CCSG Player Rankings: Matchday 6 @ Pacific FC

CCSG Player Rankings: Matchday 6 @ Pacific FC

Any three points away from home should be celebrated as the gift they are. Given the circumstances of this particular game, some may come out of it disappointed that Atlético Ottawa were not able to put their foot on the throat of their opponents and end up with a more comfortable scoreline, particularly given the chance Pacific had in injury time of the second half. I instead will choose to see the circumstances as one where a 1-0 result is ultimately a good thing. For lack of a better term, the turf played very weird on Friday night. There were a lot of strange bounces as Atlético Ottawa players overhit passes or made crucial interceptions only for the ball to ricochet back to the feet of a Pacific player. This was by no means a perfect performance, and while I thank Carlos Gonzalez for slightly decreasing my workload for this recap, I am still unsure whether I agree with his assessment that the XI on the field for the bulk of the second half could have put together a second goal without any changes. 

#19 Ruben Del Campo

(7.3): He. Can’t. Stop. Scoring. Every single one of Ruben Del Campo’s starts has seen him find the back of the net this season, and while it would be difficult to imagine anyone maintaining that pace for the rest of the season, it’s certainly the best stretch of goalscoring form that any striker has had for Atlético Ottawa. The finish itself was an exquisite bit of power from a difficult angle that, while Gazdov did manage to get a finger to it, still rattled in off the post. The finishing ability is extending to the rest of his game as well, as he’s connecting well with the rest of the attack and midfield and holding the ball up well when corralling long goal kicks. Yeah, he might have only gone 4/13 on aerial duels in this game, but the success in maintaining his dribbles and being able to make key passes regardless is the sign of a striker who’s both doing his job and contributing in other ways. 

#9 Samuel Salter

(NR): Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t impressed by the Sam Salter cameo on Friday night. The same issues that have plagued him all season have continued to manifest. However, I do want to cut him the slightest bit of slack, because the bounces he got when he was successful in retaining possession were somehow more horrific than many of the other bad bounces ATO had in the middle of the park. That said, you do have to make your own luck, and when nothing you can control is going your way, the stuff you can’t control will follow in kind.

Photo © CPL Photos

#10 Ollie Bassett

(6.8): In one sense, you probably would want the player who went 2 for 12 in ground duels to be playing in a more attacking position, if only to limit potential breaks from the opposition. In another, do you really want your best creator to be playing as an inverted winger while also essentially being forced to mark the opponent’s fastest player? It’s a genuine wonder why the plan for Ollie Bassett this season has manifested in the way that it has. It is a testament to his quality that he still manages to make somewhat of an impact offensively despite not having been regularly deployed in the middle of the pitch. Given how much I criticized him at the end of last season for his attitude on the pitch, I want to commend him for how it has improved so far this season. Not losing in your first 8 games will do that for you, but even in difficult moments he’s still showing a better head, and as such, putting forward better performances despite the circumstances. 

#13 Ballou Tabla 

(6.7): All you can ask from a player is that they improve after a subpar performance, and not let something like that get to their head. While he may not have had the distinct, clear-cut chances that he had last week, Ballou Tabla looked slightly more in tune with the rest of the lineup and looked far livelier than he has been at any point this season. Defensively, he also worked back and made some important challenges, namely a clean tackle on Steffen Yeates inside his own 18-yard box. He won half of his ground duels and won 3 free kicks in the attacking third for Atlético Ottawa, including the one that led to Ollie Bassett’s first chance at goal from a sharp angle. Despite no shots on target and no key passes, this is still the first real glimpse of the Ballou of 2022 we’ve seen so far. Building on this and being as lively as he can be going forward will produce the results we’re all anticipating.

#22 Matteo de Brienne

(6.5): Matteo may have been the one that got the worst of the bounces in the middle third for Atletico Ottawa in his substitute appearance. A number of instances in the final stretch of this game saw him come up with a loose ball only for it to go and end up at the feet of a Pacific player. His one-shot opportunity flew harmlessly over the goal, and his passing still wasn’t quite at the level we want it to be in terms of creating danger for the opponent to curtail. Matteo definitely has the quality to be a game-breaker for ATO, but he hasn’t quite done it to this point.

