Ottawa Fury FC growing in confidence in 2-0 win over Atlanta United

Photo credit: Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography/Ottawa Fury FC

The mood was positive around Lansdowne Park and inside TD Place this past Saturday afternoon with the annual Canadian Tulip Festival underway and Ottawa Fury FC looking to build on their first win of the season the previous Monday against Penn FC.

The positivity continued onto the field as Fury FC got its first home victory of the season and second victory in a row. With two goals in the first-half, Fury FC came away 2-0 victors over Atlanta United 2.

Confidence with and without the ball

In Fury FC’s second victory of the season, they also pick up their third consecutive clean sheet. The introduction of Doneil Henry at centre-back has made Fury FC much more assured in defence. The solidity he brings alongside Colin Falvey allows players ahead of them to play more adventurously.

The headlines will go to Henry because of his profile coming from the Vancouver Whitecaps, but Jamar Dixon, who like Henry entered the starting eleven three games ago, should also get credit for Fury FC’s new found defensive stability with his presence in midfield.

Atlanta United 2 possessed the majority of the ball, over 65%, but created few clear opportunities to worry Maxime Crépeau in Fury FC’s net. 

With less possession, Fury FC had to make the most of the counter-attack and did so on several occasions through Adonijah Reid. As usual, Reid was at the centre of the attacking action for the home team creating an opportunity for Carl Haworth in the 14th minute. Reid was also central to both Fury FC goals: in the 26th minute he beat his defender and cut the ball back in front of goal for Steevan Dos Santos to put away and in 35th minute he drew the foul that led to Haworth’s freekick goal.

It is important to note, Haworth’s goal from a free-kick was one that even the best goalkeepers around the world would struggle to save.

After scoring the two goals, Fury FC looked confident and capable of scoring more even with less possession. As the saying goes, success breeds confidence and the Fury FC players, coaches and fans should be feeling confident after the 2-0 victory of Atlanta United 2 on Saturday.

Popovic not ready to go overboard

Despite the positive result, Head Coach Nikola Popovic wasn’t completely satisfied with the overall performance. He has reiterated throughout the season that he and General Manager Julian de Guzman are trying to build a culture with specific ideas regarding playing style.

“It’s perhaps not [our] best performance. I know that [the media] love the stats and the scoreboard.

“But, I think we have to play a little bit better.

“We have to improve the way [we] possess the ball, the zones where [we] possess the ball and how [we] unbalance the opponent.”

In the culture building process, it is also important for Popovic to impart a belief in his ideas onto his players, which the players reciprocate by showing dedication and heart on the pitch. There is evidence of that belief from today’s performance.

“I am very proud of [my players]. The way they fought during the 95 minutes.

“It was fantastic to watch them fight and believe until the end. As you know, we are trying to create a culture here, and one of the core values is this belief and this positive attitude.”

Going forward

Popovic chose the same starting lineup as the one that started against Penn FC. Going forward, it looks like players like Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, Henry, Dixon and Dos Santos, recent inclusions in the starting eleven, will continue to be given playing time.

Dos Santos was Fury FC’s leading goal scorer last season and Popovic is happy with what he is seeing from the Cape Verdean centre-forward.

“Not only in this game but last game too, his performances are getting better. He is understanding what we want.”

With the win, Fury FC has eight points and sits 14th in the Eastern Conference standings ahead of Atlanta United 2 and TFC II.

Fury FC will go on the road to play 2nd place Charleston Battery next Saturday, May 19th at 7:00 PM before enjoying three games at home.