Match Preview: Legion FC V. Ottawa Fury FC
Birmingham Legion FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC
Saturday, March 16 - 7PM Kickoff - BBVA Compass Field
Legion FC look to build off a strong showing in match one, a game in which it poured in more shots (13), more open-play crosses (22), more corners (7), and held more possession (53%) than Bethlehem Steel FC, but simply couldn't find the back of the net.
Midfielder Mikey Lopez led the team in completed passes in week one, with 58, followed closely by fullbacks Eric Avila and Kyle Culbertson with 48 and 47. They will look to carry that proficiency on the ball into week two against an Ottawa team that greatly increased their completed passes in week one (448) above their average total in 2018 (332.1).
Ottawa Fury FC saw its first entry written into the USL Championship's record book in 2018, as goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau set a regular-season record with 15 shutouts. Unfortunately for the club from Canada's capital, that defensive work was undone by an attack that scored only 31 goals in 34 games, the second-fewest in the league. That lack of firepower saw the side finish 10th in the Eastern Conference and out of the USL Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Addressing those attacking issues has been the main focus this offseason, with Fury FC acquiring Christiano Francois from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to add the former Maryland standout's speed to its front line. Ottawa has also bolstered its midfield with the acquisition of Charlie Ward (San Antonio FC) and former All-League selection Wal Fall (Saint Louis FC) to shore up the middle of the field. General Manager Julian de Guzman has also continued the club's pursuit of top young Canadians with Luca Ricci and Jordan Tisseur joining the club from the Montreal Impact's Academy and midfielder Chris Manella re-signing with the club.
The biggest challenge for Head Coach Nikola Popovic will be to improve the club's attack, where much more will be expected from returning playmaker Kevin Oliveira. The 22-year-old Cape Verde international had only four goals and two assists a season ago while producing less than one key pass per game. Raising his chance creation level is going to be a big factor in whether Ottawa's third season in the Championship results in its first postseason appearance. (via USL Championship)
Ottawa newcomer Ward led the team versus Charleston Battery last week, completing 77 of his 80 attempted passes (96.3%), a mark good for fourth in the league. Oliveira is off to a hot start as well, bagging Fury FC's first goal of the season versus the Battery in week one.
Ward and Oliveira may be matched up in the midfield with one of Legion FC's newcomers this week, Zach Herivaux who just got to BHM on loan from New England. Joining Herivaux on the move down from Boston is forward Brian Wright, who will provide another option in attack along with Chandler Hoffman, Prosper Kasim, and Daniel Johnson who all look to score the first goal in Legion FC history.
Forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen will add to the attack as well and is fully healthy and ready to go after subbing off with a knock last week. All Legion FC players are available to play this Saturday.
Tickets for match two of Legion FC's inaugural season are available now at bhmlegion.com/tickets or by contacting the Legion FC Ticket Office at 205-600-4635 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The game will be aired live locally on My68 and nationally on ESPN+. Follow @bhmlegion on Twitter for more info and live game updates.
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