#8 Dani Morer

(NR): Dani Morer was the one player I wanted to see come on the pitch just that little bit earlier. Especially after the young Greco-Taylor picked up a yellow card with no substitutes remaining for Pacific, if only to challenge the 19-year-old to be at his absolute best with a player of Morer’s technical ability going directly against him. Part of me really wants to see Morer start against Forge, but I’m not entirely sure in place of whom. Perhaps in place of Sissoko, putting Ballou back to the left wing and Ollie into the middle of the park?

#34 Manny Aparicio 

(7.6): I talked a lot last year about how Noah Verhoeven was a low-activity player. Manny Aparicio is the exact opposite of that. He is everywhere on the pitch, somehow at the same time. He gets stuck into every tackle he attempts, and while he does give away his fair share of fouls in the middle of the park, the ability to recover the ball is paramount to this team’s success in the final third. Getting into 21 duels over the course of the match is nuts, and you only do that if you are confident you can win more than you lose, which of course Manny did. But more than that, he had 3 of 4 successful dribbles, made 6 tackles, and was everywhere on the pitch. It is a joy to be able to watch him do this for Atlético Ottawa now and not for other CPL teams - you don’t need goal contributions when you’re doing this every time you step on the pitch.

#33 Abou Sissoko 

(6.3): The other side of the coin to Manny’s performance in midfield was that of Abou Sissoko. It wasn’t all bad, as off the ball Sissoko had a pretty effective 60 or so minutes. He made a couple of interceptions, won more duels than he lost, and was able to be a nuisance in support of Kris Twardek against Josh Heard. However, he was quite poor when the ball was at his feet. The 2 of 7 success rate on dribbles is the most telling stat for the impact he had offensively, but I don’t think it can be understated how little of the ball he saw outside of those dribbles. Only 13 attempted passes in 60+ minutes on the pitch is wild for the role that Sissoko is playing in the middle of the park. More than that was the way those offensive interactions ended; with the one adventure he took having the ball go harmlessly past the byline as he looked around for something to do with it - most emblematic of the struggles he’s had offensively. Maybe he needs to slot back as the DM or maybe he just needs to rework his mindset, but something’s not quite right in Sissoko’s game and there are others chomping at the bit to replace him.

#21 Alberto Zapater

(6.8): Earlier this season I thought I was focusing too heavily on some of the instances where Alberto Zapater was being left behind by opposition players in the midfield. That he was dribbled past 4 times Friday night means that maybe my concerns were not as misplaced as I had previously assumed. Zapater’s usual defensive standards were not met in this game, as he was only successful on 3 of his 11 duels and gave away 3 free kicks with only one being a foul that was in any way necessary. Offensively, I think he distributed the ball quite well, with his long balls being generally accurate and the calmness he brought being welcome in the midfield. I still do think we need to be watching his minutes carefully as the season wears on, and if Liberman Torres ever does show up, maybe we can make sure that our elder statesman is still good to go in the stretch run.

#11 Gabriel Antinoro 

(NR): Not much to take from a player who was on the pitch for all of about a hundred seconds, but I love it when a young player takes the ball to the corner to protect a lead rather than try and do too much late on. His maturity as a player is taking hold this year, and there’s only more to come for the young man.

Photo © CPL Photos

#15 Maxim Tissot

(6.7): Back on the scoresheet from his assist for the Del Campo goal, Max Tissot’s performance Friday night was more reminiscent of his past couple of years than the rest of this season. This year he had been very solid and almost unwilling to take too many chances going forward - at least until last game. Perhaps it was because Ollie Bassett was playing ahead of him rather than Matteo De Brienne, but Tissot looked determined to be more attacking in the first half than he really had been all season. The success of that is up for debate, yes he did manage the assist on the goal, but he also did not have a single successful dribble and only one successful cross. Defensively, he did manage 4 tackles, and won more duels than he lost, but still felt like he was giving Kunle Dada-Luke and Andreas Tircoveanu too much room to work in spaces down our left flank. With the rest of the team being on a higher level this year, it’s probably fine to have these types of Tissot performances once in a while. But that’s all they can be, once in a while. 

