Ottawa Fury continue to struggle on the road in 2-0 loss to Bethlehem Steel

Ottawa Fury FC made the trek down to Pennsylvania to play Bethlehem Steel FC in an important USL Eastern Conference match-up.

After a poor first-half, where Fury FC conceded two goals, Nikola Popovic looked to change things making all three of his available substitutions before the hour mark. Fury FC looked better in the second-half, but all of the team’s endeavour materialized into nothing as the match ended in a 2-0 loss.

Road woes continue

Ottawa has struggled on the road all season and it was more of the same on Wednesday. Nikola Popovic rolled out a 3-5-2 for the second match in a row, but this time Fury FC was exposed by Steel FC’s star player Santi Moar.

Moar struck first in the 16th minute from a quick counter-attack after Fury FC’s gave the ball away in midfield. As Moar approach the Fury FC goal, Maxime Crépeau rushed towards Moar to close the angle, but Moar was clever enough to chip the ball over Crépeau and into the net.

The second goal was from the penalty spot after Thomas Meilleur-Giguère handled the ball in the penalty area. It was unfortunate, as the ball came from a short distance away, but Meilleur-Giguère’s hand was in an unnatural position giving referee Jon Freeman the right to award the penalty. Moar dispatched the penalty into the back of the net a minute later in the 32nd minute.

At half-time, Popovic made two substitutions and changed his team’s formation to a 4-3-3. The changes made Fury FC more dangerous and allowed them to press Steel FC higher up the field. As a result, they were able to muster a couple opportunities in the second-half; in particular, in the 68th minute when David Edgar got on the end of a Cristian Portilla free-kick—the attempt was saved. Later, Fury FC came close in the 88th minute when Meilleur-Giguère scrambled the ball past the opposing goalkeeper but not past Joshua Yaro, who cleared the ball off the goal line.

After the poor first-half, it was always going to be a difficult task for Popovic’s team to overturn the early deficit.

USL Eastern Conference playoff picture

Ottawa Fury is on the edge of the USL Eastern Conference playoff spots in eighth with 35 points under pressure from Nashville SC in ninth with the same points total but with three games fewer played. North Carolina FC sits in tenth with 31 points and two fewer games played than Ottawa Fury.

With games in hand, either Nashville or North Carolina FC can jump Fury FC in the standings, even if Fury FC win out. Even currently in eighth, Fury FC is not the favourite to make the playoffs in October.

Still, there are a handful of winnable games upcoming for Ottawa Fury, including its next match versus 13th-place Penn FC at TD Place on Saturday, August 25, at 7:00 PM.