Wednesday’s domestic cup match presents a unique challenge for Ottawa Fury FC, one that the club has not yet faced in 2015: speed, all over the pitch.
That is the x-factor that FC Edmonton will bring to the midweek cup fixture tomorrow at TD Place Stadium. While Ottawa has certainly had a positive start to its spring campaign, with four points of a possible nine to start its season, it hasn’t faced teams with the kind of game-breaking speed and athleticism that the Eddies possess.
With the likes of Sainey Nyassi and Lance Laing on either flank, Eddies boss Colin Miller is sticking to his tried-and-true method of fielding athletes. Eddie Edward and Kareem Moses offer similar displays of athleticism on the flanks of FCE’s back four, and can pose offensive threats occasionally.
When Fury FC and FCE met in the first round of last season’s Amway Canadian Championship, everybody highlighted a strong second leg at home as the key to the Eddies’ victory. Of equal importance, however, was their ability to draw the first leg in Ottawa. Miller was visibly ecstatic after the 0-0 result in last year’s first leg, and will likely be looking to do the same thing tactics-wise on Wednesday.
Expect FCE to play defensively, but use the flanks heavily on counters. Young Hanson Boakai may slot into an Eddies lineup he has yet to truly crack in 2015. The 18 year-old’s slicing runs and quick feet gave Ottawa nightmares in last year’s Canadian Championship fixtures.
Things are certainly trending in the right direction in Edmonton; Sainey Nyassi picked up NASL Player-of-the-Week honours this past weekend, and the Eddies rallied to defeat the visiting Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 3-2. English midfielder Ritchie Jones has two goals in three games, and appears to have settled into the game on this side of the pond.
From a Fury FC perspective, this year’s edition of the Amway Canadian Championship represents a shot at not only redemption from last season’s first round exit, but a chance to earn the respect of potential MLS opponents. FC Edmonton managed to put a scare into the Montreal Impact in last year’s second round, and Marc Dos Santos’ side will be hoping to do the same if they can advance past the Eddies.
Romuald Peiser will likely carry the captain’s armband again on Wednesday, as skipper Richie Ryan was ruled out for at least the next three weeks by Dos Santos with a leg injury. Julian De Guzman will likely run the ship from the midfield as he did superbly on Saturday in the club’s 1-0 win over Minnesota.
All things considered, the odds are surely in Ottawa’s favour for Wednesday’s fixture; the club has grown substantially more than FCE in the year since the two last played, Fury FC are at home, and crucially, are on an extra day of rest. However, I would be foolish to bet against a Colin Miller side on the road, on what is shaping up to be a rainy, sloppy affair in front of a small crowd due to the Ottawa Senators NHL playoff game.
In England there is a saying which asks, “But can they do it on a rainy night at Stoke?”
In NASL circles, however, it should say, “But can they break down a Colin Miller team defending for its life on the road?”
Everything about this fixture is telling me that Fury FC will pound the Eddies and all but solidify a place in the second round. Then I remember Colin Miller’s 4-1-4-1, or deep-lying 4-4-2, and realize what a monumental task breaking down FCE’s defence may prove to be.
Prediction: 0-0 draw
Photo courtesy of Ottawa Fury FC.