We knew it would happen eventually, we just didn’t want it to happen at home. Statistically, it’s not possible for a team to keep a winning streak going forever but with the skill that the Ottawa Fury have been showing lately, it wasn’t hard to imagine anything but a win at home against Minnesota United on Saturday night.
The organization announced a sell out, and with just shy of 7000 tickets sold the lower south side stands, which are available for Fury games, were packed. The field level bowl of the south side was completely sold out and the second level box seats were also filled to capacity. But the upper level was left untouched. With the people being turned away at the door, expect the club to open up new areas for seating for future games.
Regardless, a crowd of 6 899 is the largest the Ottawa Fury have seen for a regular season game besides the grand opening of TD Place last season. And this is directly related to the product on the pitch. The Fury had been undefeated in the previous 12 games and was looking to extend that streak to 13 to tie a modern day NASL record. But 13 would prove to be unlucky for the squad.
The Fury were anticipating a tough game against Minnesota, as they sit 4th in the fall standings and have a history of getting the better of the Ottawa side. They lined up as usual with Romuald Peiser in goal and Ryan Richter, Rafael Alves, Colin Falvey, and Mason Trafford defending. In the midfield it was Mauro Eustaquio who got the start after his first league goal last Saturday against Indy Eleven. He teamed up alongside Richie Ryan and Sinisa Ubiparipovic. Andrew Wiedeman, who netted two in last week’s game, started as a forward along with Oliver and Tommy Heinemann. They were up against the likes of the ever dangerous Christian Ramirez who remains one of the league’s top scorers with 8 on the season, and talented defenders Kevin Venegas and Tiago Calvano.
Minnesota United showed their strength early on in the first half as Christian Ramirez was able to take the ball off of Fury defender Rafael Alves and continue his scoring streak in the 17th minute. Both teams shared equal possession through the first half and had the opportunity to test both keepers but the score remained 1-0 for the visitors.
In the second half, the Ottawa side showed a bit more energy out of the gate and looked to have scored when Tommy Heinemann had a run in with United keeper Mitch Hildebrandt and a lose ball rolled past him. But the goal was called back as Heinemann was given a foul on the play. It was forward Andrew Wiedeman who finally found an equalizer for the home side as he put the ball past Hildebrandt in the 75th minute. And that’s how it looked like the score would remain until stoppage time in the second half when Minnesota was awarded a controversial free kick just outside the box. Forward Daniel Mendes stepped up to take it and curled the ball expertly past Peiser to secure the win for United.
The result was a bit hard to take for coach Marc Dos Santos and the squad who felt as if they were equal to the task. “It’s a little disappointing that the ref had a direct influence at the end.” But he was quick to point out the team’s strengths throughout the 90 minutes, “I think we were better than Minnesota overall. Our second half was very good. We spent a lot of time in their half and we reacted well. We tied the game [but] at the end of the day we lost. And what I told the guys is to keep their heads high.” Ultimately the post season is about points accumulation and the Fury are still on track to secure a playoff spot and are focused on that goal. “We need points to make the playoffs and that’s what we have to think about.”
Goal scorer Andrew Wiedeman could not hide his disappointment at the final result but knows the team must remain steady to prepare for their next game against the New York Cosmos. “It was tough. I haven’t seen the replay but initially I feel that it was not even close to being a foul. But the ref made the call and we have to adjust. There were definitely some positives but we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them. [Now] we have some time to rest up and get some bodies healthy and prepare for New York so it’s going to be a tough battle.”
The Fury are going into a bye week as they prepare to take on the New York Cosmos, who now sit in first place of the combined table, at TD Place on Wednesday August 26.