PHOTO: New York Red Bulls II
By Théo Gauthier
Ottawa Fury FC history was made in the sweltering heat of Montclair, New Jersey, on Sunday afternoon as the Canadian club sweated out a 3-0 victory over New York Red Bulls II.
It took four and a half seasons, but the Fury finally provided the answer to the question of who scored their first hat-trick in club history: Brampton-born Adonijah Reid.
The Fury jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the third minute, when Kévin Oliveira made a successful tackle and retrieved the ball deep in Ottawa’s defensive zone and launched a ball up the left flank to a galloping Tony Taylor. Taylor deftly controlled the ball and dribbled his way toward the Red Bulls goal as defender Wahab Ackwei closed in. He then dished off to a wide-open Reid, who unleashed a curling right-footed shot past Evan Louro to open his 2018 account.
For the rest of the opening half, it looked like the Fury lead would be short-lived as the Red Bulls out-hustled their Canadian counterparts and attacked in waves, peppering Maxime Crépeau’s goal with shots from distance. In what is becoming a recurring theme this season, Crépeau would play the hero time and again as he launched himself through the air like soccer superhero saving the National Capital Region from nefarious Select balls.
The Fury looked sluggish in the first half, no doubt a result of playing four matches in twelve days, which included a hellish journey through the southern American states and a match in the Voyageurs Cup in Laval mid-week. The heat quickly took its toll, and it wasn’t difficult to spot the team with the liveliest legs on the pitch. The heat was so intense that the referee had to apply FIFA’s water-break rule in the 32nd and 70th minutes. As precarious as the Fury’s position seemed to appear, they crawled their way to a first-half lead, having secured only 28% of the possession.
Whether the result of a vigorous half-time team talk or the mercury falling during the second half, the Fury looked much more robust as the second half unfolded. They were rewarded in the 57th minute when Adonijah Reid added to his tally after a botched Red Bulls free kick ended up being snatched in mid-air by Crépeau. The Fury keeper quickly sent the ball hurtling towards Carl Haworth’s head at midfield, who directed his header to Taylor’s head ten yards ahead of him. Taylor spotted Reid’s run to his right and neatly placed the ball in the FC Dallas loanee’s path. All that was left for Reid to do was beat the keeper with a Red Bulls defender quickly closing on him. Reid, keeping his cool as if he was playing inside a Coleman cooler, slotted his second goal past Louro.
There was much work to be done, and the Fury put in a shift to make sure they held onto the three points. Despite finishing the match with only 29% possession, the Fury players’ dedication to their defensive responsibilities continued to frustrate the Red Bulls. Thomas Meilleur-Giguère—who seems to be getting stronger with every match partnering Nana Attakora in the centre of the defensive line—was stellar. Jamar Dixon had one of his most relentless performances in Fury colours, and Eddie Edward worked tirelessly along the Fury’s right flank to preserve the clean sheet. In truth, it was a total team effort.
The Fury’s hard work would be rewarded in the 64th minute when Oliveira, holding the ball in the centre circle, spotted Reid once more sprinting past the Red Bulls defence. Oliveira played a perfectly-weighted pass into Reid’s path who, with a defender on his left shoulder, back-heeled the ball to himself, turning the defender, and calmly slid the ball past a sprawling Loura. Game, set and match. The Fury were on their way to three points and their sixth win of the season.
The lesson on this night: a burst of speed on a balmy day can undo a defence all on its own. Reid taught the Red Bulls that pace, when combined with the accuracy of an elite sniper, is lethal.
The Fury now turn their attention to their Wednesday night clash with Première ligue de soccer du Québec champions AS Blainville, for their second leg Voyageurs Cup match at TD Place. The Fury take a one-goal lead into the two-legged affair, with the winner facing Toronto FC in the semi-final of the competition.
- If this whole professional footballer thing doesn’t work out, Maxime Crépeau might try his hand at selling thesauruses door-to-door; he’s stretching the number of describers for “key save” a writer can use.
- Surely drawing fashion inspiration from Johnny Cash, Marc Dos Santos and Diego Simeone, we have to ask: how many black shirts are in Nikola Popovic’s wardrobe?
- Perhaps King Nijah, as he is known on Twitter, was inspired by Juan Cuadrado’s sublime performance a few hours earlier in Colombia’s 3-0 victory over Poland. Speed+Skill, ladies and gentlemen.
- We’re thinking “Youngest player to get a hat-trick for the Fury” might stand the test of time.
Fury Man of the Match: Adonijah Reid. The 18-year-old continues to impress in Fury black and red, to the point of making some supporters nervous about a recall to FC Dallas. The same could be said for Crépeau and the Montreal Impact. One hopes for the continued steady hands of Evan Bush turning the Impact season around.