By: Tyler Patchen
After Birmingham Legion FC’s inaugural game, having suffered a 0-2 loss to Bethlehem Steel, the team is looking for another shot at victory in Saturday’s showdown with Ottawa Fury FC.
Looking back at the previous match, Legion FC placed 13 shots on goal, earned seven corners, and held 53% possession over Bethlehem. Midfielder Mikey Lopez led the team in connected passes with 58. Eric Avila and Kyle Culbertson followed suit with 48 and 47 passes, respectively. Ball control will be necessary as Ottawa has surpassed their 2018 average in just one week with 448 total passes at Charleston Battery in Week 1.
Also in 2018, Ottawa goalie Maxime Crepau set a regular-season record with 15 shutouts. However, Ottawa’s attack only saw 31 goals in 34 games, granting them the second-fewest in the league. Addressing their attack is one of their major focuses as Fury FC has managed to acquire Christiano Francois from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, adding a lot of speed to their front line.
Ottawa also has playmaker Kevin Oliveira, a 22-year-old Cape Verde international. This returning playmaker will have his chance creation level raised, according to Head Coach Nikola Popovic, which is coming to fruition as he managed to bag Ottawa’s first goal of the season in a tie against Charleston Battery.
Ottawa has also acquired Charlie Ward from San Antonio FC and Wal Fall from Saint Louis FC to bolster the mid-field. Ward led Ottawa in passes against Charleston last week, completing 77 of 80 passes.
Legion FC are also entering Match Day 2 with new faces. Midfielder Zach Herivaux, a Haitian National Team player, has joined the club on loan from New England. Brian Wright is also on loan from New England and will look to join the attack in trying to secure Legion’s first goal going forward.
Forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen has been declared healthy and is ready to go. Hollinger-Janzen was subbed off with a knock in last week’s contest.
Tonight’s matchup between Legion FC and Ottawa Fury kicks off at 7PM at BBVA Compass field. Gates open at 5PM for a St. Patricks Day celebration on the plaza with $2 green beer (while supplies last) and free Legion – St. Paddy’s Day coozies to the first 1,000 fans. Tickets can be purchased at Legion FC’s ticket website here.
Tyler Patchen is a full-time reporter for the Birmingham Business Journal and an avid soccer fan. You can find him on Twitter at @BhamHealthTech.