Fury hold Edmonton to goalless draw

Before the match, it was hyped as a "historical matchup between Canadian rivals". You would be forgiven if you thought this would be their first ever meeting. In fact, that came five years ago, when a young Samuel Lam combined with his brother Matthew to score the lone goal in an Edmonton victory.

Today's match did feature either of the Lam bothers. Sam can be found plying his trade with the Edmonton Scottish SC, while his younger brother Matt is now with Kitchee SC.

Today's FC Edmonton bears little resemblance to the side that last faced the Fury, but the same could be said for Ottawa. Instead, today's way all about the Ritchie's, or Richie's if you prefer. Ireland's Richie Ryan captained the home team, while England's Ritchie Jones controlled the middle of the park.

For the Fury, it was all about managing the Rabbits offensive prowess. They kept a tight backline, using the offside trap that George Graham perfected while in charge of Arsenal during the late eighties, and into the early nineties.

 Richie Ryan lead the Fury against their CSA Cup rivals, FC Edmonton.

Richie Ryan lead the Fury against their CSA Cup rivals, FC Edmonton.

Edmonton were called offside fifteen times. Ottawa weren't even called once.

Ottawa mustered a crowd of 2,411, a respectable number for a Wednesday CSA Cup preliminary round match. But football has never been about how many are there, it's how loud they are. The Bytown Boys, Fury Ultras, and the Stony Monday Riot acquitted themselves well.

Edmonton made three changes from their loss to the New York Cosmos, substituting Tomi Ameobi, Hanson Boakai, and the finally fit Eddie Edward, for Horace James, Milton Blanco, and Frank Jonke. There was also some shuffling of the squad, as Michael Nonni vacated Edward's preferred spot at left back.

Ottawa's Marc Dos Santos made only one change, removing injured centre back Omar Juan, and bringing on right back, and former Vancouver Whitecaps trialist Andres Fresenga.

"Very pleased with the performance, it was as well as we've played all season. I thought overall we were the better side, and I can't fault the lads' work rate," said Edmonton manager Colin Miller. When asked about the nippy weather conditions, he offered, "It's perfect for a Glasgow barbecue!"

 Ottawa manager Marc Dos Santos facing the media at Harris Stadium.

Ottawa manager Marc Dos Santos facing the media at Harris Stadium.

As for his counterpart, Marc Dos Santos, the Ottawa manager said "we created a lot of chances early on, but FC Edmonton certainly came on and we had a lot of trouble especially in the first twenty-five minutes of the second half. Our goalkeeper made a huge save, and it would have been unfair if Edmonton won."

He went on to say that "we have a lot of guys on this team that can play, when other guys are injured. We showed that today, Drew (Beckie) had an excellent game at centre back, Andres (Fresenga) was very good as well."

With Tom Heinemann out of the eighteen, the only other Vancouver connection was MLS inaugural season player Philippe Davies, better known as "Big Phil".

In the 8th minute, the Fury had an injury scare as Ryan challenged Ameobi in the air. As Dave from Edmonton would say, "one does not simply challenge Ameobi in the air." Ryan eventually rose to his feet, and would see out the rest of the match.

It should be noted that this was a homecoming for Edward. An Ottawa native, he was a product of the Fury's Academy before moving halfway across the country to sign with the Rabbits.

 Eddie Edward had his own supporters section at Harris Stadium on 23 April 2014.

Eddie Edward had his own supporters section at Harris Stadium on 23 April 2014.

Knowing that the second leg would be at home, and that Ottawa is an expensive trip for their own supporters, FC Edmonton donated their entire ticket allotment to Edwards, who gave them out to friends and family. For many of them, this was the first time that they would see him play. Alas, they also saw him pick up a yellow card for a hard tackle on Ottawa's Pierre-Rudolph Mayard in the 29th minute.

Both sides would have their chances, but as the game wore on, Edmonton would have the better of them. Miller made some attack-minded substitutions, replacing his fullbacks with wingers, and replacing a striker, but it was to no avail.

Fortunately for him and the Rabbits, the away goal rule is not in effect during the preliminary round. But that didn't stop him from trying to go for the victory.

 Zakaria Messoudi took on Neil Hlavaty late in the first leg.

Zakaria Messoudi took on Neil Hlavaty late in the first leg.

This was Ottawa's first foray in the CSA Cup, while it was the first draw for Edmonton in seven attempts. They've lost four times to Vancouver, and another two against Toronto.

The second leg will be at Clarke Stadium on Wednesday night, with the winner moving on to face the Montreal Impact in the Semi-Final.