It wasn’t the prettiest of matches by any stretch, but Ottawa Fury FC got the job done, again. Fury FC outplayed the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks en route to a 2-1 victory in a rare NASL mid-week match, extending their unbeaten streak to nine games in the process. Both teams traded penalties after Fury winger Carl Haworth’s well-taken 56th minute goal, and the momentous nature of the night was far from lost on Ottawa manager Marc Dos Santos.
“For the club, this is big,” said the Luso-Canadian manager, whose side moved two points clear of FC Edmonton the top of the NASL’s fall table with the victory. “We were just remembering the first year of tryouts, when some players were good and others weren’t that good, but we’ve built something so competitive and respected in the league.”
The victory extends Ottawa’s unbeaten streak to a league-high nine games, and the club’s three-game winning streak is the longest in its two-year history.
“We knew going into this game that it would be difficult to break them down, because they played with three centerbacks, and sometimes five across the back,” admitted Dos Santos. “But it’s not about myself or the players, tonight is about the club.”
The two teams stifled one another in a first half in which neither side looked to have even a remote possibility of scoring. Some tactical changes at halftime produced a slightly more open game in the second half, and Ottawa struck first thanks to some nifty footwork in the area from Carl Haworth.
Two other Ottawa players should be heralded for their efforts on Haworth’s first goal of the 2015 campaign. Leftback Mason Trafford put in a fantastic ball, and target man Tom Heinemann, though he didn’t continue his 3-game scoring streak on Wednesday night, flicked the ball on to Haworth perfectly.
Junior Burgos drew Atlanta level six minutes later, equalizing from the penalty spot after Ottawa midfield Mauro Eustaquio bumped into a Silverback.
Ottawa captain Richie Ryan, fresh off an NASL Team-of-the-Week nomination, then restored the Fury lead in the 72nd minute, slotting home from the spot after a clumsy Silverback hand ball during an 18-yard box scramble.
“I don’t think it was a penalty against us, and I don’t think it was a penalty for us,” stated manager Dos Santos after the match, “but overall we were the better team and we deserved three points.”
Ottawa will now have to refocus for the high-flying Carolina RailHawks on Sunday. Carolina’s visit to TD Place in the nation’s capital will be Ottawa’s third match in seven days, and the winner of Sunday’s tilt could very well go top of the NASL combined table.
“Tomorrow, we’ll reassess a lot of things, see how guys have recovered, and Friday and Saturday we’ll start working for Carolina – an extremely difficult team to play,” explained Dos Santos.