Date: Wednesday, September 27th
Time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, PA)
How Ottawa will look: Ottawa’s situation is currently up for debate. On the one hand, they are in the middle of a five match unbeaten streak, which is nice. Unfortunately, they are also winless over the last eight matches. That’s much less nice.
Ottawa’s last win was against Charlotte, but that was all the way back on August 12th. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Fury parted ways with their previous manager, Paul Daglish, after that match. Their interim manager (Julian de Guzman) has done a fine job as a caretaker, but he’s certainly carrying a chip on his shoulder as he continues to look for his first win.
Unfortunately for de Guzman, Ottawa has struggled mightily on the road in 2017. They’ve only managed two wins away from home this season, and the last time they won on the road was at NYRB II all the way back in May.
How Harrisburg will look: The City Islanders are unbeaten over their last three matches, which wouldn’t be much to brag about under the usual circumstances. However, that is tied for their longest unbeaten stretch in 2017 (they were unbeaten over three matches three other times earlier in the season). So that’s a little added incentive to play hard against Ottawa. In addition, Harrisburg currently has 31 points from 29 matches in 2017, which matches their total points from 30 matches in 2016. So despite all of their struggles this season, they will have improved over last year if they can take points on Wednesday night.
Harrisburg comes into the match with the unusual luxury of some extra rest compared to their opponents. But don’t expect any major overhauls to their recent starting XIs. That 3-4-3 formation (which usually plays more like a 3-4-2-1) has brought life to the City Islanders offense, so expect to see them stick to that.
What to expect: These teams currently sit at 12th and 13th in the Eastern conference, so both sides come into this match knowing that a win is needed to keep their (admittedly quite slim) playoff hopes alive. But this has been the case for Ottawa for weeks, and they still haven’t been able to put teams away. Harrisburg actually comes into Wednesday’s match with more momentum than the former NASL side after beating Saint Louis and Toronto and coming within five seconds of beating FC Cincinnati.
Harrisburg had to settle for a draw against Cincy because of a late equalizer and they’ll need to be on the lookout for one of those against Ottawa as well, since that has been their specialty lately. The Fury have managed five consecutive draws, and they have scored second half equalizers in four of those matches. So even if the City Islanders manage to get a lead at home, they’ll need to fight like crazy to protect it.
Ottawa’s Sito Seoane scored the lone goal the last time these two teams met, but he has been on a bit of a dry spell lately. Instead it’s Steevan Dos Santos who has been the primary scorer for the Fury, picking up five goals in their last seven matches. On the Harrisburg side of the ball, Ropapa Mensah has been making a big impression as the lone striker. He picked up a brace againt Toronto, and he has plenty of support in the midfield thanks to players like Mo Dabo and Pedro Ribeiro getting healthy again. Plus, if Harrisburg needs some offensive help late, Aaron Wheeler is healthy and ready to play again.
PREDICTION: FNB Field has been a challenge for visiting teams all season and Harrisburg has been playing much better compared to the last time these two teams met. I predict Harrisburg reverses the result from June and gets the 1-0 win.