CCSG Player Rankings: Matchday 5 @ Vancouver FC

CCSG Player Rankings: Matchday 5 @ Vancouver FC

I’ve already used “The Facts of Life” theme song before to introduce one of these player ratings articles, so I’ll spare you all the repetition and simply say this game was frustrating. Managing only a draw from nearly 3 expected goals, while only surrendering ~.3 xG the other way, would drive most supporters up a wall. What concerned me most of all, however, was not the inability to take our chances. However, it was a midfield and defence that seemed quite disjointed in distribution which resorted to the attack being fed balls as if Sam Allardyce had spawned in on the touchline. The team has always relied on long balls to an extent, but they just could not figure out the right way to break down a slightly higher pressing line that Vancouver deployed, and this resulted in giveaways in the midfield or route 1 balls to whoever was furthest up the pitch. You can have these types of games every so often, but if you cannot break through with the chances you create, regardless of how they are created, it will catch up with you.

A football team on a green field

Description automatically generated

#19 Ruben Del Campo

(7.2): As of writing, Ruben Del Campo is still being credited with Atlético Ottawa’s goal in this game. I, personally, think that it may have been worthy of being an Own Goal, but everyone’s probably better off with Ruben getting the credit for his 5th in 4 starts. While not as effective in other parts of the game on Sunday as he had been against Valour, Ruben is continuing to lay claim to the starting striker spot as he continues to provide a good outlet for his teammates, creating 1 big chance on three total. His passing from the striker spot also is starting to impress as his 86% mark on Sunday is much improved from his average of 70% on the year. Should he have been able to convert the back heel he received from Tabla in the first half? Probably. But at the end of the day, Del Campo did what he needed to do, put the ball in the back of the net. That’s all we’ve been asking for from our strikers, and it’s nice to hear someone pick up the call.

#9 Samuel Salter

(NR): Even with the fixture congestion of the past few weeks, Sam Salter hasn’t been able to out an impressive enough performance that would make Carlos Gonzalez have a selection headache. In another limited run-out on Sunday, there were signs that he may be getting back to the level he needs to be to try and contest for more playing time. Notably in winning 3 of his 4 aerial duels, something that had been eluding him in large part through the end of last season. It’s always difficult to judge someone off ~15 minutes of work, but he must earn the playing time to be able to judge him off more than just that.

#10 Ollie Bassett

(6.9): We’re missing Kevin dos Santos. As a result of not having the Portuguese winger available, Ollie Bassett was slotted in on the left wing against Vancouver, and while he was able to generate play, he did not look his best self when forced out there. Part of that is his lack of a left foot, which made it easy for defenders to take away movement to the inside and force him wide. That said, off the ball Ollie made runs to find himself in the middle of the field, and that’s where he did a lot of his damage. A couple of key passes, a couple of chances created, and a missed big chance that eventually ended up in the back of the net through Ruben Del Campo, mark an unremarkable but still impactful game for the former player of the year. What we will need to see more from Ollie is on the defensive front, after a week in which he had been more successful than not in his duels, he lost 5 of 7 on Sunday and nearly gave away a glorious chance in the second half were it not for a questionable foul called on Vancouver right back Kadin Chung. It all boils down to this, though, just play him in the middle of the park Carlos, it’s where he does his best.

VFCvATO May 12 BChevalier
Photo © Beau Chevalier

#13 Ballou Tabla 

(6.6): Look, in the immediate aftermath of this game, I was just as frustrated as you. You can’t end up with 9 touches in the opponent’s box and only have 2 missed big chances to show for it. That said, he needs to be in a position to be able to miss those chances in the first place, and given the alternative that was 2023, at least we’re getting there. Trust me, I’m still frustrated about Ballou’s attitude on counterattacks. There were at least 3 instances on Sunday where he did what I’m dubbing the “Zack Morris” pause where he was kind of hoping everything would stop around him while he figured out the most precise way forward, and instead had to pass the ball all the way back to his defenders. That said, he did manage to force Anthony White to make the decisive giveaway in the build up to ATO’s lone goal. He needs to be able to play 90 minutes, though, these 60-minute shifts where he looks winded by the end are definitely playing a factor in his ability to be himself. A better Ballou means a better ATO, he just needs to get there.

