Photo: Nashville SC / USL
OTTAWA - To close out a long week on the road, Fury FC traveled to Music City to face Nashville SC, entering the match level on points, both fighting for their spot in the USL playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. Fury FC, taking the black/red stripes on the road, could not find the right note and conceded a 2-0 win to Nashville SC.
Head Coach Popovic opted for a familiar starting lineup on Friday night, featuring six of the club’s prominent Canadians. It was also a battle of top keepers, as both Fury FC’s Maxime Crépeau (10), and Nashville’s Pickens (9), entered the match in the top 3 for clean sheets secured this season.
After a few half chances, Ottawa put together a dangerous strike resulting from another intelligent counter-attack in the 19th minute with a well-placed cross, unfortunately cleared last minute from the front of goal.
Supporting his attack, Eddie Edward earned Fury FC a free kick in a very dangerous area, just on the outside corner of the box. Portilla’s left-footed low delivery made its way to Pickens’ line, but the keeper cleared it in time. Shortly after, Nashville took the lead on a ball delivered across goal by Moloto to the foot of LaGrassa, giving the home side a 1-0 after 30 minutes of play.
Crépeau might have gotten himself a nomination for save of the week in stoppage time of the first half when a second ball was lofted back towards goal, forcing Crépeau to use some fancy footwork to keep the scoreline as is. One more save by Crépeau and teams retreated to the locker rooms with Nashville holding on to a narrow 1-0 lead.
Ottawa came out of halftime with the fighting spirit we’ve come to expect of them, putting pressure on Nashville from the get-go, including a 46th minute headed pass from Dos Santos that Haber put on target but was saved by the keeper.
Nashville added to their tally in the 58th minute after they were awarded a penalty for a push in the 18. Brandon Allen put it past Crépeau and the men in gold took a 2-0 lead.
Minutes into his first match since the injury that kept him away from the field for over a month, Carl Haworth got what had to be Fury FC’s best chance of the night, striking a fiery shot off the crossbar following a lovely combination with Taylor.
Fury FC threatened again in the 80th minute, packaging three consecutive corner-kicks, ultimately unable to capitalize on those chances.
Newcomer Daniel Kinumbe, in his first professional match, came up the left wing full speed only to see his long strike hit the woodwork in the dying minutes of the match, leaving an impression on all watching. Fury FC’s repeated attempt to claw back in the match could not level the score, and Nashville closed the match with a 2-0 win.
Ottawa will quickly turn their attention to the upcoming home matches with an aim on reclaiming the playoff position that slipped through their hands on Friday night. They will host Richmond Kickers (Wednesday, August 15) and Indy Eleven (Saturday, August 18) within the next eight days, with another six crucial points on the line.
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
On the match… “It was a difficult match against a tough team. I really don’t think the scoreboard shows accurately what happened on the field. We played very well. We had perhaps moments where we were unfocused but that was corrected for the second half and we created some chances. Unfortunately we were unable to score. Even after the penalty the team kept fighting until the end, so again they showed great character.”
On the short week ahead… “It was a difficult travel this week, with delays, so it was very difficult to recover fully. Once more the focus this week will have to be on recovery for these players the best as they can so we are 100% and ready for another tough match on Wednesday.”
On Daniel Kinumbe’s first professional match… “It was a nice surprise for everybody, he did well when he came on. I felt like in the training sessions he showed qualities that we can easily use in our model of play, and the boy came in very well, create one chance off the post and showed a lot of energy. He will be a player that can be very helpful and can help this team get better and better.”
Full stats report on USL Match Centre or download the Opta Stats Report (full)
Watch Match Highlights
Download Match Photos (Credit: Nashville SC / USL)
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3): Crépeau; Obasi, Meilleur-Giguère, Attakora, Edward; Dixon ©, Portilla, Oliviera; Haber (61’ Kinumbe), Dos Santos (61’ Haworth), Taylor (5’ Mannella)
Nashville SC (4-4-2): Pickens; Davis, Doyle, Woodberry, Washington; Moloto (79’ Akinyode), Jome (64’ Bourgeois), Reed, LaGrassa; Hume (70’ Mensah), Allen
31’ NSH – LaGrassa (Moloto)
58’ NSH – Allen (PK)
64’ NSH – LaGrassa
Next Match: Wednesday, August 15 v Richmond Kickers – 7:00 p.m. – TD Place (I Heart Soccer Week)