Atlético Ottawa Share Points in Draw with Vancouver FC

Atlético Ottawa Share Points in Draw with Vancouver FC

Atlético Ottawa travelled to the West Coast on Sunday, May 12th for their first match this season against Vancouver FC, at Willoughby Community Park, in Langley, British Columbia. The teams fought hard and ultimately ended up sharing points, as the Match of the Week ended in a 1-1 draw.

Despite being their fourth game in twelve days, the red-and-white stripes fought hard and outshot Vancouver 7-1 in the first half, with 3 of those shots on target, in a scoreless opening frame. Just after kickoff Ottawa secured a corner kick, after a pass from Manny Aparicio at the byline to Rubén Del Campo was flicked away by Renan Garcia. Although the ball was cleared, Ottawa quickly won it back and the Swiss striker ran the ball forward and passed to Ballou Tabla at the 10-yard line, who took a shot on net but didn’t have enough force behind it to see a goal. Vancouver quickly retaliated and got the ball into Atlético’s end — Mikaël Cantave shot, but it was headed away by Amer Didić.

Three minutes later, Gabriel Bitar sent a free kick over the wall and straight into Ottawa goalkeeper Rayane Yesli’s arms. Vancouver also had similar sequences the 17th and 25th minutes; first, Bitar sent the ball forward to Moses Dyer following an advantage given by the referee, who couldn’t get the needed weight behind his kick and Yesli easily scooped it up. Then, Paris Gee made a quick pass to Cantave down the left flank, and the winger sent a long ball towards the net that was easily saved.

With all that being said, the visitors had the upper hand for the majority of the first half. In the 11th minute, Sissoko made a quick pass to Ollie Bassett — positioned at the top of the arc — who sent the ball past three Vancouver players to meet Tabla who shot towards the far post, but was denied by goalkeeper Callum Irving.

Photo © CPL Photos

Then, in the 31st minute, Manny Aparicio passed forward to Del Campo, who flicked it to Tabla open at the top of the 18-yard-box. He took the shot, but it wasn’t high enough to avoid Irving’s hands, and the ball was sent loose into the penalty area. Persevering, Tabla got his foot to it once more, but this time his kick was blocked by Brian White and cleared of the penalty area. Aboubacar Sissoko was first to the second rebound and went for the frame himself, but Garcia deflected it, sending the ball out for a corner.

The last opportunity in this exciting first-half came in the 43rd minute; Yesli’s long ball into the final third was headed on by Del Campo to Tabla, who took initiative and ran it forward. The winger back-heeled the ball past Allan Enyou to the Swiss forward, and Ruben took the shot, but Irving, running out of his goal, redirected the ball forcing the Ottawa player to sprint to keep it in. Atlético, keeping possession, made a couple more passes in the area before Sissoko got the ball back to Tabla, but he unfortunately skied it over the frame.

Both goals were secured in a compelling second half that saw fewer shots but more great plays from both sides. In the 56th minute, the visitors stole the ball from White just outside the box and brought it into the penalty area. Tabla located Bassett at the top of the box who took a shot forcing Irving to dive and parry the ball away. Del Campo was ready for the rebound and, with his left foot, sent the ball ricocheting off Irving’s abdomen into the net for the first goal of the game. This was a nice gift after Del Campo was called offside for two earlier opportunities in the 28th and 39th minutes.

Just after the goal, Alberto Zapater fouled Cantave in a prime area outside the penalty box. Vasco Fry opted for a short pass towards the centre, forcing the wall to move apart and allowing Garcia an opening to drive the ball towards the net. The Ottawa goalkeeper was forced left and pushed the ball away from the frame, but it was picked up by Bitar who then forced a second save from Yesli.

Photo © CPL Photos

Vancouver continued to press on looking for the equalizer. In the 62nd minute, Kadin Chung sent the ball high into the box and the goalkeeper jumped and cleared it to the edge of the box, where Bitar picked it up and sent a shot wide of the frame. The home side finally found the back of the net in the 68th minute, when Chung, chased down the line by Gabriel Antinoro, managed to cross the ball into the penalty area towards Alejandro Díaz, who headed the ball in, to knot the game up at 1 apiece.

Looking to secure the three points, the home team had two more chances in the second half; the first from a free kick in the 78th minute sent in by Fry, which forced Yesli to make a jumping catch, and the second in the 92nd minute when Paris Gee went for a long ball, which turned out to be another easy save for ATO’s goalkeeper.

However, Atlético also had opportunities; in the 90th minute, Dani Morer sent the ball in towards the 10-yard line to Antinoro. Chung may have gotten his head to it first, directing it to the top of the box, where Maxim Tissot got to it and decided to take the shot. The ball was deflected on the way to goal and redirected again to help Irving make the save. Then, in the 93rd minute, Kris Twardek sent a ball in towards the home team's frame, but Irving pushed it away. Ottawa, with one last free kick before the final whistle in the 94th minute, saw Antinoro send the ball to Sissoko who volleyed it on frame, forcing the goalkeeper into another parrying save.

This week’s player stand-out goes to the player whose name is on everyone’s lips: Manny Aparicio. While arguably not his best performance this season, he was still one of the best players on Sunday and has been one of the most consistent players this season. Aparicio has earned his spot starting in the midfield, which we saw this weekend when he managed to win several free kicks, including an important one just outside the box in the 35th minute, and he also made quite a few defensive actions and recoveries. It’s no wonder he’s played all but 19 minutes this campaign.

Photo © CPL Photos

I was also quite impressed with Morer. Being new on the team, I worried it would take him time to adapt, but he’s integrated well and seems to have a strong impact on the field, like we saw on Sunday after he was subbed on.

I don’t want to be too critical of the players, especially a team that just played four games in twelve days. I can only imagine how exhausted, both physically and mentally, they must be, and it’s possible this affected their performance Sunday. However, in order to maintain their success, there are a few issues that need addressing. I’d like to see Ottawa benefit from their runs forward, as a couple of times they slowed their pace, which affected the momentum of the play, and allowed opposing players to catch up and stop any advantage they may have had. I think they can also improve on their crosses into the box, because they often didn’t meet a target or were overshot completely. Finally, I’ve noticed players picking up unnecessary fouls that could be avoided, like we saw with Ballou in the 35th minute. With referees handing out cards like candy on Halloween, Atléti needs to be tactful on when and how they pick up a yellow.

Atlético Ottawa play their next game on the road against Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium, in Langford, British Columbia on Friday, May 17th at 10 PM EDT. This will be the second time Ottawa and Pacific face off and the first time they meet in the regular season; both teams are currently tied in the league table on points and goal difference, with Atléti leading on Goals For. Be sure to join the Capital City Supporters for the watch party at the Glebe Central Pub to see if Ottawa will be the first club to break Pacific’s clean sheet run.

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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