Match Preview | Ottawa Fury FC v Swope Park Rangers
OTTAWA - On the fifth anniversary of its club's first match at TD Place, Ottawa Fury FC is preparing to host Head Coach Nikola Popovic's former club, Swope Park Rangers, this Saturday evening (KO 7 p.m., OttawaFuryFC.com) in Week 20 of USL Championship competition.
Fury FC holds the 7th position in the Eastern Conference standings after a solid draw against USL title holder Louisville City FC this past Sunday.
With a record of 7W-8D-3L, the team is still on route to possibly the most successful season in the club's history.
In 2015, Fury FC combined record between Spring and Fall NASL Seasons was 15W-11D-4L, which led the club to a Soccer Bowl appearance and a combined final ranking of 2nd in the league.
Wal Fall's penalty goal against two-time defending champions Louisville City FC over the weekend, has earned him a spot on the bench for the Team of the Week 19. This is a second selection for Fall, with 5 teammates having also been honoured in one of the 8 Fury FC selections to Team of the Week this season.
This game against Swope Park Rangers could mark the 50th in Fury FC uniform for Chris Mannella who would join a select group of players to have reached this milestone.
Earlier this season, Callum Irving, Kevin Oliveira and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère played their 50th match with Ottawa.
The all-time leader and longest-tenured member of Fury FC as a professional club is its captain Carl Haworth, who has played 144 games with the club so far, on pace to reach his 150th this August.
Saturday's match against Swope Park Rangers will also be the first time Fury FC Head Coach Nikola Popovic faces his former club.
Popovic reached 4 consecutive finals and won 2 titles with Swope Park Rangers.
Now Fury FC Kevin Oliveira and Dakota Barnathan were also members of the successful 17/18 Swope Park Rangers team before joining Ottawa.
This will be the first time Swope Park Rangers visits TD Place to take on Fury FC and the first-ever meeting between the 2 clubs.
Swope Park Rangers have lost six times away from home this season (0W-2D-6L), and have a record of 2W-1D-2L in its last 5 matches.
Fury FC is 5W-1L-3D at home this season.
SCOUTING SWOPE PARK RANGERS
The Swope Park Rangers couldn't pull off a third consecutive Western Conference championship in 2018 as its postseason run ended at the hands of Phoenix Rising FC in the conference semifinals, but Paulo Nagamura's first season in charge was another positive one overall. The big question facing the Rangers now as they move to the Eastern Conference is how they will cope with the loss of a trio of key attacking pieces in the face of some seriously stiff opposition.
While those concerns are real, the depth of Sporting Kansas City's squad should again provide plenty of talent to the Rangers over the course of the season. There are also reliable returnees in both the defensive and midfield corps with defender Justin Bilyeu signing a new contract and midfielders Felipe Hernandez - a 2018 USL Championship 20 Under 20 selection - and Will Little both back for 2019. Nagamura's side will likely be challenged strongly this year, but it would be unwise to underestimate what the Rangers will be capable of. (via USL Championship)
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
"For me, a team that has gone to four finals and won two titles has to be a good team, have a good culture, and it's always dangerous. It's a little bit difficult to understand what they are going to present here - for example (on Wednesday) they used players from the first team that are very dangerous but we don't know if they are going to come or not - but whoever comes we have to be able to give a good performance and try to win the game."
Midfielder Chris Mannella
"We've been pretty consistent, which is something the manager wants from us. I thought we started the season very well and sort of progressed from there. We've watched our games and try to build from the good performances we've had all season. The team has clicked, the guys are a great group on and off the field, and it's just been working for us. We just have to build off that and continue for the second half of the season."
HOW TO WATCH
LIVE STREAM: OttawaFuryFC.com
TWITTER: Follow @OTTAWAFURYFC for LIVE updates #OTTvLOU #ForTheFury
TICKETS: Join us for a new edition of our Fury FC Patio Party at TD Place. Details at OttawaFuryFC.com
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