Match: Penn FC at Ottawa Fury FC
Date: Saturday, July 14th
Time: 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 1:00 p.m. Central, 11:00 a.m. Pacific, 6:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: TD Place Stadium (Ottawa, Ontario. Canada)
Refs: Canadian CSA
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Ottawa will look: When Ottawa came to City Island back in May, they picked up their first win of the season against Penn FC. That didn’t mean that they were a poor team, rather it appears that they were just some late bloomers for 2018. They’ve reeled off five more wins since then, including recent victories over Indy Eleven and New York Red Bulls II.
The Ottawa attack should be enhanced for this match as they recently acquired Canadian Daniel Haber on a free transfer from FC Cincinnati. He didn’t get a chance to produce much in Cincy, but he should jump to the top of the depth chart now that he’s back on his home turf. But don’t expect to see Sito Seoane with the Fury this time around. He’s no longer with the team and he’s now playing in the Icelandic Premier League.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC was riding high on a six match unbeaten streak, but they were brought down to Earth on Monday night when they fell to the Richmond Kickers. It looked like the hot weather and short rest was getting to the team, so they should be looking forward to the bye week after this match.
There’s multiple players for Penn FC who had suited up for Ottawa back in their NASL days, so they should be excited to get a chance to play against their former team once again. Romu Peiser and Tommy Heinemann missed out on facing them in Harrisburg, but there’s a good chance they’ll make appearances on Saturday afternoon.
But you won’t be seeing Dan Mezger in the lineup in Ottawa. He’s suspended after earning his fifth yellow card of the season against Richmond. It’s likely that Miguel Jaime gets the start in his place.
What to expect: Both of these teams sit at six wins with Penn FC a bit ahead of Ottawa in the standings because of picking up a few more draws early in the season. Each side is desperately looking for a win Saturday afternoon as they both try to pull themselves out of the log jam in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings.
Penn FC’s primary advantage over Ottawa is that they’ve done a better job of scoring so far this season, especially during their recent unbeaten stretch. Lucky Mkosana is on a five match scoring streak and he just finished second in the voting for USL player of the month for June. Look for much of the Penn FC offense to continue to run through Mkosana as he has proven to be the best finisher they have right now.
The job of the Penn FC defense on Saturday is to try and get physical with the Ottawa attackers. During the last match Ottawa was able to impose their will on the Penn FC defense and that allowed them to control the ball with too much ease in Penn FC’s half of the field. If the defense can assert themselves early on then it should help throw off the Ottawa game plan.
And there’s one man that everyone should keep their eyes on on Saturday and that’s Ottawa goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. He was able to completely shut down Penn FC the last time they played and he’s been on a tear ever since that match. But Penn FC has been getting off significantly more shots per match compared to when these teams met back in May, so they should be testing him early and often. Ottawa’s chances are going to be directly tied to Crepeau’s performance.
PREDICTION: Both these teams are looking to return to their winning ways, but they’re so evenly matched that I can’t say which will prevail on Saturday. I think the most likely outcome is a draw and the score I’m going with is 2-2.