After grabbing a draw on Mother’s Day against Atlanta United 2, Bethlehem Steel FC returns to Talen Energy Stadium to host Ottawa Fury FC on Sunday, May 19 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The match is set to be broadcast on ESPN+. This one looks to be a fight, with Ottawa sitting at ninth place in the Eastern Conference Standings and the Steel just behind in 10th.
Defense – Ottawa has been stout defensively this year, only allowing seven goals through eight matches. The Fury hold a +2 goal differential, but really keep themselves in games but shutting down opposing attacks. The club’s backline has been solid this season, but goalkeepers Callum Irving and David Monsalve have been doing the lion’s share of the work to keep goals against low.
Scoring – The Canadian side has had trouble producing goals in bulk to this point in the season, having scored nine goals in eight matches compared to Steel FC’s offense which as produced 16 goals in 10 matches. The side has only scored multiple goals in three of their eight games (all wins). If the Steel can tighten up their defense, they’ll have a good shot at taking a result from this one.
Players to watch
Kevin Oliveira – Oliveira is the Fury’s leading goal scorer with three goals, making him a focal point for opposing defenses. The midfielder has proven his ability to score quickly finding the back of the net less than a minute into the match against Steel FC last May. This season he leads the club in multiple other offensive categories, including shots (21), shots on goal (9), fouls committed (18) and fouls won (16).
Wal Fall – Fall has proven to be a great distributer from the midfield for Ottawa, especially in the final third. He currently leads the club in game-winning assists (2) and always seems to be in dangerous spots when the game is on the line. At 6’2”, he can be a threat to either score or assist on any set piece.
Callum Irivng – Irving is a big reason why the Canadian side is stout on defense. He does have a solid backline in front of him, but the keeper has saved 81% of all shots he’s had to face in 2019 and currently holds a goals-against-average of 0.60 goals per game entering this weekend’s match.
Nikola Popovic – Popovic joins Fury FC after spending the 2017 season as the head coach of Swope Park Rangers leading them to their second straight Eastern Conference Championship and their second consecutive berth in the USL Cup Final. In 2017, Popovic and his squad produced a record of 17-8-7 in just their second season. Popovic served as an assistant to former Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos during Swope Park’s inaugural season in 2016. A UEFA Pro licensed coach – the highest UEFA license available – Popovic has coached in eight countries, speaks four languages (Serbian, Portuguese, English and Spanish) and has coached at the academy, club and international levels.