The North American Soccer League’s two hottest teams are set to renew pleasantries on Wednesday evening in Canada’s capital, as Ottawa Fury FC looks to close the gap with the New York Cosmos atop the NASL’s combined standings.
Marc Dos Santos’s Fury side will be playing its first match in eleven days, while New York will be playing its second match in five days. Fury FC’s last match saw them fall to a last-gasp free kick in a 2-1 injury time defeat against Minnesota United FC., while the Cosmos come to Ottawa hot off a blistering 3-1 road victory in Cary, N.C., against the RailHawks.
The teams’ midweek match could have massive repercussions at the top of the NASL table. A New York win would see the Cosmos pull to within one point of Ottawa in the fall table, and extend their own lead atop the overall standings to an insurmountable eight points. An Ottawa win, meanwhile, would solidify Fury FC’s claim for first place in the fall table, and move Dos Santos’s team to within two points of New York in the overall table.
While all eyes will be on Cosmos striker and Spanish legend Raul in the Cosmos’ white and green colours, it’s Zimbabwean striker Lucky Mkosana who could create the most problems for Ottawa’s backline. The pacy 27 year-old has caused problems for Ottawa in the past, both earlier this season when he scored the lone goal in the Cosmos’ 1-nil victory in the spring season meeting between the two clubs and in 2014 with Tampa. He has the kind of speed and makes the kind of diagonal runs which can cause problems for the very best of defensive lines at this level.
From a Fury FC standpoint, Wednesday’s game represents the chance to make a statement. While Dos Santos’s side has no doubt been excellent to this point in its fall campaign, a win in this marquee match would go a long way towards convincing the rest of the NASL beyond any doubt that Ottawa is a serious contender. As the OneWorldSports featured game of the week, Fury FC will likely be playing in front of its largest television audience of the season (barring an NASL finals appearance, which isn’t out of the question).
Two players to keep an eye on in Fury uniforms on Wednesday are Andrew Wiedeman and Oliver. The former has finally found his scoring touch (three goals in his last two appearances) after a dismal start, while the latter has seen an initially-promising North American career derailed by injury after injury. With plenty of competition for minutes up front, Wiedeman will be aiming to solidify his place in Ottawa’s XI, while Oliver will just be looking to recapture some of his red-hot 2014 form which originally garnered MLS interest. Wednesday night’s game under the bright lights at TD Place could not only go a long way towards stabilizing both attackers’ roles with the club, but also attract interest from larger clubs. It will be interesting to see whether one of either, both, or neither will step up with the spotlight on them against the Cosmos.
Prediction: I’m rubbish at these, but by god, I’ll give one. After an initial Andrew Wiedeman first half opening goal, Raul will come off the bench in the final ten minutes to steal a point for the Cosmos. 1-1 final.
Photo courtesy NASL.com