It all comes down to this.
They haven’t made it easy for themselves, but in the last weekend of USL regular season play, Ottawa Fury FC are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. First, they’ll need to secure a win against Charleston Battery this Saturday, 2pm at TD Place. Should they get all three points, they’ll then need some extra help to see playoff action for the first time since 2015.
How They Get In
Ottawa currently sits in 9th place in the East and need a win to move into a playoff spot. If they lose or tie on Saturday, they’re done.
If they win, they’ll be scoreboard watching. In particular, they’ll be watching how Nashville SC does against FC Cincinnati (Saturday @ 8:30pm) and then possibly Bethlehem Steel FC against Tampa Bay Rowdies (Sunday @ 3pm). Here are the scenarios in which Ottawa can be playoff-bound:
- Ottawa win, Nashville loss (Ottawa finishes in 8th place)
- Ottawa win, Nashville win or tie AND Bethlehem loss or tie (Ottawa finishes in 8th place)
- Ottawa win, Nashville loss, Bethlehem loss (Ottawa finishes in 7th place)
Ottawa will be missing some key players for Saturdays match. David Edgar is off with the Canadian national team, and Jimmy-Shammar Sanon is away representing Haiti, while Nana Attakora and Kevin Oliveira are serving suspensions (both are in the final game of three-game suspensions).
With Edgar and Attakora out, that leaves Thomas Meilleur-Giguère as the lone dedicated centre-back for Saturdays game. Meilleur-Giguère sees the game not only as a chance to push the team into the playoffs, but also as an opportunity for the club to make a statement about soccer in Canada.
“I feel excited about it. The team with the most Canadian players, no one was expecting anything from us,” he said. “Now we can make something special, we can make the playoffs with this game. I feel very proud to be on this team. I love my country. We can prove everybody wrong. That you can have a team of mostly Canadian players. I feel seriously proud about this.”
“That you can have a team of mostly Canadian players. I feel seriously proud about this.”
As for having a clear opportunity to show what he’s got as a leader on the pitch in a pivotal game, Thomas isn’t shy.
“I love it. I love the pressure, that’s why I play soccer. I’m a young player, but I like to be the boss on the field,” he said. “When I have that chance, I’m going to play like the boss, and show the other team that even though we’re down [a few key players], everyone on this team is ready to fight and we’re going to give them a good challenge.”
Meilleur-Giguère’s game has improved substantially over the course of the season, and he’s gone from being an occasional substitute to locking in as a starter. While he notes several players have helped guide him along the way this year, he credits Canadian international Doneil Henry, who was in Ottawa on a short loan from Vancouver Whitecaps early in the season, with having a particularly strong impact on him.
“He really helped me. That’s when everything started. At the start of the season, I wasn’t really playing. When he came, I had the chance to play left-back, and he really helped keep me focus and keep the right mindset. I would like to thank him for sure, because he was great to me.”
The USL released their 2018 Top 20 Under 20 list, featuring the leagues most promising young players, and Ottawa’s Adonijah Reid came in at #8 in their rankings.
This accolade isn’t surprising, given the 19 year-old’s play this season. Adonijah has scored four times this season, and has caused trouble for opposing defences all year, showing massive potential for the future. He will likely see time in Major League Soccer in the near future.
“He continues to add very good value to the club which allows him to grow in the right direction,” said Fury GM Julian de Guzman. “More obstacles will come his way, knowing he has qualities to make a jump to the bigger leagues, and it’s up to him to improve on his weaknesses and perfect his strengths.”
Mood for food
TD Place announced they will be introducing lower prices (in some cases, significantly lower prices. Hello, $3 popcorn…) for the 2019 Fury FC season, but fans on Saturday will get a preview of those new price-points. Saturday will also be fan appreciation day, and will mark First Responder Appreciation Week, which allows any First Responder to receive up to four free tickets by presenting a valid ID at the TD Place Box Office.
Ottawa Fury FC’s regular season finale sees them take on Charleston Battery at TD Place on Saturday October 13. Kickoff is at 2pm. Tickets are available online or at the TD Place box office.