North Carolina goalkeeper stones Fury with key saves
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.
NORTH CAROLINA 4, FURY FC 2