Atlético Ottawa Suffers Second Defeat of Season in 1-0 Loss to Pacific FC

Atlético Ottawa Suffers Second Defeat of Season in 1-0 Loss to Pacific FC

Atlético Ottawa hosted Pacific FC at TD Place on July 7th, and despite dominating possession and taking 22 shots to Pacific’s 6, they suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat, marking their second loss to Pacific this season across all competitions. Ottawa, currently leading the league table, now faces a tighter race with a 5-point gap from second place, while Pacific moves up from 5th to 4th. Despite their efforts, Ottawa couldn’t find a breakthrough against the West Coast team, underscoring Pacific’s strong defensive performance this year.

Ottawa kicked off the match strongly with an early cross into the box in the 4th minute by Dani Morer. The ball passed the face of goal, but with Zakaria Bahous tightly marking him, Gabriel Antionor failed to get his head to it, and Georges Mukumbilwa cleared the ball. Matteo de Brienne picked up the loose ball and struck from about 20 yards out, but Paul Amedume blocked it, and the pace of play calmed down.

Moments later, de Brienne thwarted a Pacific chance after Cédric Toussaint intercepted Luke Singh and set up Bahous’s run into the penalty area. Bahous took two touches before attempting a cross to Dario Zanatta, who dove to head it but was hindered by de Brienne’s defensive hold-off.

In the 14th minute, Ollie Bassett found Morer on the right, who flicked it centrally to Rubén Del Campo – he took a touch to control the ball but lost possession under Juan Quintana’s pressure. The ball was cleared by Sean Young, and ATO regained possession. With de Brienne back on the ball, he fired a shot from outside the box that was deflected on its way to Emil Gazdov, who went to his knees to grab it.  

A pivotal moment for Ottawa came in the 19th minute following a corner kick play; Zapater took possession of the ball and sent it into the visitor’s penalty area, where Luke Singh got his head to it. The ball soared towards the far post, and fans collectively gasped as Gazdov dived to his left to parry the ball away, disappointing the crowd. Atléti called on Gazdov once again only a minute later when de Brienne picked up a loose ball that was cleared off a corner by Toussaint and lofted it back into the box towards the center of goal, where Gazdoz jumped high to catch it.

Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

After a strong first half from Atléti, Pacific began to press for a goal. In the 37th minute, Steffen Yeates played a short ball up to Bahous, who quickly flicked it wide to Georges Mukumbilwa on the right flank. De Brienne attempted to intercept by lifting his heel behind him but inadvertently helped the ball onward to find Mukumbilwa at the touchline. The Pacific midfielder then carried the ball to the edge of the box and shot, but de Brienne’s quick defending blocked the strike, sending it high for Yesli to pick out of the air.

With the match deadlocked at 0-0, Pacific capitalized on an impressive run to score the lone goal of the game in the second minute of extra time, right after their own defensive mistake that required Gazdov to run up halfway out of his end to clear a ball, while pressured by Del Campo. Mukumbilwa advanced the ball out of his end, running up the touchline, and passed the ball to Bahous, who carried the ball up to the 18-yard line before striking and sinking the ball deep into the far bottom corner of the net past a diving Yesli, marking the first goal and Pacific’s first shot on target of the half.

With Pacific leading at halftime, Ottawa regained momentum firing 15 shots and earning several opportunities to equalize but struggled to finish in the second 45 minutes to steal back points. Their first opportunity came in the 52nd minute, when Samuel Salter took de Brienne’s pass up the line, beat Quintana, and carried it into the box before slipping it back to de Brienne running in on his right. Itching to secure his first goal in red-and-white, de Brienne shot from 4 yards out, but the ball was deflected and sent loose into the center – Makumbilwa volleyed it clear before Bassett could reach it.

Only a minute later, Zapater passed centrally to Manny Aparicio, who continued his run down the middle surrounded by purple. At the 18-yard line, Aparicio was tackled by Pierre Lamothe hot on his tail as Quintana slid in and dispossessed him. Despite calls for a foul, play continued, and another chance for Ottawa was thwarted.

Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

Luckily, the players persisted, determined to score, and saw the ball edge towards Pacific’s goal line in the 58th minute. Amer Didić positioned himself at the far post to receive a corner kick and headed the ball centrally to an unmarked Aparicio and Salter. Aparicio scissor-kicked it, and Gazdov got a hand to it, but the ball fell straight down and began rolling into Pacific’s net. However, Toussaint reacted quickly and hooked it away on the goal line, and Salter’s rebound shot was deflected out for a corner that saw no tangible outcome.

Atlético continued to test Gazdov, forcing him into a punching save in the 60th minute on a long-range shot by Del Campo and Bassett’s subsequent shot, followed by a shot from Kris Twardek from the right flank in the 68th that required Gazdov to dive and grab the ball before Morer could slide in and reach it.

Pacific, patient up to this point, were inches away from doubling their lead when Toussaint dispossessed Bassett and maneuvered around him and Zapater in minute 68th minute. Toussaint advanced to the penalty line and powered the ball into the crossbar, much to the relief of the fans at TD Place.

Ottawa dominated the visitor’s end in the last 10 minutes of play, fighting to equalize. First, Salter flicked the ball to de Brienne running upfield, and he laced a shot that went wide in the 81st minute. Then, the closest opportunity came three minutes later when Salter tapped a header from Didić towards Ballou Tabla. The Ottawa player controlled it and maneuvered around Sami Keshavarz and Quintana all the way to the byline, where he crossed it centrally. Now in the box, Salter got his head to the ball, sending it towards goal, but he got too far under it and sent it ricocheting off the crossbar. Del Campo attempted to get the rebound but slipped in the process, allowing Eric Lajeunesse room to clear the ball. In the 86th minute, Bassett swept a pass from Twardek into the area, but Gazdov dove forward to punch it away. Finally, in the 89th minute, Singh won a dangerous free kick in Pacific’s end that Bassett took, sending the ball deep into the penalty area. Gazdov managed to get his fingertips to it before Didić, Salter, Twardek, and Liberman Torres could reach it, sending it out for a corner.

With pressure mounting, fans were ecstatic and celebrated with de Brienne after the left-back won ATO a penalty kick in the 91st minute by catching Mukumbilwa’s arm on his cross into Pacific’s box. Bassett stepped up to take the pen, knowing he had the chance to change the game’s outcome and secure Ottawa at least one point. However, luck wasn’t on the team’s side, as Bassett’s shot soared over the goal, and purple jerseys crowded the penalty taker and gloated, displaying poor sportsmanship.

Pacific FC’s defense locked out Ottawa as they saw their second defeat of the season. While not the team’s best performance, two players stood out for their great passing, defensive actions, and duels won: Alberto Zapater and Matteo de Brienne. De Brienne also had several shots and won the crucial penalty kick that could have tied the game.

Photo Credit: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

Atlético Ottawa aims to rebound after a challenging stretch of games next against Vancouver FC on July 12th at 10 PM at Willoughby Community Park in Langley, British Columbia. Having tied 1-1 in their last encounter on May 12, Vancouver FC currently sit in third place and are vying to overtake York United for second, while Ottawa looks to learn from recent results to maintain their lead in the league. Come join the Capital City Supporters’ watch party at the Glebe Central Pub to cheer on Atlético Ottawa Friday night.

About the Author

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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