#5 Luke Singh

(7): His yellow card was pretty unnecessary, and it’s a really unfortunate one for your centre back to take. Aside from that, Luke Singh was the best version of himself in the middle of the Atlético Ottawa defence. He dealt well in moments where the numbers ahead of him were unable to put a good foot forward, and that resulted in 5 clearances and a couple of tackles. His tendency to lose more of his aerial duels than he wins has popped up again, but given how few of those he contests in a game it’s not likely to be a problem. Offensively, Luke improved on the one thing everyone has known he needs to improve upon, his long balls. A 10/14 success rate is exactly the type of thing this team needs to provide threats offensively, and while that high a rate may unsustainable, getting close will be what’s needed from our centrebacks moving forward - especially if we keep taking leads and are looking to hit more on the counterattack.

#55 Amer Didic

(7.1): Asidehe one mistake at the end to set Dario Zannatta free, Didic was equally as solid as his partner in the middle of the Atlético Ottawa defence. The aerial duel issue that Singh has does not play a factor for Didic at all, as he 4 of 5 contested in the match on Friday. Minimal defensive actions outside of those duels is a sign of decent team defence, with the last line not needing to bail out a crumbling wide area or interior midfield. The one downside you could point to is his pass accuracy falling to 80%. Part of that is due to a number of long balls going wayward, despite still being >50% successful on the whole, but given how our centre backs play the ball, a couple of unnecessary giveaways against a more lethal side may prove fatal. Still, his return to Starlight was successful given the clean sheet was kept and Didic walked away without picking up a yellow card. 

#23 Kris Twardek

(6.8): Similar to Abou Sissoko, Twardek finished this game with 2 successful dribbles on 7 attempts. Additionally, Twardek provided 7 wins in duels, also the same as Sissoko, with a similar offensive impact. Why these stats don’t tell the whole story is that Twardek’s ability to hold Josh Heard in place and render him largely ineffective was key to Atlético Ottawa being able to maintain a relative level of comfort throughout the game in the defensive third. I also won’t lie, not picking up a yellow card for a second game running is a bit of why the rating is bumped up. Twardek learning what he can and can’t get away with is always going to be necessary, and now that he has, he can hopefully put off the impending suspension as long as possible.

Photo © CPL Photos

#99 Rayane Yesli

(6.9): Just looking at the statistics would suggest that Rayane Yesli had staked his claim to the number one spot for Atlético Ottawa. The one thing that is giving me a bit of pause with respect to doing so is the little things, like his positioning on the last chance for Pacific. He made that far more complicated than he needed to by giving as much space to the near post as he did. That he was able to get a hand to it and prevent the late equaliser speaks to his reflexes and height, but also to his faults as a keeper. Still, to have him and Nathan available is a luxury truly unmatched in the rest of the CPL, no matter how much confidence other sides may have in their second goalkeeper. 

That Atletico are unbeaten in our first 8 matches to start the season, and in 9 consecutive games if you want to go back to the final match of 2023, is a great feeling to have. This felt more like a classic ATO win than some of the others this season, but good teams need to be able to find different ways to win games throughout the season, and any 3 points claimed away from home is massive towards claiming success this season. It will be interesting to see how this team lines up against Forge given that Kevin dos Santos may be available based on comments from Carlos Gonzalez, and if Ollie Bassett is going to make another appearance outside of the middle of the park. We’ve never beaten Forge at TD Place, but we said the same thing for York at the beginning of this year. Fortunes change, and maybe we’ll be on the good side of it once again.

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.

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