CCSG Player Ratings: Game 11 @ Cavalry FC

CCSG Player Ratings: Game 11 @ Cavalry FC

At the end of the day, a draw against a tough Cavalry side at ATCO Field is nothing to hang our heads about. That said, had the performance of the first 15 or so minutes continued, we would have found ourselves lucky to be even remotely close to Cavs. Luckily, ATO was able to work themselves into the game, and started to play well in the second half. Unfortunately, that continues to develop a trend where the team is not able to start the game in second gear and take it to the opposition from the first whistle. This is less of a problem away from, where draws are more often than not a good result to take, but this approach is starting to seep in at TD Place, and given our late season struggles at home the past two seasons it may be a concern that manifests into something akin to a panic. Regardless, there were positives to take from Friday night, alongside a fair few negatives. Here’s how I saw it play out: 

A football team schedule on a green field

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#19 Ruben Del Campo

(6.8): Ruben’s first assist of the year was an absolute peach of a ball. He put the perfect weight on it to let Zapater do whatever he needed to direct it goalwards. These little moments more often than not will stick out to people, particularly given the rest of his first half felt very uneventful to that point. He picked it up in the second half, as most of the team did, but never truly felt like a threat to the Cavalry goal at any point, even though his shot from about 8 yards out was very well taken given the pressure he was under. In that particular instance, there were just too many Cavalry defenders between him and the goal to really believe the ball was going to find the back of the net. The rotation of strikers over the last couple of weeks has halted the momentum Ruben had been building through May, with Carlos resolving to start Salter ahead of him when Sam scored in his substitute appearances. The well certainly hasn’t dried up for Ruben as I think it’s more that he’s not getting the same service he was only a few weeks ago. That said, in his two league starts since he last scored, he’s won a penalty and found an assist. He’s contributing while playing well when he does lead the line, and that’s what you need from a striker who isn’t scoring.

#9 Samuel Salter

(NR): Bar winning a free kick on a Charlie Trafford handball, nothing from Sam Salter’s eight minutes on the pitch was particularly memorable. Considering my consternation about some of his performances in the past, this isn’t really a bad thing.

#13 Ballou Tabla 

(6.6): Nothing is a better representation of Ballou Tabla’s 2024 season than his chance in the 24th minute. He takes the ball down exceptionally, makes a good decision to switch it onto his left to get around the defender, takes an unnecessary touch onto his right, and then slips, firing a harmless shot towards Marco Carducci. It has been a challenge to evaluate Ballou’s performances within this context as I try desperately to avoid purely basing these ratings on output, while still evaluating that aspect fairly as a part of an entire performance. 

Complicating matters further is something that was pointed out with respect to his body language following Atlético Ottawa’s goal. It appeared that he may have collided uncomfortably with a Cavalry defender in the run up to the goal, but he was still holding his jaw in the middle of the 18-yard box as the rest of the team went to celebrate in the corner. That visual suggests there’s a disconnect between him and the rest of the team, or his own frustration is weighing on him too heavily. I’ll stop trying to play armchair sports psychologist there and leave it by saying there were good moments for Ballou in this game in and amongst the concerning ones. I’m still convinced that he desperately needs a rest, because it’s clear that whatever is plaguing his mind is not something that he can just play through.

21-06-2024 - Canadian Premier League - CAV FC v ATL FC - Calgary, Alberta, Canada  Midfielder Fraser Aird of CAV FC handles the ball in front of midfielder Ollie Bassett of ATL FC. CFC Media\ Mike Sturk
Photo © CPL (Bart Onyszko)

#10 Ollie Bassett

(6.8): The fact that the only big chance created in the first half for Atlético Ottawa came off an Ollie Bassett corner is a sweet bit of irony given the rampant discourse regarding who should be taking set pieces. Ollie also seemed to be studying his Toni Kroos game tape from the first two matchdays of the Euros, given how often he dropped in between the two centre backs to pick up possession on a number of occasions to try and solve a Cavalry press that gave ATO some trouble early in the first half. Prior to his substitution, that tactic seemed to be working well for ATO as there were more progressive passes being made through the Cavalry lines, and attackers were hungrier to get into advanced positions in the final third. Nothing about this performance particularly stood out otherwise. The interesting thing going forward will be seeing how getting substituted in the 66th minute will impact the former Player of the Year. We have seen in the past some demonstrative body language when things aren’t going his way, and I hope that won’t have an impact on what has been a successful season thus far.

#8 Dani Morer

(NR): Much like Sam Salter, the brief cameo from Dani Morer did not really produce anything of note. What’s intriguing is that he swapped wings with Gabi Antinoro, playing out on the left rather than the right, where he’s been quite effective off the bench in previous appearances. Getting more comfortable out on the left would provide additional support in a position that hasn’t been getting the output we would have hoped at the start of the season.

