Ottawa Fury FC midfielder Kevin Oliveira may have a key role to play if Fury FC is to overturn a first-leg deficit against Toronto FC in the 2018 Canadian Championship Semifinals on Wednesday night. | Photo courtesy Steve Kingsman / Freestyle Photography
OTTAWA – Ottawa Fury FC’s dramatic 2-0 victory against Nashville SC last Saturday night at TD Place moved the side from Canada’s capital into the playoff positions in the USL’s Eastern Conference, but on top of that it could have provided the jolt of confidence the side needs as it returns to action in the 2018 Canadian Championship on Wednesday night against Toronto FC.
Trailing by a goal after last week’s first leg at TD Place, Fury FC goes to BMO Field as underdogs to the defending Voyageurs Cup and MLS Cup holders but having had good spells of play against TFC in the first encounter between the clubs, Ottawa is looking to be aggressive as it looks to spring an upset on the road.
“We need to go there with a winning mentality,” said Fury FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. “We need to go there and be the aggressor. We’re down 1-0 and it’s a 90-minute game. It’ll be difficult, we know it, it’s not going to be easy, but if they came here and won 1-0 we can do the same thing.””
With victories in three of its past four league outings, Fury FC has started to play some of its best soccer of the season as it has moved into the second half of its regular-season slate. The late goals by Tony Taylor and Kevin Oliveira provided a visible jolt for the side which left it on a major high on Saturday night.
Now sitting with as many wins as losses in the league, the side is starting to see the fruits of its labor that began in preseason under new Head Coach Nikola Popovic.
“It’s all about trusting the process,” said Oliveira on Saturday. “We trust the process, we trust the coach, and we what we’re here for and what we have to do. And now we’re putting in all on the pitch, and that’s the important thing.”
Oliveira was arguably Fury FC’s biggest threat against Toronto last Wednesday night as he finished with two of the side’s three shots on goal. The Cape Verde international’s ability to deliver from set pieces could be key in the return leg with TFC, with Ottawa hoping to strike early to erase its first-leg deficit.
Another key player could be recent addition Daniel Haber, who came on as a second-half substitute against TFC before starting against Nashville this past Saturday. The Canadian international – who recorded seven goals and four assists a season ago for Real Monarchs SLC before arriving in Ottawa following a stint in Cincinnati earlier this season – has produced in big moments before, including a dramatic game-winner in the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs.
“I feel good,” said Haber. “I want to bring positive energy and an attacking presence to the team and help us win any way we can. I feel confident that I’m fitting in nicely so far.”
While claiming victory to advance to a final matchup against either Vancouver Whitecaps FC or the Montreal Impact is going to be the biggest challenge of the season so far, Fury FC is at least in a position to where it can enter BMO Field with the confidence of a side in form.
“We are getting better and better,” said Popovic on Saturday. “We have players coming back, like [Cristian] Portilla, that give us a little bit more time on the ball that we can use. And then the switch of the play, with players like Jimmy [Sanon], like [Adonijah] Reid, Carl [Haworth], Daniel now… all of these players have speed that we can use. But at the end of the day, we want to play too.”