Photo courtesy Harrisburg City Islanders
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Harrisburg City Islanders earned a 1-0 victory against Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday night at FNB Field despite playing the entire second half down to 10 men. Chances were few and far between in the first half, but the game swung toward Fury FC five minutes before halftime when Harrisburg was reduced to 10 men after Cardel Benbow was sent off for a high challenge on Ottawa’s Jonathan Barden. It was the City Islanders that took the lead less than a minute into the second half, however, as Ropapa Mensah scored with a deft chip from the right side of the penalty area after Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving had gone to ground. Fury FC’s first good chance to equalize came in the 67th minute as Onua Obasi volleyed just wide of the left post, while Nick DePuy forced a save by City Islanders goalkeeper Sean Lewis five minutes later with a turning shot. Ottawa’s Ryan Williams also fired on goal from a free kick with 13 minutes to go, while Lewis gathered in a low shot by Azake Luboyera from the top of the penalty area. Fury FC was unable to solve Harrisburg’s defense, however, as the City Islanders moved above Ottawa in the Eastern Conference standings.
46’ – HAR – Ropapa Mensah (Jonny Mendoza)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The City Islanders dealt what might be the final blow to Fury FC’s playoff hopes as their battling defensive display throughout the second half proved enough to allow Ropapa Mensah’s goal to stand as the winner. Harrisburg’s chances of reaching the postseason before kickoff were as slim as it made Ottawa’s after Wednesday night’s game, but the side is now undefeated in four games as it looks to end the season on a high note.
2. Down a man, Harrisburg was going to need to strike quickly if it was going to take the lead. Off the opening kickoff of the second half, the City Islanders did just that. The key to the goal was the strength of Ropapa Mensah, who was able to create the angle he needed to receive Jonny Mendoza’s pass while warding off his marker well enough to turn him in the area. One nicely executed finish later and Mensah had his team-leading sixth goal of the season, and Harrisburg had the lead despite its numerical disadvantage.
3. With the side still in a fight for its playoff life, Fury FC was oddly out of sorts on Wednesday night as it didn’t bring the level of urgency needed to earn the victory required. Even after gaining a player-advantage with five minutes to go in the first half, Ottawa’s first shot of the game didn’t arrive until the 67th minute. As well as the City Islanders kept their defense organized, Ottawa played into their hands as it looked to find an extra pass or was unable to connect on numerous crosses into the penalty area. The road to the playoffs now seems more improbable than ever after a highly perplexing night.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jonny Mendoza, Harrisburg City Islanders – Mendoza provided the assist on Ropapa Mensah’s goal, but also was a strong workhorse throughout, finishing with four tackles and six clearances.
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Saint Louis FC – September 30, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Field
Ottawa Fury FC vs. Charleston Battery – October 1, 2 p.m. ET, TD Place