#11 Gabriel Antinoro 

(6.5): Coming off the bench, Gabi found himself in dangerous positions a number of times in the waning minutes of the game, including in one instance taking the ball from the Cavalry defender and turning it into a half break. The execution wasn’t there in the key moments from the young midfielder, but his hunger and energy are certainly still present in the actions he takes. Once the execution gets to where it needs to be the mentality he has will carry him quite far, but that level needs to develop sooner rather than later.

#34 Manny Aparicio 

(7.3): The last couple of weeks I’ve spoken about how even though Manny Aparicio is incredibly active in challenging in the midfield, his success rate in those duels is often below 50%. This makes a game like Friday night for Manny all the more incredible. A 66% win rate on ground duels while taking 15 over the course of the game, combined with five successful tackles of eight, demonstrates a control over the midfield that prevented Cavalry from continuing to take opportunities following their early goal. Yes, this much activity did result in the four times he was dribbled past, but I would much rather an advanced midfielder look to get involved in this way to try and create chances going forward, as opposed to playing passively to avoid making mistakes. With six passes into the final third, and two key passes - one coming after a dribble in the final third to lay Abou Sissoko in for a decent opportunity - he generated offensive output from his defensive activity. It’s hard to argue that anyone but Manny has been the best player on this team in 2024.

#33 Abou Sissoko 

(6.7): Another soli performance from Abou Sissoko demonstrates that shifting him to right back for the game against York was likely the wrong move. He had arguably the best chance of the second half for Atlético Ottawa when his shot was blocked away for a corner, and his run in behind flared a dangerous ball across goal that, unfortunately, neither Ruben Del Campo nor Ballou Tabla could get a foot to. I have at times maligned Sissoko for his inability to put it all together from an execution standpoint, particularly in the final third, but he looked much calmer and more effective in those areas of the pitch on Friday, above and beyond the cited examples. To me, Sissoko is still #4 on the depth chart in midfield, but that is a pretty fantastic problem to have. If he keeps turning in performances with above average passing displays and just average defensive play, I won’t be mad to see him get the starting nod.

21-06-2024 - Canadian Premier League - CAV FC v ATL FC - Calgary, Alberta, Canada  midfielder Alberto Zapater of ATL FC celebrates after scoring a first half goal. CFC Media\ Mike Sturk
Photo © CPL (Bart Onyszko)

#21 Alberto Zapater

(7.2): The guile required to be in the position Alberto Zapater was in when he scored his fifth goal in all competitions is one acquired through the years of experience he’s obtained, and a little bit of inexperience on the part of the Cavalry defence. The header, however, was pure class, as all five of his goals this season have been. It was perfectly placed in the bottom corner, leaving Marco Carducci helpless as he dove to his left. With Ollie dropping between the centre backs in this game, Zapater had chances to push himself further forward than he normally does, and his touch map reflects some of that action. His distribution was sublime as usual, with 92% pass accuracy and 80% on long balls. Defensively Zapater was his usual self, winning three of four tackles, five of eight duels, and, as important as always, avoiding a yellow card. That he provided this impact in a game where Atlético did not look comfortable in the first half, and Zapater having been substituted after 66 minutes, is the cherry on top. Alberto is still a key member of the team, no doubt, but the team can still look comfortable without him on the pitch and it shows in how he’s been able to impart his wisdom to the rest of the midfield.

#6 Liberman Torres:

(7): Liberman Torres’ first extended appearance in the position Carlos Gonzalez feels he is most natural showed why Carlos is right to have him in holding midfield. 11 completed passes and two successful tackles in instances where Cavalry were trying to mount attacks late are fantastic examples of what Liberman can do at his best. That being said, there were instances in and amongst these successful moments that show he still has to grow within the team, and to adapt to the league as a whole. The prime example of this was the yellow card he picked up in the dying seconds of the game, something that maybe doesn’t get a reprimand elsewhere but isn’t the biggest of deals - yet.. Still, the ability he’s demonstrated in the middle of the park now means we have five players I would consider myself confident in if they lined up in our midfield three. That sort of depth means a lot in this league, and while it might not exist in other positions, at least we have it somewhere.

