The Charleston Battery square off against Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM at TD Place Stadium in a first-round play-in match of the USL Championship Playoffs. It's win or go home for the Battery who punched their ticket to the postseason with a 5-1 win against Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday afternoon.
Ottawa booked their first-ever trip to the USL Championship Playoffs with a 2-1 road win against Swope Park on October 8th. Wal Fall converted on a late penalty in the first-half before Swope Park's Zé Pedro equalized in the 85th minute. Kévin Oliveira scored four minutes later to win it for Fury FC.
The Battery are no strangers to postseason play as their 5-1 win against Bethlehem Steel on Saturday afternoon secured a twelfth straight playoff appearance (ninth in the USL Championship era). Forwards Arthur Bosua and Ataulla Guerra scored Charleston's first three goals while A.J. Paterson finished things off with two goals in the final ten minutes of the match.
Charleston took one point in two regular-season meetings between the Canadian side opening the season with a 1-1 draw. It was Ottawa who took an early lead when Oliveira slipped one past Joe Kuzminsky five minutes into the match. Romario Piggott and the Battery thought they drew level in the 17th minute but Piggott was ultimately ruled offside and the goal was disallowed. Ian Svantesson's second-half goal earned a point for the Black and Yellow after the forward collected a second chance ball inside the box and tapped home.
The Battery suffered a 3-2 loss in their last trip to TD Bank Stadium. Vincenzo Candela scored his first goal for the Battery but it was Ottawa captain, Carl Haworth, who stole the show. Haworth brought the hosts level with a free kick in the 29th minute and a second in the 74th. Substitute, Zeiko Lewis, would make it a game in the 84th combining with Angelo Kelly for a quick one-two in the box. Elhadji Mour Samb restored the Fury FC lead in the 87th minute as the Battery were unable to grab a late equalizer.
Despite Ottawa's positioning in the Eastern Conference Fury FC has been solid at home this year, finishing the regular season with a 10-2-5 record and a +12 goal differential. Ottawa have won three of their last four at home while scoring seven goals and allowing just two. A major reason for Ottawa's home success this season has been Haworth and his ability to score goals while creating chances for his teammates. Fury FC's captain shares the team lead for goals scored (10) and ranks in the top-10 in the Eastern Conference in chances created (63). If Haworth is at the top of his game Wednesday night, Ottawa will be a tough out for the Battery.
The Black and Yellow enter the postseason in form and will look to avoid another early exit from the playoffs. Arthur Bosua and Zeiko Lewis have led the Battery to back to back wins and should feature once again against Ottawa. Lewis was recently named USL Player of the Week for his recent performances against Memphis 901 FC and Bethlehem Steel FC while Bosua has scored three goals in his last two starts for the club. Mix in an attacking threat from full-back's Kyle Nelson and A.J. Paterson and you have a recipe for a dangerous attack. An experienced backline, led by Taylor Mueller and Jarad van Schaik, will look to keep Haworth and co. off the scoresheet Wednesday night.
Don't miss a minute of the 2019 USL Championship Playoff action with all postseason matches being streamed live on ESPN+.
Ottawa Fury FC: USL Championship Record, 14-10-10
Goals: Fall, Haworth (10)
Assists: François, Haworth (6)
Chances Created: Haworth (63)
Saves: Irving (73)
Clean Sheets: Irving (8)
Charleston Battery: USL Championship Record, 11-10-13
Goals: Lewis (7)
Assists: Higashi, Lewis (5)
Chances Created: Lewis (43)
Saves: Kuzminsky (91)
Clean Sheets: Kuzminsky (8)