Ottawa Fury FC host Bethlehem Steel tonight at 7 p.m. from TD Stadium in Canada’s capital city. Ottawa and Bethlehem are still pretty much strangers, this being their third overall meeting with Steel sharing the points at home before a Chris Nanco wonder strike gave them all three points in Ontario.
How Ottawa should look:
After rough losses early on, including being on the wrong side of 4-1, 5-0 and 3-1 results, Ottawa has settled in to a solid defensive side with some troubling possession stats. Setting up in a somewhat flat 4-3-3, Ottawa has a formidable backline with experienced Irishman Colin Falvey being the anchor holding everything together. Also frequently appearing are Montreal Impact loanees Maxime Crepeau and holder of my favorite USL name, Thomas Meilleur-Giguere. Offensively they have Carl Haworth, the stalwart of the club and free kick specialist as well as “guy who scored from midfield last year” and constant threat Steevan Dos Santos. What is concerning for the Fury is how little they seemingly value possession. While on the road I could see a counter attacking style almost be necessary, Ottawa can’t even get the ball half the time at home. Their home possession stats have been 32(!) 34(!) and 60 percent respectively. Against a team that passes more then anyone and has some very strong possession stats, Ottawa might run into a classic case of “you can’t score if you don’t have the ball”. They get a three game home stand starting tonight so maybe we’ll have a better idea of how they play at home after that block of matches.
How Steel should look:
After a huge week that saw Steel take all six points in big fixtures against Red Bull II and Indy XI, Bethlehem have a chance to wrap up a hectic week with all nine points. Steel made some history in those previous matches with Michee Ngalina becoming the youngest goal scorer in club history against Red Bull II and Prosper Chiluya becoming the first Zambian to score in the United States with his game-winning laser beam against Indy XI. Outside of those big performances, Fabian Herbers had a Team of the Week nod for his output (one goal and one assist) in the last two games. We’ve seen guys drop down from the first team, play really well for Steel and have that translate back to the Union (looking at you, Marcus Epps) in a way we haven’t seen before and that’s only good news for the organization. Santi Moar has shown no signs of a sophomore slump after his incredibly rookie season and Chris Nanco has burned his home Province in the past. Elsewhere, Derrick Jones has been living up to the hype in the midfield and Olivier Mbaizo has looke fluid at right back. Brandon Allen has moved on to Nashville, paving the way for Aidan Apodaca to really start showing why the Union brought him in. I expect him to get some good looks tonight, and hopefully make them count.
Bethlehem finally notched their first road win against Indy and through 10 games this is the best start in club history. Currently fifth in the standings is pretty much where everyone expected this club to wind up. While a draw against Ottawa would be acceptable, there’s no reason this side can’t go up north and put another big win on the board. I’ll wager Steel coming out on top of this one, 3-1.