21-06-2024 - Canadian Premier League - CAV FC v ATL FC - Calgary, Alberta, Canada  attacker Tobias Warschewski of CAV FC makes a shot on goal past defender Matteo de Brienne of ATL FC. CFC Media\ Mike Sturk
Photo © CPL (Bart Onyszko)

#22 Matteo de Brienne

(7.2): Only Manny Aparicio has consistently impressed me more than Matteo de Brienne this season. The left side of the pitch was the biggest concern for me last season, and while the attacking side hasn’t entirely been figured out, Matteo has solidified himself at left back and continues to provide in all three phases of the game. Some will point to his seasonal pass accuracy - which presently stands at 75% -  as a point of concern, but given he is at left back, the types of passes he is required to make are generally more incisive or carry a greater risk of giving away given the limited space down the wing. He is still averaging one key pass per game despite that accuracy number, and is more than making up for whatever giveaways occur in his work defensively. Despite having a worse than average day in the air on Friday, he was able to win ground duels at a far higher rate than average, with seven other defensive actions. The only iffy moment I recall from him was on a cross in the second half where he got caught trying to recover the ball and left Tobias Warschewski wide open at the back post, the one player you’d least like to get a chance in that position for Cavalry. Matteo is essentially undroppable at this point, and I shudder to think what happens if he gets a suspension for yellow card accumulation.

#5 Luke Singh

(6.7): After last week’s performance Luke Singh putting on a solid, unmemorable performance in defense is exactly what he needed. Could he have put us ahead on the stroke of halftime, yes, and to miss a header at the back post like that is incredibly unfortunate. That being said, Malcolm Shaw hanging off him like a backpack may have had something to do with his inability to get clean contact on that corner. Defensively, there aren’t any stats to really point to Luke being a standout in any regard. Luke not getting to the ball that would eventually find its way into the back of the net on the initial header from Malcolm Shaw is a missed opportunity to clear the danger for sure, but the goal comes more as a result of good set-piece design from Cavs than anything poorly executed by the ATO defence. Luke is prone to have a lapse once in a while, but these seem to be becoming less frequent over the course of this season. It’s a testament to the progress he’s made in the last year and a half here, and hopefully that progress continues.

#55 Amer Didic

(6.8): Much like Luke, nothing about Didic’s game this week particularly stood out through the 90 minutes. Looking back on the stats however, a 100%-win rate in the five duels he contested is definitely something of note. Didic’s win rates in duels have been very consistent over the course of the year, with a 71% success rate, and this has been a big factor in why ATO is standing atop the table after 11 match weeks. It’s difficult to point to much of anything from him in this game, as he continued to fulfill his role in distribution, playing enough successful long balls to challenge the Cavalry back line and ensuring that there were no catastrophic errors in distributing as ATO recycled possession. Amer Didic has been a rock in the backline, and there’s nothing to suggest he will do anything else for the rest of the season.

#23 Kris Twardek

(6.8): There had been some rumblings from Bohemians fans at the start of the season about Kris Twardek’s propensity to try too many stepovers when trying to beat his man down the wing. It is still a little funny to see him pull those stepovers out on defenders, and it hasn’t quite come off as a way to consistently beat the fullbacks and wingers he matches up with down the right. As for this game, it was Twardek that lost Warschewski on the rebound for the Cavalry goal, as he got caught up on Malcolm Shaw who made the initial header and Tobias made a good run to get away from the right back. As I mentioned previously, I think this is more down to good design on the set piece from Cavs than it was on Twardek for losing his man, though that is still an issue. In terms of distribution one for three on crosses, and one for six on long balls has to improve significantly, as we are starting to get back to the point where the crosses from our wingers and wing back don’t pose a genuine threat.

#29 Nathan Ingham

(7.2): On a couple of occasions this game, Nathan Ingham played long balls directly at Cavs players at the halfway line, and I thought we would pay for it on each occasion. Fortunately, Cavs didn’t make us suffer for the giveaways and Ingham remained strong in goal. There could be an argument that Ingham should have been able to catch the Malcolm Shaw header that rebounded right to Tobias Warschewski, but I won’t gripe about it too much  as I think that it would be too harsh on Ingham. He made three other saves over the course of the game, the biggest being against Warschewski as he was free at the back post. This game was a very good one from Ingham but was still plagued by the issues I spoke about ad nauseum last season. We have a 1A and 1B in goal, and it’ll be interesting to see how Carlos González manages that through the second half of the campaign.

This latest result marks Cavalry’s eighth draw of the campaign, and as such they remain unbeaten at home. For Atlético Ottawa, they manage to retain their unbeaten record away from home in the Canadian Premier League and keep a five point lead atop the standings. This sublime away form was the reason for the club’s regular season triumph in 2022, and through 11 games they are replicating that success. Presently, they have earned more than double the amount of points of their nearest competitor away from home, with the most goals scored and the fewest conceded as well. We can lament the inability of the team to come out firing on all cylinders, but Carlos González has been able to get results away from home just as he did in 2022. The process is something we can question, but so far this season, the results have come regardless. Here’s hoping the process is refined so the results never become a question.

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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