It wouldn’t be the first time Fury FC defeat an MLS club at TD Place. Ottawa’s victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in last year’s semi-final was a highlight for the club.
It’s going to be a busy Tuesday night for Ottawa sports fans. Just before the Sens crucial Game 6 being played against Pittsburgh down at the Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa Fury FC will be take to the pitch at TD Place for one of the biggest games in club history, when they host Toronto FC in the first leg of their Canadian Championship semi-final matchup.
Fury FC punched their ticket to the semi-final when, on May 10, Ottawa finished off NASL side FC Edmonton with a 3-2 win (4-2 on aggregate).
This will be the first time Fury FC and Toronto FC have ever met in a competitive match. TFC won last year’s Canadian Championship, and came within a shootout goal of winning the 2016 MLS Cup. Today they’re sitting in first place in the MLS standings.
The game presents what is perhaps the club’s biggest challenge in their short history – however midfielder Ryan Williams says the team isn’t feeling daunted by the task at hand.
“Regardless of the occasion, it’s important, as players, that we don’t get carried away… Once you step over that white line and onto the field, you’ve got to keep it in your mind that it’s just another game. That’s got to be your mentality, because if you start making special preparations for it, I’ve seen it before, teams become a little bit overwhelmed by the occasion.
“We only know how to play one way, and that’s aggressive soccer.”
“Obviously with Ottawa Fury, that’s not what we’re shooting for. We’re going into this game with a normal mindset. To go in, press the opposition, play good football and get a win.”
Goals have been oddly hard to come by at TD Place so far this season – Fury FC have scored only once at home in four games. Odd because it hasn’t been an issue away from home. The team has scored 12 goals in six away games.
Ottawa’s drought isn’t due to lack of opportunities, but Paul Dalglish’s side will need to attack and, more importantly, finish goals on Tuesday if they want to give themselves a shot at moving on to the Canadian Championship finals for the first time in club history.
Coming off a 4-3 win on Saturday afternoon against New York Red Bulls II – while opposition Toronto FC is actually coming off a 1-1 draw against the NY Red Bulls first team in MLS – Williams is convinced his team will perform for the fans.
“We only know how to play one way, and that’s aggressive soccer. I’m sure for fans who may never have seen us play before, when they come to TD Place on Tuesday, I’m sure that’s what they’ll see.”
One player fans in Ottawa were excited to see is MLS star and Golden Boot winner Sebastian Giovinco. Though fortunately for Fury FC, he’s suffering from a quad strain and will be out for likely both legs of the semi-final. Even with Giovinco (and defender Nick Hagglund) out with injuries, Toronto FC has plenty of star power, with players like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Canadian internationals Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts, all of whom are expected to dress for Tuesdays game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jozy Altidore (Toronto): The 27 year old American international – who has played in England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga – is on an absolute tear, tallying six goals and four assists on the year. He has powered TFC to a 7W-5D-1L start, and to the top of the MLS standings.
Callum Irving (Ottawa): Irving suffered what can only be described as a brain-fart in Ottawa’s last Canadian Championship outing, in Edmonton, which resulted in an easy goal for the Eddies. Mind you that goal was the only reason the match was kept interesting for the neutral in the crowd, as Ottawa appeared to be clear winners of the 2-game series. Irving is normally very strong in net, but there won’t be any room for silly errors against TFC. He’ll likely be tested early and often by a Toronto side that’s expected to play many of their starters (unlike Vancouver last year, who underestimated Ottawa in the first leg of that series). Irving will need to be Ottawa’s best player.
THE HOCKEY-SOCCER CONUNDRUM
Want to see the Fury and the Sens? Well, the semi-final soccer game kicks off at 7pm, and should be done before 9. The Sens and Penguins don’t play until after 8pm. So following the Fury game, maybe head over to a pub near Lansdowne Park and enjoy a few soda pops for the last two periods of the Sens game? Might want to plan to be late to work on Wednesday.
Ottawa Fury FC kickoff against Toronto FC at TD Place this Tuesday, May 23 at 7pm. Tickets cost $21–31 and are available online and at the TD Place Box Office.
Win tickets: Email <email@example.com> with “Voyageurs Cup” in the subject line before midnight on Monday, May 22. One lucky winner will win four tickets to the game. Winner will be notified by email following a random draw at noon on Tuesday, May 23.