Atlético Ottawa Secure Historic Win Against Forge FC in 3-0 Victory

Atlético Ottawa Secure Historic Win Against Forge FC in 3-0 Victory

On Saturday afternoon in the nation’s capital city, Atlético Ottawa secured three points by defeating Forge FC 3-0 in an eventful game that fortified their four-point lead atop the league table. It’s a significant milestone for Ottawa as they managed to beat the four-time league champions on home turf for the first time, in front of nearly 6,000 fans. The loss is sure to sting for the Hamilton team who had just acquired their spot in the Canadian Championship semi-finals after beating MLS side CF Montréal earlier in the week.

This match marks yet another major achievement for Atléti who are making history just nine games into their season. They’ve secured victories against York United and Forge FC for the first time at home, broke the record for the largest goal margin in a Canadian Championship game (later matched by Toronto FC), and Rubén Del Campo has now equaled the CPL record for the longest streak of goals in consecutive matches, netting five goals in five league games.

The home side, still undefeated, had the upper foot and outshoot the visitors eight to four in the first half. Ottawa seized an early lead in the 13th minute thanks to a faulty pass from Alessandro Hojabrpour to his defender. Del Campo intercepted the ball, charged forward, and aimed for goal, but his shot was deflected by Alexander Achinioti-Jönsoon. Ballou Tabla picked up the loose ball and attempted a strike, but it was cleared by Forge to the edge of their box. With the play continuing in the visitor’s end, Noah Jensen attempted to control the ball and accidentally flicked it to Gabriel Antinoro, who passed to Aboubacar Sissoko. The midfielder fed the ball to Manny Aparicio who capitalized on the opportunity, scoring from a distance and marking ATO’s first ever goal against Forge FC at TD Place.

Unhappy with Ottawa’s 1-0 lead, Forge mounted four consecutive attacks, but couldn’t break through Ottawa’s defense. In the 19th minute, Béni Badibanga’s service to Kwasi Poku in the box was intercepted by Sissoko. Then, three minutes later, Jensen slipped the ball to David Choinière in the penalty area, but Luke Singh’s timely tackle deflected the ball out for a corner. Following the corner kick play, Achinioti-Jönsoon shot past two defenders on frame, but was denied by the Ottawa goalkeeper. Despite his field of vision being blocked, Rayane Yesli dropped down to his left and parried the ball up high into his box and his impressive reaction awarded him the Allstate Save of the Match. Meanwhile, Malik Owolabi-Belewu attempted a bicycle kick on the live ball, but instead struck Kris Twardek’s face and picked up a booking. Finally, in the 25th minute, Daniel Parra Durán received the ball at the sideline of Ottawa’s box, and attempted to carry it forward, but was brought down by Sissoko in a dangerous zone. The referee deemed the fall simulation, to the relief of the Ottawa fans.

Both teams saw several more opportunities a piece in the later part of the first half, but neither could exploit them despite some close calls. The two closes’ chances were Forge’s corner kick in the 33rd minute that Del Campo cleared off the goal line with a header and Tabla’s breakaway towards the frame that was denied by a Kalongo slide-in.

Photo © Freestyle Photography

The visitors pressed hard in the second half, getting four shots on target, but failed to score. On the other hand, Ottawa outshoot Hamilton twelve to seven and saw two more goals in the 71st and 82nd minutes, giving them a comfortable lead.

Hamilton, determined to get the equalizer, had two chances before Ottawa extended their lead. In the 47th minute, Yesli’s remarkable fingertip-save denied Choinière’s effort on goal and the resulting corner sailed directly into the goalie’s outstretched arms. They then had a dangerous free kick in the 64th minute from outside Atléti’s box, which they opted to take short. Badibanga failed to locate his target Achinioti-Jönsoon at the near post, and Yesli collected the ball.

ATO was quick to counter attack – Aparicio collected a long ball from Yesli and ran it into Forge’s box. The midfield opted to deliver it across the face of goal to Del Campo in the 51st minute. Unfortunately, the striker didn’t get his foot to it in time and it rolled across the frame. Then, in the 58th minute Tabla recovered the ball he lost to Parra Durán and dribbled it into the box for a shot that was saved by Kalongo.

Continuing their attack, Ottawa doubled their lead in the 71st minute courtesy of substitutes Dani Morer and Alberto Zapater. Morer won a set piece just outside Forge’s penalty area on the near flank and Bassett delivered it directly to the 6-yard line where Zapater jumped and guided the ball into the net using his head.

Less than ten minutes later, Atlético extended their lead by three when Del Campo sunk a magnificent ball into Forge’s net and took top spot in the CPL Golden Boot race. Morer received a pass from Didić and flicked it to Bassett who quickly passed it right back, and over the head of Samuel. Morer used the bounce to feed the ball up to Del Campo, and the Swiss dribbled it to the corner of the 6-yard line before burying it into the far corner of the net, beating Kalongo who went low to attempt the save.

Photo © Freestyle Photography

A controversial play followed in the 84th minute that could have seen Ottawa leading 4-0 when Kalongo came out of his net to block a shot from Aboubakary Sacko and took out his defender Malcolm Duncan in the process. However, what had fans up in arms was as Tissot ran in to collect the loose ball, he was fouled by Duncan’s outstretched leg that hooked the Gatineau boy’s ankle and took him down in the box. Duncan saw no punishment for this play and the game carried on. Ottawa’s last chance of the game came in the 93rd minute for Samuel Salter whose shot got blocked by Kalongo.

Forge FC pressed hard during the final minutes of play and saw one more chance in regular time and three more opportunities in added time to try to break Ottawa’s clean sheet. It began in the 88th minute after Morer fouled Samuel outside Ottawa’s penalty area. Kyle Bekker took the free kick and aimed for the near post but Zapater headed it out. Then, in the 91st minute, Bekker received a short corner and played it ahead to Borges who fired the ball towards goal, which Yesli saved with a dive to his right. In the 92nd minute, Duncan played a clever pass back to Borges positioned half way up midfield – he opted for a long-strike that went wide of the frame. With tension mounting in the final minute of play, Yesli expertly pushed away a lofted ball from Bekker towards the far side of his box; it was passed around as Forge tried to break through Ottawa’s defense until Didić cleared it and the game soon ended.

Overall, the team looked good this week and it’s apparent that the players are gelling and their communication on the field has improved. Manny Aparicio and Rubén Del Campo both had great games, but I want to highlight two other players who have significantly improved week-to-week. Luke Singh’s performance has consistently gotten better and he displayed fantastic passing, executed several great clearances, and remained calm on the ball on Saturday. I was also impressed with Aboubacar Sissoko, who was a key presence against his former team. His passing was great, he won numerous duels, and he provided the assist that led to Aparicio’s goal.

Photo © CPL Photos

Atlético Ottawa’s next fixture is the crucial second leg of the Canadian Championship quarterfinals against Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium on Wednesday, May 29th at 10 PM EDT. Both teams enter the match with an aggregated score of 0-0, with Ottawa holding the valuable away goal advantage, a factor that could significantly bolster their bid for the spot in the semi-finals. Don’t miss the chance to join the Capital City Supporters’ watch party at the Glebe Central Pub, as Ottawa strives to become the second CPL team to advance to the semis and potentially face an MLS side for the first time.

About C.D.

C.D. Girard (she/her/elle) discovered Atlético Ottawa during their 2023 season and has been a loyal fan ever since. A long-time admirer of the sport, she first began playing football at the age of seven and most looks forward to international competitions where she supports both Canada and the Netherlands.

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