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Ottawa's Kevin Oliveira pops off a left-footed shot. Photo: Chris Cowger.

Match Preview: Fury FC put streak on the line against Memphis—06.15.19

By Josh Lemoine on June 14, 2019

Ottawa Fury FC: 6W-4D-2L, 7th in Eastern Conference

Memphis 901 FC: 2W-4D-7L, 15th in Eastern Conference

So far, so good.

Twelve games into the 2019 campaign, Ottawa Fury FC is enjoying their best start in club history. Having only lost twice this season, Ottawa is riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (4 wins, 3 draws). They have often looked dominant, with coach Nikola Popovic finally getting the attractive possession style of play that he has been looking to get out of his squad since arriving in Ottawa at the start of 2018.

Even when the team has looked off, they’ve managed to salvage points. Last Saturday night in Pittsburgh saw the Fury come back from two goals down to tie the match, and then goalkeeper Callum Irving made a massive save off a penalty kick in extra time to preserve the draw. The team has been finding ways to bank points.

Mour ‘The Revelation’ Samb

Ottawa has scored 19 times so far this year, which puts them on pace for a 54-goal season. That pace puts them easily in the top third of the league for offensive production—a far cry from 2018 when they scored the second fewest goals in the USL Championship Eastern Conference.

Before this season began, goal-scoring was by far Ottawa’s greatest concern and the team had failed to sign a proven striker to help solve that issue.

Forward Mour Samb. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fury FC.

Enter: Mour Samb.

The 6-foot tall Sengalese forward Samb was an unheralded off-season signing. Previously a trialist with the team, who appeared in the 2018 CapCity Cup exhibition game against Montreal Impact, Samb has exploded for six goals already this season, becoming the go-to threat Ottawa has been desperate for.

Opposing teams have noticed the threat Samb poses, which has been drawing attention away from his teammates, giving more space to players like Christiano François and Kevin Oliveira to create chances. Samb’s emergence has completely altered the look of Ottawa’s offence, giving the squad perhaps the most balanced attack the franchise has ever had.

The Opponent: Memphis 901 FC

Expansion side Memphis comes to Ottawa sitting 15th in the USL Championship Eastern Conference. They are coming off a 3-0 loss to fourth place Indy Eleven last Saturday, and have only scored 12 times this season (second fewest in the league).

Trivia (because you were wondering, admit it): The ‘901’ in Memphis’ name refers to their area code.

Keys to the Game

Memphis does have some offensive threats that ‘613 FC’ will need to watch out for. Forward Jochen Graf has not scored in USL play this season, but did recently score twice in a U.S. Open Cup (the American version of the Voyageurs Cup) match against Hartford, and had an 11 goal season in 2017 with Rochester Rhinos. Elliott Collier has scored twice this season, and is Memphis’ most offensive-minded player with 23 shots this season. Ottawa’s defence will need to be mindful of Graf and Collier and make sure they don’t get any space with the ball.

Ottawa’s defensive left side is currently its weak link, with opposing teams attacking defenders Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé and Onua Obasi, both of whom have struggled lately in that position. Those players will need to step up their play, or the Fury are going to need to find another way to shore up that side to reduce the number of chances being given up from the left.

Fury FC midfielder Wal Fall lunges for the ball. Photo: Chris Cowger.

Fury Player to Watch: Wal Fall

One of Ottawa’s more highly-touted off-season signings, Fall’s confidence has been growing with each game and has become a more active part of the Ottawa attack. Fall is second on the team with 4 goals on the year so far, with 3 of those goals scored in the last 4 games. The lanky German midfielder has developed some chemistry with fellow midfielder Charlie Ward, and has adopted a role as the fourth attacker, usually behind Oliveira, Samb and François. Expect Fall to look dangerous again against Memphis.

Prediction: 2-0 Fury win.

Prior to the match, TD Place will be hosting a watch party for the Canadian national team’s match against New Zealand at the Women’s World Cup. That game will start at 3pm and will be shown on the stadiums big screen.

Ottawa Fury FC takes on Memphis 901 FC at TD Place this Saturday, June 15. Kickoff is at 7pm. Tickets are available online and at the TD Place Box Office.