Ottawa Fury have mountain to climb against MLS's Vancouver Whitecaps
Wednesday's game Fury's 1st ever match against a Major League Soccer team
Ottawa Fury FC have faced tough opponents and played in some big games in their three seasons in the North American Soccer League, but on Wednesday they'll really be playing with — if not in — the big leagues.
Fury FC hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Ottawa team's first match ever against a team from Major League Soccer, the league a level above the NASL.
The event, separate from the NASL season, is part of the 2016 Amway Canadian Championship, a five-team tournament to determine which pro team will represent Canada in the 2017 CONCACAF Champions League, the North and Central American equivalent to the UEFA Champions League in Europe.
Vancouver, winner of the Canadian tournament last year, will represent Canada at this year's CONCACAF Champions League.
"They are up for the challenge," Nash told Robyn Bresnahan on Ottawa Morning. "A player wants to be tested against the best, and they are the best league in North America so it's a great opportunity to show what they can do."
Nash knows the Whitecaps well, having played there from 2004 to 2010 before retiring. His brother, retired two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, is also a minority owner of the team.
"It'll be a little bit strange to play against the Whitecaps," said Nash. But, he added it would be "neat to see some old faces on the other side of the pitch."
Vancouver's speed will be factor
That is, if the faces are not a blur. Nash described the Whitecaps as an attacking team that plays with a lot of pace, and that the Fury's team defence will be tested. But the Whitecaps have also allowed 25 goals in 15 MLS games.
Fury FC will also have to capitalize. Last year's team played in the NASL championship game before losing, but this year's squad has struggled on offence, scoring only one goal in the last four games.
"We are going to have to be very good defensively to stop them and pick and choose our moments to go forward," said Nash.
The match in Ottawa is the first of two games against the Whitecaps — the second match on June 8 is in Vancouver. The winner by aggregate score will go on to play the winner of the Toronto FC-Impact Montréal FC matches.
Wednesday's game is at 7:30 p.m. ET at TD Place Stadium.
With files from Ottawa Morning