Ottawa Fury frustrated by Penn FC in 2-0 loss

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

Ottawa Fury FC took part in the Capital Pride celebrations during its match against Penn FC this past Saturday evening. In Fury FC’s annual Pride Game, the players on the pitch sported special jerseys with rainbow coloured numbers.

In a pursuit to make the USL playoffs in October, Fury FC need to continue to accumulate points, especially in seemingly winnable games. Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to Penn FC was a missed opportunity to put some distance between them and the teams below them in the Eastern Conference Standings.

Just not Ottawa Fury’s day

TD Place is usually a fortress Fury FC can trust will bring them success, but this past weekend Popovic’s team looked frustrated and out of sync in front of a healthy crowd of 5,270. The players looked tired from the busy match schedule as players missed first-touches, passes and were continually second to the ball.

After a positive opening from the team in red, Penn FC began to junk-up the game with persistent fouling and Fury FC responded in kind. Six of Penn FC’s 18 fouls, in addition to a few that were missed by referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere, occurred in the first 20 minutes setting an impetus for the rest of the game.

The first goal is often the most important, especially for Fury FC who are 9-0-0 in games when they score the first goal. It was only moments before the end of the first-half when former Ottawa Fury player Paulo Junior struck from approximately 25-yards to beat Maxime Crépeau in the first minute of injury time. It was a frustrating blow, especially right before the end of the half.

After the half-time break, Fury FC piled on the pressure creating three shooting opportunities that were blocked by a Penn FC defender in the first eight minutes of the second-half. Penn FC, off the back of the first goal, sat back while Fury FC had to push forward to look for the equalizer.

Aaron Dennis in the 80th minute all but sealed the win for Penn FC when Nana Attakora miss-controlled a high ball at the halfway line. Isaac Osae was able to latch onto the loose ball and find Dennis at the top of the box. Dennis finished the counter-attack with a swift shot that looped over Crépeau and into the back of the net.

Nikola Popovic returned to a shape and a group of players that gave Fury FC success earlier in the season with a midfield of Cristian Portilla, Jamar Dixon and Kévin Oliveira and a front-three of Carl Haworth, Adonijah Reid and Steevan Dos Santos.

The team didn’t respond as he would have liked but going forward it will be interesting to see what Popovic does to get his team out of its current rut.

Still, despite the poor performance and disappointing result, a number of Ottawa Fury players stayed out on the pitch after the game to sign autographs and take pictures with fans as usual.

Ottawa Fury playoff hopes hang in the balance

Despite the loss, Fury FC remains in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games left to go.

Several other matches took place on Saturday night as well with playoff implications. Crucially for Ottawa Fury, Nashville SC (9th) lost to Bethlehem Steel FC and New York Red Bulls II (7th) drew 4-4 with Charleston Battery, but North Carolina FC (10th) put themselves in the playoff picture with a win over Charlotte Independence (12th).

Because of the games in hand, the chasing Nashville and North Carolina have maximum points totals by the end of the season of 65 and 61 respectively, while Ottawa Fury’s has a maximum of 56. With the win, even Penn FC in 11th-place has a higher possible points total (59) upstarting their pursuit for the playoffs.

With increasing pressure coming from the three chasing teams, Ottawa Fury has to focus on getting as many points as possible and jumping teams currently above them in the standings. Red Bulls II only has one game fewer played than Fury FC and only two points more. Ottawa Fury’s position is extremely precarious, and their best bet is to jump up to at least 7th-place.

Ottawa Fury will have an opportunity to do so in its next match on Friday, August 31, at 7:00 PM against Red Bulls II at MSU Soccer Park.