North Carolina goal­keeper stones Fury with key saves

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS -

On what will go down as a mem­o­rable day for soc­cer in North Amer­ica, the Ot­tawa Fury had one of those days they would just as soon for­get.

The lowly, 14th-place North Carolina FC stunned the Fury with a quick goal in the third minute of play, then built a lead to 3-0 on their way to a re­sound­ing 4-2 win over the Fury Wed­nes­day night in Cary, NC., in the United Soc­cer League.

The loss was the sec­ond in a row for the Fury in June af­ter go­ing un­de­feated in six games in May as the Fury blew a chance to climb the East­ern Con­fer­ence ta­ble into a po­ten­tial play­off spot. They re­main stuck at four wins through 13 games.

More dis­turb­ing was that the four goals against was more than the Fury had al­lowed in their pre­vi­ous nine games com­bined and the sec­ond time all sea­son they have given up four in a game. The to­tal they gave up also fell just one short of the sea­son-high five goals the Tampa Bay Rowdies scored on Ot­tawa back on April 7.

The Fury have lit­tle time to dwell on the re­sult in the midst of their busiest time of the sea­son.

The club moves on to At­lanta Thurs­day for a Satur­day night matchup with United FC 2 be­fore rac­ing back to Ot­tawa to pre­pare for the first leg of the Cana­dian Cham­pi­onship, be­gin­ning Wed­nes­day night in Blainville, Que. Blainville topped Oakville 1-0 Wed­nes­day night in Oakville to win the ag­gre­gate 3-1.

Then it’s right back on the road June 24 in New York be­fore fi­nally get­ting back to TD Place for the sec­ond leg on June 27.

That one game amounts to their only home date in five weeks with more time on the road June 30 in Cincin­nati and July 4 in In­di­anapo­lis.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to North Carolina, the team that won,” said Fury head coach Nikola Popovic, who ear­lier in the day was named USL coach of the month for May on the strength of a four win, two-draw pe­riod for 14 of a pos­si­ble 18 points. “But we have to an­a­lyze a bit bet­ter the game. If you look only at the score­board, it was 4-2. But I think the score­board doesn’t cor­re­spond to what hap­pened in the game.

“I think we had enough chances to get out of here with one point or with three points. How­ever, some­times in foot­ball this kind of sit­u­a­tion oc­curs, and who scores more goals ends up win­ning.

“We did enough to score at least five or six goals. But we have to be bet­ter fo­cused, par­tic­u­larly on the first goal we con­ceded on the set play. That is our re­spon­si­bil­ity. We have to be bet­ter.”

And maybe North Carolina is bet­ter than their record of three wins in 11 games go­ing into the Ot­tawa con­test would in­di­cate.

The North Carolini­ans struck with their first goal on a cor­ner kick by star Kyle Bekker that Con­nor Tobin mas­ter­fully headed past Maxime Cre­peau.

The Fury didn’t roll over, how­ever, and held a wide ad­van­tage through the next 20 min­utes with nu­mer­ous chances to tie, or even take the lead.

The dif­fer­ence was Alexan­dros Tabakis in the North Carolina goal as he thwarted at least three scor­ing chances. That al­lowed the home side to keep plug­ging away and Daniel Rios made in 2-0 in the 30th minute be­fore Mario Lomis de­flected a long feed in front of Cre­peau in the 43rd minute to seem­ingly put it out of reach.

The Fury did an­swer back in a hurry, though, with Kevin Oliveira scor­ing off a steal by Onua Obasi in in­jury time to end the first half.

The dag­ger came in the 57th minute when Steven Miller re­stored the three-goal lead on a missed clear­ance at­tempt.

An own goal by North Carolina’s D.J. Tay­lor only made the fi­nal goal more re­spectable.

DON CAMPBELL

NORTH CAROLINA 4, FURY FC 2

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