Ottawa Fury lose late to Charlotte Independence 1-0

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

Ottawa Fury FC ended its home stretch with a 1-0 loss to Charlotte Independence this past Saturday night in front of 5,693 fans at TD Place. Ottawa Fury entered the game off an unbeaten run of six games (three wins and three draws). The loss is a slight blemish to what has been a positive run of games where the team allowed one goals and scored seven.

Disappointing end to three game home-stand

Saturday’s match against Charlotte Independence was Fury FC’s third home game in nine days. The two previous games, against Bethlehem Steel FC and Toronto FC II, ended in wins for the Ottawa team and punctuated a stellar unbeaten month of May which moved four spots up the USL Eastern Conference standings.

After early pressure from Charlotte Independence, Fury FC was able to get a foothold into the game and, despite conceding more possession, was able to create the better quality chances. Chris Mannella intercepted a ball in the Independence half and was able to force opposing goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra into a tough save in the 19thminute. Carl Haworth, who has been unlucky in front of goal as of late, needled his way into the box and flashed a shot low towards the bottom left corner past Dykstra in the 35thminute, but Je-Vaughn Watson was able to clear the ball off the line.

Ottawa Fury continued to concede possession in the second-half in what was a deliberate ploy by Nikola Popovicand his team and still created the lion share of goal scoring opportunities.

“I think it was a very even match. I think we had the best chances to score. They had more [possession] but it was strategic from our part.”

It was Fury FC’s solidity in defence and power in midfield, in particular from Jamar Dixon, that allowed Fury FC to control the pace of the game.

On the balance of the entire match, Fury FC had 32% of possession but had 14 total shots with four on target to Charlotte Independence’s seven total shots with one on target.

Charlotte Independence is a team full of experience with players who have played in World Cups (Lee Jung-Soo), in the English Premier League (Kay Voser) and in over 100 MLS games (Cordell Cato, Je-Vaugh Watson). An experienced team like Independence only need one chance and they capitalized in the 83rdminute.

Independence’s substitution of Éamon Zayed in the 81stminute changed the game. His well-timed runs in behind Ottawa Fury’s backline caused problems for Nana Attakora andThomas Meilleur-Giguère. For the goal, Zayed broke Fury FC’s offside trap and received the ball on the left side of Fury FC’s penalty-area and crossed the ball into the danger area. Mannella missed the first opportunity to clear the ball then Ekra was able to beat Kévin Oliveria to the ball at the top of the penalty-area. Ekra got fortunate as his shot deflected off Onua Obasi and looped over Maxime Crépeau to end his clean sheet run at 623 minutes.

The goal came just moments after referee Carol Anne Chenard missed a pass back by Lee in the 77thminute that was picked up by Dykstra. Chenard should have awarded an indirect free-kick in Independence’s penalty-area but Chenard allowed play to continue despite the strong protestations of Fury FC players and coaches.

Popovic did feel Chenard made a mistake on the play but feels that it should not be an excuse for the way the game ended.

“I think it’s a clear back pass.

“It’s a mistake but I never speak about the referee because we make mistakes, the players make mistakes, so the referees can make mistakes too. We cannot find excuses in the referee. We did not lose the game because of that.”

Fury FC appreciating fan support

Fury FC is enjoying a steady growth in local fan support as the season continues to progress. In the last three home games, the crowds at TD Place have steadily increased: 2,781 against North Carolina FC, 3,219 against TFC II and 5,692 against Charlotte Independence this past Saturday night.

The turnout on Saturday night is Fury FC’s third largest of the season behind the School Day Match (8,084) and season home-opener (6,137).

Ottawa Fury’s local supporters group, Bytown Boys Supporters Club, was responsible for the raucous atmosphere with singing and chanting and a little good-natured heckling as they cheered on Fury FC for the entire 90 minutes.

Popovic has been extremely happy with the support his team has been receiving as he said before the match, “[The fans] have been fantastic in the support they have been giving us since the beginning of the season, when it was rough for everybody” and continued to praise the fans after the match.

“[The fans] today came and supported the team until the end and I think we are starting to have a very good atmosphere here at [TD Place].”

A sweet end to Fury FC’s three-game home stretch, Fury FC players gathered at the centre circle to applaud the crowd at the end of the match to show their appreciation for the support.

Next four games on the road

The players and coaches will enjoy a breather as Fury FC are on a bye this upcoming week after a congested schedule. That means Fury FC will be in action again on June 13 against North Carolina FC at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The subsequent three games will also be played on the road against Atlanta United 2, New York Red Bulls II and either AS Blainville or the Oakville Blue Devils in the first-leg of Fury FC’s 2018 Canadian Championship qualifier.