Ottawa Fury FC: 10W-9D-4L, 8th in Eastern Conference
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: 12W-8D-4L, 6th in Eastern Conference
As Ottawa Fury FC continues their fight for a playoff spot, and potentially host a playoff game for the first time since 2015, they’ll have a few extra friends in the stands cheering them on.
When Ottawa takes on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC this Friday night at TD Place, the entire Ottawa 67’s roster is in town and will be cheering on the Fury from the Log Cabin area, and Fury FC will don special 67’s inspired kits as part of the ‘Barber Pole Bash’ promotion. Using promo code 67SFURY, fans can get a ticket to see the Fury on Friday, as well as a ticket to the 67’s OHL home opener on September 29th, all for just $30.
Friday’s match is the second of two meetings this season between Ottawa and Pittsburgh. Their last contest on June 8 ended in a 2-2 draw, however Ottawa was fortunate to come away with anything, having come back from a 2-0 deficit which also saw Callum Irving stop a last minute penalty shot to preserve the point. With Pittsburgh currently ahead in the standings, Friday’s game is effectively a must-win for the Fury if they want to host a playoff match.
Fury FC is coming off a 2-1 win last Saturday at home against Saint Louis FC. In a game where Ottawa captain Carl Haworth was honoured for having played 150 games for the Fury, the captain quickly opened the scoring with a stunning free kick in the 10th minute, his second free kick goal in two games. Haworth has now scored four times this season off free kicks, and eight times total to lead the team in goals.
— Ottawa Fury FC (@OttawaFuryFC) August 24, 2019
The first half was one of Ottawa’s strongest of the season, with recent signing Hadji Barry putting the home side up 2-0 before halftime and Fury FC dominating in nearly every aspect of the game. After Saint Louis went down to 10 men, early in the second half, Ottawa was guilty of some sloppy play; allowing the visitors to make a game of it before all three points were secured for the Fury.
At Left Back
All season long, Ottawa’s weak link has been defence on the left side. Against strong USL sides (as well as Halifax Wanderers FC and Toronto FC in Voyageurs Cup action) that left side has been the main point of attack for opposition, and the better teams have capitalized.
When Maxim Tissot was ready to return from a devastating knee injury, there was some question where Maxim, who usually plays at midfield, would line up on a team stacked in the middle. For the last few games, however, he’s been starting in that left back position and seems to have quickly grown in confidence there. With a similar ability to Haworth (in defence on the right side) to move the ball forward quickly, he may start finding similar offensive success, while providing an upgrade for the team defensively where it has badly needed it.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 1-0 win over Loudoun United FC on August 23rd in which former Fury FC striker Steevan Dos Santos scored the lone goal, converting a deft leading pass from forward Neco Brett. Brett is the Riverhounds leading scorer this season with eight goals, and led the team in 2018 with 15 goals. Brett and Dos Santos have developed into a formidable duo which Ottawa’s defence cannot afford to give any space.
Pittsburgh is on a hot streak, having won six of their last seven games, propelled by multiples goals from Brett and Dos Santos (three each during that stretch) and midfielders Robbie Mertz and Anthony Velarde (two goals each).
Fury Player to Watch: Hadji Barry
It’s hard not to focus on Captain Carl, who in my opinion has turned into easily a Top 10 player in the USL since moving to right back, but the future of this season may hinge on the success of striker Hadji Barry. The 26-year old Guinean was signed in late July, essentially replacing the injured striker Mour Samb.
After a 2018 season in which Ottawa’s offence was anemic, the big question mark heading into 2019 was where the goals would come from. Off-season drama restricted Fury FC’s ability to sign a proven striker, but it was trialist Mour Samb who emerged as Ottawa’s top offensive threat in the first half of the season, scoring 7 goals in 14 games.
— Ottawa Fury FC (@OttawaFuryFC) August 24, 2019
When Ottawa’s offence was going, Samb was the key. Not only did he bury his own chances, but when teams started recognizing him as a threat, he drew attention away from his teammates, allowing them to establish a “goal-scoring by committee” mentality. The Fury have five players with at least five goals so far this season.
With Samb now injured, presumably for the rest of the regular season, Barry needs to fill the void left by Samb. Fury FC’s offence started to sputter as the team struggled to adapt to Samb’s absence. Barry is a proven goal-scorer in the USL, and his quality has been obvious since joining the team. Barry’s goal against Saint Louis, a very Samb-like finish just outside the 6-yard box, was exactly what Ottawa needed to see. If Barry continues to get more comfortable with his role on this Fury squad, depositing a few more goals while drawing attention to himself, Ottawa could be an extremely dangerous team with the USL playoffs on the horizon.
Prediction: 2-1 Ottawa win
Friday is the first-ever @OttawaFuryFC Caribbean Night hosted by The Cultural Arts Studio! Nothing like the beautiful game while enjoying the flavours, sights and sounds of the Islands.
— apt613 (@apt613) August 29, 2019
Ottawa Fury FC kicks off the Barber Pole Bash game against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at TD Place this Friday, August 30th at 7pm. The game is also the final Patio Party game of the season. Tickets are available online and at the TD Place Box Office.