FC Edmonton, Ottawa Fury play to scoreless draw in Amway Canadian Championship
Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 09:15 pm
OTTAWA - Call it the best-case scenario for the Ottawa Fury FC.
The young franchise played to a 0-0 draw Wednesday night against FC Edmonton at Keith Harris Stadium in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship.
Considering this was just the third game in franchise history for the Fury, head coach Marc Dos Santos was pleased with the draw.
"This is four times 45 minutes and now we're at halftime of the game," said Dos Santos of the series. "If you asked me what would be the best score after leg one I would tell you I want to win 5-0. But the reality is, if you do tie, at least tie 0-0 at home."
The two teams, who compete in the North American Soccer League, will meet next Wednesday in Edmonton for the final game of the home-and-home series.
The winner, the team that scores the greater aggregate of goals over the two matches, will secure the fourth semi-final place and join the three Canadian MLS clubs, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps in the next round.
Should the two teams end in a draw next week the Fury would earn the tiebreaker as visiting goals are more valuable.
However, if next week's game is scoreless the two would play extra time and then go to penalty kicks to determine a winner.
"We control our own destiny now," said Edmonton's Ritchie Jones. "We're pretty good at home and teams usually don't like to play us at home."
The Fury gave Edmonton all it could handle and while he gave full marks to Ottawa for its performance, Edmonton head coach Colin Miller believes his team should win next week.
"With the greatest respect to Ottawa we are the favourites," said Miller. "We're a five year franchise now and they're a new franchise. We're at home and we're very difficult to beat at home. I think if we play the way we're playing now I think we'll be a match for anyone in the NESL. It's in our hands."
Both teams had good chances in the early going of the second half, but both goalkeepers seemed up to the challenge.
Ottawa 'keeper Devala Gorrick made the save of the night in injury time on Sadi Jalali as Edmonton broke through for a wide-open chance.
"That's one of those shots I train for everyday," said Gorrick. "Luckily I stayed focused because it was cold and I didn't have to do throughout the second half, but I saw the balls and then things slowed down for me and my training kicked in and I was able to stay big and get a body behind it."
Minutes earlier, Edmonton failed to take advantage of a direct kick as Richie Ryan made a great defensive play to block the kick.
"It was important for us to keep a clean sheet," said Ryan. "It was more for confidence as we're confident that we can go and score next week in Edmonton."
Ritchie Jones had a good chance at the 51st minute, but Gorrick made an easy save to keep the game scoreless.
Mason Trafford had the crowd on its feet as he made an acrobatic kick from in close, but John Smits stretched out for the save.
The game got physical at times and Dos Santos said he expects much the same next week in Edmonton.
"It's going to be a war," said the Ottawa coach. "I don't think we'll be welcome there."
While Miller felt the game was physical, he by no means thought it was ugly. He says his team prides itself on playing a hard-nosed style.
"I didn't think it was over the top physical," said Miller. "I thought it was two teams committed to winning the game. It's the heat of the moment and there's an awful lot to play for the clubs."
The game remained scoreless after the first half.
The Fury, playing without four of its starters due to injury, had the better chances early in the half, but failed to beat Smits.
Ottawa's Philippe Davies nearly scored off a header at the seventh minute, but Smits was able to get a hand on it and tip it wide.
Davies once again had a great chance at the 26th-minute mark, but watched in disappointment as his shot went just over the crossbar.
"The first 25 minutes we came in very well and created opportunities, but for the last 15 minutes of the first half Edmonton was better," Dos Santos said. "In the second half we had a lot of problems in the beginning, especially in the first 25 minutes. After that we began to grow and it became an open game. We created situations, they created situations and our goalkeeper made a fantastic save at the end and it would have been unfair if Edmonton would have scored."
Cool temperatures and a brisk wind seemed to have little effect on the play or the crowd of 2,411 who were boisterous in their support of the home team.
Edmonton grew stronger as the game went on and had a number of good chances late in the opening half, but Gorrick was solid for the Fury.
"This was by far the best game we've played," said Gorrick. "We showed a lot of composure, especially in the first half, and overall I think we're getting better."
The Amway, which features the country's five professional clubs, is moving into its seventh edition, with the winner representing Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Notes: The Fury were without Tom Heinemann (high ankle sprain, 4-6 weeks), Nicki Paterson (knee, day-to-day), Sinisa Ubiparipovic (knee, day-to-day), Omar Jarun (eye, day-to-day). Edmonton lost D Lance Laing midway through the second half and isn't expected to play next week at this point.