Must win game for Ottawa Fury ends in 0-0 draw
Photo credit: Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography/Ottawa Fury FC
It has been some time since Ottawa Fury played a USL match in front of its home fans at TD Place. This past Sunday afternoon, Fury FC returned home in front of a crowd of 5,470 after five matches on the road to face a strong Bethlehem Steel FC team.
A win would have given Fury FC a great chance of making the playoffs, but the team in red and black could only come away with the 0-0 draw.
Fury FC thwarted by the woodwork
The score-line doesn’t tell the story of the match. After a long time away from their home crowd, the Fury players looked hungry and energetic. The front-three pressed high and the midfielders behind them patrolled the centre of the park with a focussed tenacity.
With suspensions to key players (Adonijah Reid, Nana Attakora and Kévin Oliveira) Head Coach Nikola Popovic needed to depend on his squad’s depth.
Azake Luboyera, who has only made a handful of appearances this season, started on the left side of the attacking front three and made an impact early.
He was bundled over by a Bethlehem Steel defender in the box and won a penalty in the fourth minute.
Ottawa’s joint leading scorer, Steevan Dos Santos stepped up to the spot but could only smash the ball off the left post.
That wasn’t the last time an Ottawa player would be thwarted by the post. Dos Santos, trying to make amends for his penalty miss, forced Bethlehem’s keeper Jake McGuire to tip the ball onto the post in the 22nd minute.
Then, five minutes later, Cristian Portilla hit a hard-driven shot that hit the bar.
The fourth and final time a Fury player hit the bar came in the 30th minute when David Edgar got on the end of a corner kick only to see his header strike the crossbar.
Fury continued to search for the opener in the second half, but, despite their best efforts, the goal never came.
On the other end, Steel FC struggled to find space to operate in Ottawa’s defensive end. Fury FC looked organized and fresh, unlike the match between the two teams in Pennsylvania back in August where Steel FC won 2-0.
That organization resulted in a 15th clean sheet of the season for Maxime Crépeau after he broke the USL single season clean sheet record on Wednesday against TFC II.
Despite the disappointing result, Popovic was extremely proud of the way his team played in the match and how far they have come since the beginning of the season.
“The way [the team] works. How they give everything. I think it is inspiring.
“It’s an inspiring story. You know how we started, where we came from not having a preseason…to be able to come to this moment and perform this way, I think it is a fantastic story.”
Fury FC’s playoff hopes in jeopardy
The draw means Fury FC need help from elsewhere and a win in its final game to make the playoffs.
The one positive is that Fury has the points on the board and the teams below them, despite having games in hand, still need to win to jump Fury FC in the standings.
Captain Carl Haworth believes his team can get over the mark with a similar performance in their final match.
“We are so close, and if we keep doing the same things that we did out there today, defensively and offensively, we can get a result in the last game of the season.”
Ottawa currently sits in seventh with 45 points, while there are four teams below them (North Carolina FC, Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay Rowdies), each with two games in hand.
Popovic and his players can only sit back and watch as their next game is on Saturday, Oct. 13 against Charleston Battery, while their playoff rivals will be playing in midweek and on the upcoming weekend.