Matches: Penn FC vs Ottawa Fury FC
Penn FC at Toronto FC II
Dates: (Ottawa) Monday, May 7th
(Toronto) Wednesday, May 9th
Times: (Ottawa) 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. UTC
(Toronto) 11:00 a.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Central, 8:30 a.m. Pacific, 3:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)
BMO Field (Toronto, Ontario)
Refs: (Ottawa) REF: JAVIER SANTOS ESCOBAR AR1: BEN PILGRIM AR2: GJOVALIN BORI 4TH: BRANDON SMITH
(Toronto) Canadian CSA
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required) Youtube (International viewers only)
What to expect from Penn FC vs Ottawa Fury: Penn FC should still be riding high from their victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies Friday night. Not only did they get their first win of the season, they managed to find the offensive spark that they’ve been missing so far in 2018. The three goals during that match brought their season total all the way up to five.
The best way for Penn FC to keep that momentum going is to welcome a team like Ottawa Fury FC to town. Ottawa has also had significant offensive struggles in 2018 and they’ve only managed to score twice so far this season. But they’ve had issues on defense as well. They’ve allowed fourteen goals in six matches, which is the most in the Eastern Conference.
But, much like Penn FC, Ottawa has shown improvement in their play as the season goes on. During last Wednesday’s match against NYRB II, the Fury managed to shut down the impressive attack of the baby bulls on the way to a 0-0 draw. They also took the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to the limit back in April before allowing one late goal. And with talented players like Sito Seoane and Cristian Protilla on their roster, Penn FC shouldn’t take them lightly.
Playing on short rest, and with another match set to come on Wednesday, expect Penn FC to rotate the roster plenty. Sean Lewis could get the start in goal against Ottawa, much like he did against Nashville a few weeks ago. You should also see players like Tiago Calvano, Ken Tribbett, and Lucky Mkosana working in after they didn’t start last Friday. Tommy Heinemann may get the start against his former team after scoring twice against the Rowdies (another of his former teams) or he might be on the bench and saved for Wednesday’s match instead.
One thing for Penn FC to try to improve during the match is their decision making. They had several additional opportunities to score against Tampa Bay, but the players tended to overthink things inside the box and they made one too many passes/touches before attempting a shot. If they loosen up a little and pull the trigger on some more shots, they could see more scoring.
What to expect from Penn FC at Toronto FC II: Penn FC will be wrapping up with Ottawa Fury FC at around 9pm Eastern time on Monday night and just thirty-eight hours later they’ll be taking the pitch again up in Toronto. That’s easily their shortest rest window of the season, and it appears to be the shortest scheduled rest for any USL team in 2018. On the plus side, after this match they will be off until May 26th.
Toronto has many of the same struggles as their Canadian brethren in Ottawa. They also sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table with two points. They’re only ahead of Ottawa based on goal differential. Oddly enough, both of the Canadian teams earned their points off of draws with the same two teams, North Carolina FC and NYRB II. Toronto hasn’t allowed quite as many goals as Ottawa, but they’ve only scored three times so far this season, including a stoppage time goal in their 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Just like with Monday’s match, Penn FC will be needing significant roster rotation in Toronto. Most, if not all, of Monday’s starters could be out of the starting lineup for the Toronto match. So there may be some new faces for Penn FC during this match. Several players who have only seen limited minutes like Aaron Dennis, Saaliah Muhammad, Prince Baffoe, and Jorge Rivera will probably be called into action for one or both of these matches.
Because they’ll be fighting fatigue as well as the Young Reds, Penn FC will want to pull out all the stops to get ahead as early as possible. They don’t want to have to battle through another 0-0 draw, and if they fall behind early it won’t be easy to summon the energy for a big comeback. So they may want to play risky early in the hopes of finding a lead that they can sit back and protect for the rest of the match.
PREDICTIONS: Penn FC may be tired Monday night, but they should have enough squad rotation and home field momentum to get the win. I predict it’ll be a 2-0 scoreline for that one.
The trip to Toronto will be trickier because it’s such a short time frame. I think they’re the favorites, but a dead-legs draw on Wednesday morning isn’t out of the question. Ultimately, I think they’ll prevail 2-1.