Toronto FC a cut above Ottawa Fury in the Canadian Championship

Photo credit: Paul Giamou / Toronto FC

Ottawa Fury visited BMO Field to play Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship semi-final second leg. After a 1-0 loss in the first leg at TD Place, Fury FC had to go into the game with the ambition to score on Wednesday night.

The MLS team is the best team Ottawa Fury will face all year and did well to challenge TFC in the first leg at home but to go away to Toronto and win would have been a historic accomplishment for nation’s capital club. In the end, Fury FC struggled to make a mark on the game losing 3-0 and 5-0 on aggregate.

End of the road for Fury FC in the Canadian Championship

On BMO Field’s wide pitch, in the humidity after the teams third game in eight days, Fury FC looked tired, and understandably so. Head Coach Nikola Popovic is not afforded the luxury that his opposite number Greg Vanney is afforded with the ability to rotate his starting eleven.

Kévin Oliveira has played every minute of soccer this season, while others like Eddie Edward and Jamar Dixon have only missed a handful of matches.

Toronto FC controlled the match with its ability to keep possession and fresh legs, not giving Fury FC a sniff the entire night.

TFC knocked on the door a couple of time before making the breakthrough in the 36th minute from an Ayo Akinola goal. The challenge became even more difficult after the first goal went in as Fury FC needed two goals to advance.

The second goal came from two Canadian players combining. Ashton Morgan found space down the left and played a low cross into the box which found Jordan Hamilton for an easy tap-in past Maxime Crépeau in the 76th minute.

It was all but over when Jonathan Osorio, “[TFC’s] premier Canadian player” according to Vanney, scored the third goal of the night and his twelfth goal of the season in all competitions in the 84th minute.  

The Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Montreal Impact 2-1 on aggregate after winning 2-0 in its second leg match in Vancouver in the other semi-final. This will be the sixth time Toronto FC and the Whitecaps face each other in the finals of the Canadian Championship.

The two-legged final will be played on August 8 in Vancouver and August 15 in Toronto.

USL playoffs still to play for

Ottawa Fury and Head Coach Nikola Popovic will have to change gears for the rest of the season and now focus on the USL playoff race. Popovic stated previously that he would prioritize the Canadian Championship because of the opportunity to play MLS teams and compete in the CONCACAF Champions League. Now that that dream is over, Fury FC has to run through a full fifteen match schedule for the rest of the season ending in October.

The players on Wednesday night looked noticeably tired after its third match in eight days and have a fourth coming up in three days against Louisville City on Saturday.

Now that Popovic has a settled starting lineup and has conveyed his ideas to his team, Popovic must manage his players and the schedule not to overexert his players before the season is over.

The recent signings of Daniel Haber and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, who made his first start for Fury FC against TFC, will help to give Popovic more options to rotate his squad.

To win the Canadian Championship would have been a historic accomplishment, but a task too far, especially at this stage of Popovic’s tenure. However, a berth in the USL playoffs is something very attainable for Popovic and Fury FC as they currently sit eighth in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

What’s next?

There is still a lot of season to go, but now with one competition to focus on Fury FC has an opportunity to push on starting on Saturday, July 28, at 2:00 PM at TD Place when they play the reigning USL Champions Louisville City.