#11 Gabriel Antinoro 

(6.3): After a couple of impressive appearances against Valour, Antinoro’s game against Vancouver was underwhelming to say the least. While he maintained the energy he had brought in the last few matches, the results were quite different. He managed to lose 7 of 9 duels in less than half an hour on the pitch while never really getting the ball at his feet to make a difference offensively besides a blocked shot. Additionally, he was beaten by Kadin Chung before the Vancouver right-back crossed the ball in for their equalizer. Any little bit of time towards the u21-minute threshold is an important step for the season. Gabi’s place is secure given the current availability on the roster, and he’s done more good than bad. I am still excited to see him whenever he steps on the pitch, all you can ask for from a young player.

#8 Dani Morer

(7): On the other side of the substitution spectrum comes Dani Morer. He looked to be our best player on the pitch after the changes that were made and generated plenty of forays into the Vancouver third. The statistics back this up as well. In only 26 minutes Morer won 7 of 8 duels, won a free kick, was successful in 3 of his 4 dribbles, and had 4 defensive actions while playing as the right winger. Whether or not this level of play is sustainable through 90 minutes is something still yet to be determined, but the impact he has had when coming on is palpable, regardless of what the stats say. On the pitch, he looks lively, and his timing is spot on for someone who integrated into the team after a full pre-season. It’s only a matter of time before he ends up starting and playing a full 90 minutes in my eyes, he’s been that effective.

VFCvATO May 12 BChevalier
Photo © Beau Chevalier

#34 Manny Aparicio 

(7.1): Manny gave the ball away a decent amount on Sunday, but when you do so much to recover in those positions and drive play elsewhere, it's hard not to forgive. 10 defensive actions and 10 recoveries, most of which were the lynchpin in preventing Vancouver from converting on the number of turnovers that Atlético committed. Sure 78% pass accuracy is below the standard you would want to see from Manny, but given how often he was on the ball, making a difference in winning 3 free kicks, having a 61% success rate in duels, and making 9 passes into the final third, again it’s something that can be forgiven. Without Ollie in the midfield alongside him, Aparicio’s role in driving the connection between midfield and attack is so much greater so the increase in touches and passes does not come as much of a surprise. The downside is when you’re on the ball that much, the mistakes are going to be amplified, and the more of them that come, the harder it will be to avoid conceding.

#33 Abou Sissoko 

(6.7): Sissoko’s presence in this team is still confusing me. I can tell he’s an effective player in the system, but he never really ascends past that in any respect. Perhaps that’s exactly what this team needs, a presence that may not ever be the best player on the pitch, but a solid hand that won’t make mistakes that single-handedly lose the game. 5 of 7 duels, with 3 free kicks won to 1 conceded are wonderful ratios to maintain. That said sub 80% accuracy on passes and only 38 touches the entire game from central midfield is a bit lower than you would want. It’s not nearly the low activity that Noah Verhoeven had last year, but if Sissoko could alleviate the weight from Aparicio’s shoulder in terms of possession in attack, it’d bring a little bit more balance to potentially open space for everyone else. Either that or shift him back to the pivot where he succeeded against Pacific and not have to worry about lower offensive activity, while also providing Zapater with a bit more rest.

#21 Alberto Zapater

(6.5): In another case of a player appearing to be worse at the moment than the reality reflects, Alberto Zapater’s performance felt behind the pace for much of Sunday, but it actually wasn’t as bad as we might have thought. The negative was definitely that Zapater only managed to win 2 of 6 duels, something he’s generally been quite adept at, and of those losses, a couple of those saw him swinging his feet wildly at a player that had already gone past him. Is the year spent on turf finally wearing him down, or is this just the natural consequence of Zapater being nearly 39 years old and accumulating over 700 professional games? At this rate, I think it’d be best if he saw a little less of the field. If Liberman Torres was supposed to be the rotation piece at that position, I definitely get why. The problem is Sissoko is the only other guy that can play there and do you really want to wear out your other three starting calibre midfielders just as much?

#22 Matteo de Brienne

(6.4): In what was the most baffling yellow card of the season, and that’s saying something given the state of officiating in this league, Matteo de Brienne closed off a fairly ineffective performance before being substituted for Maxim Tissot. He may have won more duels than he lost, but in looking at the stats, that’s the only real positive to glean. Only 55% accuracy on his passes, with no accurate crosses or long balls from left back is quite poor. No successful dribbles to make up for that and only winning 1 of 3 tackles serves only to compound the problem. Ultimately, de Brienne’s frustrating day is the byproduct of a frustrating day for the entire team. I think he’s bound to bounce back, because his first few weeks were pretty damn remarkable.

