after having his hand smashed under an opponent’s foot and getting back up with fingers as blue as FCC’s uniform.
Cincinnati’s forward Ledesma was one of the main threat on the night, but a confident Crépeau kept him at bay more often than none, conceding only that first early goal and making at least four determined saves in the second half alone. In addition, Ottawa’s defending had been rock-solid with key interceptions and clearances by Meilleur-Giguère and Falvey throughout the night.
Another difference for Fury FC in the second half came from their time of possession, Ottawa maintaining significantly more of it compared to the first half, applying their usual “work smarter, not harder” mentality to this scorcher of a match.
Despite heavy legs, there was no taming the fighting spirit of Fury FC. Under heavy attack in the final 10 minutes of the match, Ottawa stood their ground and made sure the men in orange and blue would not increase their shaky lead. They also did well to threaten and remind everyone at Nippert Stadium they would not go down easily.
The back-breaker came in added time, when Cincinnati surprised Fury FC with a nasty strike from Albadawi from outside the box that got past the stretched out fingers of Crépeau, giving FCC a security goal with less than two minutes to play.
In the end, FC Cincinnati showed why they are sitting on top of the Eastern Conference standings in the USL, while Ottawa Fury FC revealed once again they had the quality to hold them with gritty play between those bookends goals.
Fury FC will look to bounce back on Wednesday night when they wrap up this road trip at Indy Eleven (July 4, KO 7:00 p.m.) as they still have plenty of league play to make their way up the standings and reach that coveted playoff spot, sitting only four points behind with a couple games in hand.
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
“We have to be proud of the way our players fought, how they had the belief that we could change the result until the end of the game. We didn’t go into the game very well, we made some mistakes, but after that we settled down and started creating a lot of difficulties for Cincinnati. We came out for the second half very well and started creating chances after chances, but unfortunately we were able to score. We have to focus on our performance, and taking out some parts of the first half, I think the team performed very well.”
On the difference between first and second half… “It was a result of the game itself. It was 1-0. But even in the first half, we had some spots where we could get goals and take advantage, which we didn’t do. And we started doing that more in the second half and the chances came right away.”
On the aspect of the game that he’s most satisfied with… “In general it was a good game. There were some mistakes that we need to correct, but I cannot say it was the defense, the offense… in almost all the moments of the game we did good things, but it was one moment of lack of concentration that gave them their chance, and that was enough. We were the only team that was creating something. We had enough chances to score, but it didn’t happen; that’s the game.”
On the team's focus and short turnaround going into the game against Indy Eleven... "It's the same as this one.We know what it is, we do not create any excuses, so we have to play the game the best we can. We're going to try to recover quickly to be ready to play again [on Wednesday]."
Full stats report on USL Match Centre or download the Opta Stats Report
Watch Match Highlights | Download Match Photos
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3): Crépeau; Obasi, Meilleur-Giguère, Falvey, Edward; Oliveira, Mannella, Dixon; Reid (70’ Portilla), Taylor (82’ Sanon), Haworth ©
FC Cincinnati (4-4-2): Newton; Smith, Keinan ©, Lasso, Hoyte; Bone, Walker (69’ Welshman), Albadawi, Lahoud; Konig (90+5’ Haber), Ledesma (77’ McLaughlin)
16’ – König (Smith)
90+2’ - Albadawi
71’ – Oliveira
86’ – Smith
Next Match: Wednesday, July 4 @ Indy Eleven – 7:00 pm – Lucas Oil Stadium
Next Home Match: Wednesday, July 8 v Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – 1:00 pm – TD Place