Paulo Junior (red jersey) celebrates after scoring in Ottawa Fury FC's win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals on June 1, 2016. (Photo: Canada Soccer by Steve Kingsman)
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Fury FC scored twice in the first half to earn a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals on Wednesday before 9,057 fans at TD Place.
Jonny Steele and Paulo Junior struck for one goal each as Ottawa became the second North American Soccer League team to defeat a Major League Soccer side in the competition’s history. FC Edmonton (NASL) upset the Impact de Montreal, 2-1, in 2014.
"No matter what happens after this, this win is an accomplishment," remarked Fury goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, who made three saves in recording the shutout. "Now we have to be ambitious. There's a very tough 90 minutes coming up in Vancouver."
Steele gave Fury FC a 1-0 lead in the third minute, curling a Carl Haworth feed with the outside of his left foot past diving goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
"We just said we're going to give everything and try our best," Peiser commented. "They had a really good second half, but we scored on our opportunities. Last Saturday [a 2-1 loss to Fort Lauderdale], we struggled to score, but today the first shot goes in and that made a big difference.”
Ottawa doubled its lead in the 41st minute, when Paulo Junior knocked in the rebound after Tornaghi saved Haworth's header.
Vancouver, which will be playing in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League later this year, almost pulled a goal back in the 54th minute, but Peiser parried a shot by midfielder Nicolas Mezquida over the crossbar. Peiser then thwarted Octavio Rivero’s point-black attempt in second-half stoppage time.
"Football is a game where the underdog can always win, as you saw tonight," Fury FC head coach Paul Dalglish said.
The second leg will be played on June 8 at BC Place in Vancouver.
NOTES: In the evening’s other semifinal, first-leg encounter, Jonathan Osorio (13’, 34’) and Jordan Hamilton (60’, 80’) scored two goals each as host Toronto FC posted a 4-2 win over the Impact de Montreal.