TORONTO, ON – Time to put the train back on track – that’s all that is important for Atletico Ottawa on Friday night against York United, coming off a dreadful 6-1 loss to Valour.
Heading to York Lions Stadium for the first of two matches in as many weeks, Ottawa has the task of rebounding from their worst loss in club history while also proving that they are a club that can contend with the best.
York United, meanwhile, continue their homestand against their Ontario rivals and will look for a second consecutive win under Martin Nash, coming off a complete effort and 2-0 win over Cavalry in last Friday’s clash.
While the two clubs’ last results could not be more different, it is still early in the season, and both are in good form through three games.
Ottawa has established itself as a stingy defensive side under head coach Carlos Gonzalez, posting clean sheets and 1-0 wins in the first two games. In contrast, York has found an attacking rhythm with Osaze De Rosario, Oliver Minatel, and others.
“I think at this point in the year, we’re just trying to improve every game,” Nash said pre-match. “We’re just working hard; it’s still early going. We’re not the finished article. We just want to be better every game, and if we do that, we’ll be good at the end of the year.”
Despite facing a team that is reeling from a loss, it won’t be an easy task for the Nine Stripes, with Atletico still sitting second in the league table with six points and having top-quality matches through their opening two performances.
“They had a blip last weekend, but don’t underestimate them,” Nash continued. “The first two games, they didn’t concede a goal, and they’re going to come back strong and want to prove themselves .”
As both sides clash for three points, there will be some notable absences, including the final suspended match for Ottawa defender Drew Beckie. On the York side, Mateo Hernandez has two games remaining in his suspension, and Michael Petrasso is still unavailable for selection. However, a boon for York is the return of striker Lowell Wright, who is back from the Canadian men’s U20 camp in Costa Rica.
York: Attack looks for more flow in the final third
Riding a high of a 2-0 win last week, the home side will look for similar success against Ottawa and turn to their prowess in the final third. Ottawa had issues defending the wide areas in their loss against Valour and have not looked stellar outside through their three games.
With their potential fragility at the back after a tumultuous loss, York will turn to Max Ferrari, Diyaeddine Abzi, Oliver Mintatel and likely one of De Rosario or Wright. With an abundance of skilled attacking options, Nash’s men have the chance to take the game early.
A lucky option for York is their three strikers, all of whom have found CPL successful. De Rosario has scored in his last two matches, the returning Lowell Wright and CPL original Austin Ricci.
While Nash did not disclose his lineup plan to reporters, he hinted that he would use combinations of one and two strikers throughout the season when they have that option. On Friday, they have a chance to test that with a fully healthy squad.
Ottawa: A quick turnaround after a long week
Gonzalez thought the trip to North York from Ottawa would be longer, but when Atletico stepped off the bus, it was only the week’s feeling, not the bus trip nor the turnaround.
After such a loss, the Ottawa gaffer explained that the days had felt long. However, their quick turnaround from Sunday to Friday helps change that mood quicker.
“It’s not been an easy week after that defeat, but the team has been working well, and the motivation is higher than last game.” said the first-year Ottawa coach. “We analyzed what we did wrong, we have been working to improve it, and today we are prepared for the matchup tomorrow.”
After two clean sheets in his first two games on the Atletico sidelines, Gonzalez shifted his backline last week, and it did not work in the way he hoped. Pulling centre-back Macdonald Niba and midfielder Ben McKendry for U SPORTS rookie Jose da Cunha and Abdou Sissoko proved to fail, and he subbed da Cunha off at halftime.
While Beckie won’t be available at centre back, re-introducing some of the players from their first two matches could be beneficial for Gonzalez. However, he hasn’t lost faith in some of last week’s changes.
Everything depends on the situation; everything depends on the moment,” he said. “I don’t think that the things that didn’t work last day wouldn’t work in the future.”
It is bound to be a challenge for Atletico Ottawa as they look to rebound from last week’s disaster. However, they have a stellar chance to do it against a solid yet beatable squad in North York. Meanwhile, York has an opportunity to establish itself amongst the league’s elite.
Atletico Ottawa and York United kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, streaming lime on OneSoccer.ca.