Match: Ottawa Fury FC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders
Date: Saturday, June 10th
Time: 7:00 PM Eastern
Venue: TD Place Stadium (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Refs: Not Available
How Ottawa will look: Ottawa is coming off of a very physical match-up last Sunday against Bethlehem Steel. That match ended up a draw, thanks in large part to some amazing saves by goalkeeper Callum Irving. However, their offensive impact was reduced due to Lance Rozeboom sitting out of the match at the last second with a knee injury and Steevan Dos Santos being kept out as well. But now that Ottawa has been eliminated from the Canadian Cup, both of these players could be available against Harrisburg.
How Harrisburg will look: The City Islanders had last weekend off, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Significant contributors Aaron Wheeler, Cardel Benbow, Jonny Mendoza, and Manolo Sanchez were all banged up. Having some of them available will make for a more dangerous starting XI for Harrisburg.
That being said, Harrisburg also has a big Open Cup contest looming against the Philadelphia Union next Wednesday. It’s possible they may choose to sit a few players in Ottawa in order to keep them fresh for that match instead. If that ends up being the case, then you can expect to see a few of Harrisburg’s younger players getting some minutes in their place.
What to expect: For two teams that are meeting for the first time, both sides certainly find themselves in similar situations. Each side has been frustrated by several close losses, and they’ve had to settle for draws when a win was within their grasp. Consequently, they both sit on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
Ottawa’s preferred method of winning lately is a classic: they score a whole bunch. They combined for a total of nine goals during their last two wins, most of which came in the second half. So if the Fury set the tempo of the match, there’s a good chance that things will descend into a shootout, and Ottawa would hold the advantage under those circumstances.
However, Harrisburg has shown that they can hold their own and keep matches tight by shutting things down in the midfield. This allows them more control over the pace of the match, and it also keeps the number of quality chances to the opposing teams to a minimum. But this doesn’t always give them a lot of opportunities to score, and one blown play could spell disaster for their chances.
PREDICTION: So what’s most likely to win out? Home field advantage, or extra rest advantage? Both of these teams have under-performed this year, but I don’t think that either team is likely to use this as a big breakout game. I’m predicting a 2-2 draw for the final score.