Home NASL & USL Ottawa Fury Fury edges Blainville by a very familiar 1-0 scoreline

Fury edges Blainville by a very familiar 1-0 scoreline

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It was if the Soccer Gods deemed that, on Wednesday, that all matches played on the planet had to be linked thematically. Overwhelming favourite vs. unfancied underdog. And, in every case, David’s dogged effort was close, but not close enough. In the end, all of the upstarts lost 1-0, but had at least have the moral victories of not being blown out.

(For the record, moral victories suck.)

We saw that in all three World Cup matches today. Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Iran all fell by that scoreline to favourites who were expected to win by more.

And, on Wednesday night, AS Blainville, representing Quebec’s semipro division-three league, fell by that same 1-0 score at home to the USL’s Ottawa Fury in the first leg of their Canadian Championship preliminary round series. 

The Fury will say “heck, we won the first leg, got a road goal, didn’t give up one” and be confident that it will handle things at home for  the second leg; Blainville can say “heck, we fell asleep right at the start of the game, but didn’t give up anything after that.”

You could argue that we should all expect that a USL side, playing in the second-highest tier of  North American pro soccer, would  beat a Div-3 club by a greater margin than an MLS side would be favoured to beat a Div-2 team.  You could argue that, on paper, the gulf between MLS and USL isn’t as great as the gulf between USL and Quebec semipro.

So, when Tony Taylor dashed down the left wing and saw his poor-angle shot go right through Blainville keeper  Erwann Ofouya, you would be forgiven for thinking “oh, boy, this is the first of many.” (Remember, it was Ofouya’s fumble of a cross that led to Oakville’s only goal of the qualifying series against Blainville.)

But, instead of opening the floodgates, that was it for the night.

And, unlike Iran or Saudi Arabia or Morocco, Blainville actually had some real chances to equalize (sure, Iran had one ruled out after an offside ruling was confirmed by VAR. But it was offside. It was the right call. So, no crocodile tears). Fury keeper Maxime Crepeau had to make a great save in each half.

With five minutes left in the first, Blainville’s Nazim Belguendouz launched a free kick into a sea of blue shirts in the Ottawa penalty area. Crepeau dove towards the far post after the ball was directed towards goal.

And, in the 57th, Crepeau rose to direct a free kick that deflected off his own defender. He had to adjust to the shot’s last-second change in direction, and he showed why he was named USL’s Player of the Month for May.

“I think it’s a difficult game,” said Fury coach Nikola Popovic. “We played against a team who is very good. They have good players, perhaps players who didn’t get the opportunity to show themselves on bigger stages, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have quality. We faced today a very good team, organized. It was a very difficult game for us. We are happy with the 1-0 result. The game didn’t tip over and it tells us that we will have to be very focused when coming in to play the second game because we expect it to be difficult.”

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