A battle of the titans, this was not.
Entering Saturday’s match at TD Place Stadium, Ottawa Fury FC would have gladly taken a point off of Thomas Rongen’s second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies side. However as the whistle blew for full-time with the score nil-nil, the point earned for Ottawa was met with mixed emotions. Yes, Ottawa had just drawn one of the NASL’s best sides. But, it was a weakened Rowdies team, on an off day, and Ottawa had multiple chances to score. Tack on an obvious missed penalty call in the second half, and it really was a winnable match for Fury FC.
Fury FC Draws Rowdies in Slow Contest
“It’s a good point for us, and if somebody would have won today, it would have been the Ottawa Fury,” said Fury FC manager Marc Dos Santos postgame. “It’s an important point, it was important for us to end the losing streak…we created more chances and were the better team.”
The match was far from a classic at TD Place, as 3461 spirited fans took in a sloppy affair which saw the two sides combine for just four shots on target.
“For us, it was a pretty good result,” admitted Rowdies head coach Thomas Rongen, whose side was without attacking catalysts Georgi Hristov and Maicon Santos. “At the end of the day, they (Fury FC) probably deserved a little more, so a draw on the road is a good thing for us.”
Aside from Stefan Antonijevic’s obvious handling of the ball inside the Rowdies’ 18-yard box in the 79th minute, and the referee’s missed call on the play, very little transpired near either team’s goal over the course of ninety minutes. Tampa goalkeeper Matt Pickens was forced to come up with a strong parried save on a first half Sinisa Ubiparipovic free kick in what would ultimately be the closest chance of the match.
Both managers fielded less than full strength sides, as key players from both clubs missed out due to injury.
Tampa will return home to face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in a Coastal Cup rivalry match next weekend, while Ottawa heads into its bye week for the spring season.
Attendance Down from 2014
Saturday’s announced attendance of 3461 had to have been disappointing for the club. A match on a warm Saturday with a 3 p.m. kickoff time against one of the league’s top clubs should have drawn well into the four-thousands at least.
As it stands, Ottawa has averaged 3859 in its three home league matches. That figure is well below the 6501 the entire league was averaging through last weekend’s matches (source), and the club sits second-to-last in the league in attendance. The club’s average attendance is down from 4669 last season.
With two home matches remaining on the club’s spring season schedule, Fury FC will be hoping the warmer weather, along with the youth soccer pass program the club has started, will boost attendance for upcoming matches against Indy (Apr. 23rd) and Edmonton (Apr. 29th).