VFCvATO May 12 BChevalier
Photo © Beau Chevalier

#5 Luke Singh

(7): I’m bullish on Luke’s performance this week if only because he limited the giveaways that he’s normally prone to. I’d mostly pin that down to Vancouver being a bit more involved in their press, meaning Luke had less time to consider his options and start on one of his meandering runs forward. That really does seem like the issue, for when he has too much time on the ball, he takes the opportunity to go forward in a way that feels uncertain and as such is more prone to make a mistake with the ball given a lack of clear purpose. Defensively on Sunday he was a net positive as usual, winning more duels than he lost and winning multiple tackles, while not giving up a single free kick. The long ball rate hovered just under 50% once again, but it’s not a criminally low number, so I don’t think it has that much of an impact. Luke is starting to settle into his role well, and if he can continue to play this way without the mistakes on the ball, our defense is going to be quite calming.

#55 Amer Didic

(6.9): Didic’s weakest game for ATO so far came on Sunday. He wasn’t bad by any stretch, as defensively he continued to display his incredible range of motion and ability to cut out passes when needed. However, his passing has become very predictable as he looks to progress the ball out of defense, particularly when set up on the halfway line. There were several giveaways that were snuffed out by individual efforts from the rest of his defensive line on Sunday. The long ball accuracy hovering around 50% is indicative of the ability of his attackers to get on the ball as much as it is his ability to properly place long balls. Didic has been at a very high standard through the start of the season and for this performance to be a “disappointment” should speak to his overall quality in this league.

#23 Kris Twardek

(6.8): Everybody celebrate! Kris Twardek managed to avoid earning a yellow card in a Canadian Premier League match for the first time. Sure, his offensive presence was limited, 60% pass accuracy seems quite poor, but given he was 10/12 on non-crosses delivered the actions from that perspective are better than they may seem. Defensively however, he shut down most of what Vancouver tried down ATO’s right flank. 2 successful tackles, 6 defensive actions, and winning 7 of 11 duels while managing not to concede a single free kick (and winning three himself) is the mark of a true right back. Would it be nice for him to get a couple of better crosses, or finish a few more dribbles, yes. But right now, Twardek has been more than successful at the position we had all been deathly concerned about coming into the season.

#15 Maxim Tissot

(NR): Not much to say about Tissot other than he’s still eager to shoot from distance. Sometimes that’s the trigger that needs to be pulled, and right now he’s one of the few that’s willing to do it consistently.

#99 Rayane Yesli

(6.9): It’s such a luxury to have a second keeper the calibre of Rayane Yesli. With Nathan Ingham sidelined due to unknown circumstances, Yesli had to step in, and while he did not have much to do for the second game running, his presence was welcome. It’s beginning to be a question of whether or not Yesli becomes the de facto number one given how equal these two have been so far this season. The diving save on the Vancouver free kick early in the second half, and the subsequent save on the rebound were things I’d expect Ingham to manage just as well, but with Yesli being that much younger than our number one, what is the solution for getting both minutes through the rest of the campaign?

Rather than continue to ramble about the result, I’d much rather shine the spotlight on the other Atletico Ottawa adjacent result from yesterday. The affiliated Ligue1 Québec side OSU Atlético managed a triumphant 3-0 win over defending L1QC champions and 2024 Canadian Championship Quarter Finalists CS Saint-Laurent. A couple of shoutouts to those that have trained with the senior side, Omar Darwish and Loic Cloutier, who formed part of the defence that resiliently through CSSL’s constant pressure in the first half. Additionally, hats off to goalkeeper Nathan Frans, who had a handful of early saves from shots inside the eighteen to supplement the united defensive performance. Finally, a hearty congratulations to winger Adam N’Goran, whose second-half brace (within a matter of 3 minutes) sealed the victory for Atlético OSU, their first of the season. 

In going to several of their games last season, I had always been left wanting. This was a completely different attitude and approach, and the side looked together in ways that they did not show last year. Yes, a lot of roster turnover occurred, but these are the types of wins that build programs. Growing the sport in this city isn’t merely about the wins from the professional sides but making it so the identity permeates throughout the region. That we can see these types of wins, against the darlings of the Canadian soccer landscape these last couple weeks no less, means something more to what the future can hold with a professional side that is willing to invest its energy and resources in the community. Combine that with seeing our first youth players getting the opportunity to train in Madrid, and the future is bright for our burgeoning Soccer Capital.

About Patrick

Having joined CCSG in 2022, Patrick started his footie career playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros around the same time. While the first pro team he supported was Manchester United, as soon as Atlético Ottawa came to town, he was immediately on board. His wealth of footy knowledge has been a constant asset, along with his role as caretaker for Atléti Wikipedia pages.

Read more