With no chance of either team making the NASL Championship, today’s match between Ottawa Fury FC and Puerto Rico FC should have featured no strenuous play, just good solid speed & skill-based footy. Played in Ottawa on drizzle dampened turf, Ottawa wore their red kit while the Puerto Rican’s donned light grey. The match started at a relaxed pace, with both teams feeling each other out for most of the first 10′.
The matched opened up in the 15′ when Gentile passed into the box and Williams tapped it gently past the keeper into the net. The goal seemed to mark a sea-change in play style, with Fury dominating the possession in the following 6 minutes. Gentile set up another potential goal in the 19′ with a cross for Haworth, but the Puerto Rican keeper managed an important save.
In the 21′, Timbo committed a foul on a Puerto Rico midfielder that sent Timbo to the ground. Although some stretching seemed to help, he went down again less than a minute later, and the team’s medic had to help him limp off the field. Timbo would be replaced by Obasi in a very early sub for the Fury. Timbo’s injury would haunt Ottawa well through the 26′, when Puerto Rico drew the game to a tie as a result of a wide-open shot by Culbertson. Between the goal and the injury, the Fury would spend much of the next 6′ playing catch-up with Puerto Rico FC. At 33′, a free kick from Tissot would fly well over the bar, but the Fury still didn’t look particularly competitive until the 36′ with a series of close plays that would end with a Williams free kick. Sadly, Fury would not find a tiebreaker at this point.
The remainder of the half would have some great passing displays by either side, but nothing dangerous materialized until the 46′. A shot off the boot of Mendez beat Peiser, only to bounce harmlessly off the top-right post. With play bouncing back to the Fury, a couple more runs would end the half without making a difference for either side.
The second half started slowly, with Fury playing on defense for most of the first 8′. In the 54′, Fury would have their first real rush of the second half, with a great passing build-up leading to a shot by Rozeboom that sailed just high of the net. A controversial non-call from the ref in the 60′ would see Ottawa robbed of a possible PK. With Dixon taking a boot to the gut while playing the ball, a call was almost certain. Since Dixon made the shot, which missed, the ref allowed them to play on. Only 2 minutes later, Haworth would bungle a play that turned the ball over to PR, who stepped on the ball and promptly fell down, allowing Ottawa to recover.
In the 71′, a red card for Dawson of Puerto Rico was handed out as a result of a severely hard tackle from behind on Williams. Ottawa would not capitalize on their man advantage as Puerto Rico would take the lead in the 77′ with an unmarked Rivera taking a free kick from 30 feet out that would easily beat Peiser and find the back of the net.
Ottawa’s next real chance to tie things would not come until a shot from Rozeboom in the 82′ would fly over the Puerto Rican net. A couple more attempts would be deterred without finding the keeper or the net over the next several minutes. The Puerto Rican keeper would take a warning for delay of game, and nothing would materialize through the 90′. With 5′ of injury time, the crowd would be treated to a close Williams shot, a dangerous Roberts header, Peiser staying forward for over 1′ of play, an offside Rozeboom header over the net, and a poor Gentile header at the keeper. All this struggle would see no change to the score, and Puerto Rico would defeat Ottawa Fury.
With a 2-1 result for Puerto Rico FC, and the 2nd goal coming with Fury at a man advantage, the team and coach desperately need to look at their play. The team played well, but as has become usual for the Fury throughout 2016, they didn’t play well enough. Are the players not quite good enough for the NASL? Should the coach, Dalglish, consider a new line of work? Will Fury play in the NASL next year, or is this kind of a preview for their USL-play? We don’t have the answers, but we know that something desperately needs to change. There’s only a few matches left in 2016, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of a fire-sale the Fury endure over the off-season, if they endure it at all.