PREVIEW | United Heads To Ottawa With Designs Of Ending Fury FC's Streak

Minnesota plays Ottawa for the third time this season, as Fury FC is currently on a 12-game unbeaten run
Minnesota United Staff | Aug 14, 2015

Minnesota United travels to Ottawa this Saturday with the confidence to take three points from the table-topping Fury FC. The Loons lead the league in goals scored with 30 and will have a near-full squad with Kevin Venegas expected to return for the weekend fixture.

“They've got a group of guys that are playing really hard, believing in themselves, and they have a lot of quality,” Minnesota United head coach Manny Lagos said. “They are organized defensively – giving up very few goals – and these last couple of games they have opened up their scoring touch, so it presents a great challenge for us because we're still trying to find our way in terms of what type of group can compete and be successful. We’ve had our moments in the last couple of weeks, and we've also had our dips.”

Ottawa has been strong defensively this season, conceding just 14 goals in 17 matches. During that stretch, Fury FC goalkeeper Romuald Peiser went nearly 700 minutes without letting in a goal. The streak was broken when Ottawa visited NSC Stadium earlier this Fall Season. In that match, Christian Ramirez beat Peiser with a half volley across the face of the goal into the back of the net. Fury FC evened things up with a penalty late in the match, but Minnesota showed its championship caliber that night, dominating most aspects of the game.

“They're organized and they've had a good run, but all good runs have to come to an end so hopefully that's the case on Saturday,” Minnesota United midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan said.


Ottawa Fury FC varies its attacking shape – pushing the ball wide and running up the field, playing the ball in and out with short passes and occasionally knocking the ball over the top to running strikers. Fury FC midfielders Siniša Ubiparipović and Richie Ryan are not afraid to strike from distance, and are accurate from 25 and 30 yards out. Expect Ottawa to line up in a 4-2-3-1 with striker Tom Heinemann holding his position at the top of the line playing as a target forward. Ten different players have scored for Ottawa this season.

Key to this Ottawa side is defense. The club is the stingiest defense in the NASL, with just 14 goals conceded, and is led by fantastic goalkeeping from Peiser and strong defensive play in the final third. Fury FC get players behind the ball, but can be susceptible to the counter, pushing at times four or five players forward who don’t recover after a missed pass or turnover.


Christian Ramirez – Six for six. Ramirez has scored in six straight matches for Minnesota and overtook Simone Bracalello as the franchise-leading scorer this past weekend with his 27th goal in just one and a half years of play with Minnesota United.

Yago – Earning the ENU Man of the Match honor for his play last Saturday, Yago found space on the wings in his first start of the year for Minnesota United against FC Edmonton, running past players and opening gaps for his teammates. Yago has electric pace and a top-end speed that rivals any player in the NASL.

Romuald Peiser – The Ottawa goalkeeper has been impressive this season, leading his team to outstanding defensive numbers at the halfway point of the year. Peiser is in for a challenge against Minnesota United on Saturday. The Loons have not been held scoreless in 17 matches.


Minnesota United has one loss and one draw against Ottawa this year, with one goal scored and two goals conceded, but the stats don’t tell the full story. The two matches played between these two teams have been night and day. United looked disjointed in the Spring Season against Ottawa, working through kinks in the early season and stayed off the scoresheet.

The Fall matchup featuring these the two squads was dominated by the Loons, who could have scored several more goals had their finishing been more clinical on that day. United has continued scoring throughout the Fall Season, and should show plenty of effort against the league leaders on Saturday.

Ramirez has hit his stride this Fall Season, scoring six goals in six matches and taking the second position in the NASL overall scoring campaign with seven total goals. Ramirez has played in 48 straight matches in all competitions for the Loons, proving integral in the attack for Minnesota United.

Heinemann is the top scorer for Ottawa Fury FC with four goals in 15 appearances. Heinemann is disruptive upfront, with a brutish attacking style – running through defenders and knocking the ball toward net in any way possible. Ottawa doesn’t rely on Heinemann scoring because its defense is so strong. What Heinemann does do well is hold up the ball, bringing his teammates into the match and creating opportunities for every player on the field.

Defensively, Ottawa has a clear edge over Minnesota United. Fury FC’s defenders have been organized and in good form throughout the year – earning eight shutouts in 17 matches and conceding just 14 goals. The Loons have allowed 26 goals, including nine goals in the last four matches. Giving up just one goal last week is a sign of improvement for Minnesota, after dealing with some injury woes in the defensive side of the pitch for the past few weeks.

United captain Aaron Pitchkolan was moved from his usual midfield position to center back last Saturday to shore-up United’s back four.  Pitchkolan looked comfortable in his new role, and said that the experience of the players that make up United’s defensive line made it easy to transition into a new position.

 “It's a position I've played a lot of time in before, not so much recently, but I played it a lot in preseason,” Pitchkolan said. “So it's familiar to me – I'm familiar with the guys. Everyone in the back line is experienced and knows what they're doing, so it's been an easy transition.”

Minnesota will be contending with another Ottawa crowd this Saturday, playing the first of two away matches and the fourth away match in five games on August 15 at TD Place Stadium.

“It continues to make sure we build on what type of team we are when we go on the road,” Lagos said. “I thought we had a good game against San Antonio and some good moments, and a few individual mistakes against Jacksonville, and the Cosmos game was a very good half and a not-so-good second half that we lost. Ultimately for us, we are where we are, we are presented with a great challenge on the road against one of the best teams in the league right now, and this is one of those games to build into what type of team we are and what kind of character we have.”

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