Match: Penn FC at Ottawa Fury FC
Date: Saturday, August 25th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: TD Place Stadium (Ottawa, Ontario. Canada)
Refs: Canadian CSA
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Ottawa will look: Ottawa has already topped Penn FC twice this season and they’ve managed to work their way into a playoff position over the last month. It looks like TD Place has become a fortress for them as they’ve beaten Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Richmond there in the last month or so. Their form on the road hasn’t been as good, so it’s essential that they take all three points on Saturday.
Ottawa’s MVP continues to be goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. He has only conceded one goal to Penn FC in 180 minutes of play this season, and you can expect him to continue to be especially stingy while on Canadian soil. He’s gotten four out of five possible clean sheets at home since Penn FC last visited. The only squad to get any past him was Louisville City FC.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC has been counting down the days until they can return home to City Island. Their current stretch of road games, which started with July’s trip to Ottawa, has been rough. They’ve only taken one point in the last five away matches and they’re dangerously close to dropping out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Penn FC was missing a few faces last week and it’s unclear if they had injury concerns or if Raoul Voss was just trying to mix up the lineup. Dan Metzger, Ken Tribbett, and Calvin Rezende were all absent from the eighteen against Richmond. Do they get the start on Saturday? Another starting option is a man that Ottawa fans will surely be familiar with, Tommy Heinemann. He was subbed in against Cincy and Richmond, so his match fitness should be coming back after two months off.
What to expect: So since this is the third meeting for these teams, will the results be the same? Ottawa is just as good as they were the last time these teams met and they’re probably even better. Penn FC, meanwhile, has been repeatedly frustrated by failing to get the results they need as the season winds down.
So how does Penn FC break out of their funk? They’ll need to break up the narrative that has unfolded in most of their recent matches. Namely they allow a team to get the lead on them and that team just parks the bus to preserve the lead. Penn FC hasn’t had the skill and finesse to make teams pay when they do this, and that’s what costs them. That why each of their last five losses have been by a single goal.
So to try and break out of this cycle, Penn FC needs to try and control possession and also push numbers forward with consistency. I’ve lost count of how many times in the last few matches Penn FC has crossed an open ball in front of the goal only to find that there’s no one there to tap it home. If they can get a few more players to get a step or two ahead, those crosses start turning into goals.
The fate of Penn FC on Saturday night is going to be tied to the performance of their top three strikers, Lucky Mkosana, Isaac Osae, and Tommy Heinemann. Penn FC’s best run of play came when Lucky was really clicking with his midfielders and bagging plenty of goals. this has fallen off over the last month or two as opponents have adopted to his style and covered him up. If that’s the case on Saturday, then it’ll be up to Tommy or Isaac to get the goals that’ll throw Ottawa off their game.
PREDICTION: These teams have kept it close twice, but it’s hard to pick against Ottawa at home. Maybe Penn FC finally breaks out in a big way, but I think this’ll end up as a 1-0 win for the Fury.