Defensive wish Granted: Jonathan Grant joins Ottawa on 2-year deal

Defensive wish Granted: Jonathan Grant joins Ottawa on 2-year deal

Another surprise signing! After the complete blindside of Rayane Yesli last week, Fernando Lopez and company have done it again, this time with the announcement of Jonathan Grant signing to a 2-year contract that runs through 2025. The 30-year-old native of Pickering, Ontario, has played in the CPL since its inception, beginning with a four-year stint with Forge FC, where he won three CPL Cups. Most recently, he spent the 2023 campaign with York United.

If one had their ear to the ground, this move wasn’t completely unforeshadowed. Northern Tribune published an article last week detailing the fact Grant was to make an intra-CPL move this offseason, however they didn’t specify where. When questioned, he was effusive in detailing why he felt the draw to join Atlético Ottawa: “Being even with York last year and speaking to the players that have come through, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the staff, the facility, I’ve been told personally that it is one of the best run clubs in this league, so obviously that catches your interest, and its something I think I can really benefit from. Obviously the fans here are great, so that’s another big element.”

While rumblings came in the past week about Grant remaining in the CPL, the move to ATO has been in the works for a while. He elaborated on the process of signing with ATO, which began “Very early into the offseason, last season, my agent reached out, and I met with both Fernando and Coach here, and they were very adamant from the start of the offseason on their plans for next year and who they wanted to execute those plans. And They made it clear they were adamant they wanted me here and part of the team.” 

One concern fans may have about ATO’s newest signing is his injury history. Over the course of his five year CPL career, Grant has only made 59 appearances, less than half of all games his clubs have played in that span. Most extreme was his 2022 campaign, in which he only played 6 games when he picked up an injury that kept him out of a massive portion of the middle of the season. More recently, he played 16 games in 2023, to the tune of 1000 minutes. However, he was very positive about what Atleti fans can expect from him this season and going forwards. In discussing how to prevent injury, he said “it starts in the Offseason or even before that. I think last year with York was even a big step towards the right direction, in terms of previous years in the cpl, a lot less injuries last year and moreso injuries that are out of your control like facial fracture, concussion, and not the muscle injuries I’ve dealt with in the past. ”

Although beset by injury, Grant has been a dynamic player when healthy. This translates to his position as well, where he has clocked stints at Right Back, Centre Back, and even Right Midfield on occasion. Most recently he played a majority of his games at Right Back for York United, and that is where ATO have the most need of him in 2024. When discussing the defense for 2024, “I think looking at previous seasons with Atletico Ottawa, defense is one of the important principles in the structure. I think they’ve brought in players to strengthen that but also brought in players this year that will help relieve some of that pressure off the defence.” 

Jonathan Grant provides an excellent veteran option on the back end for Atlético Ottawa, and continues a trend of strong signings for Fernando this offseason. It also is a positive step on the defensive front, who haven’t had the blockbuster signings that the offense has had thus far. However there are sure to be more to come, with a few spots in the XI and on the bench yet to be filled. The current roster stands at 17 (of 23 slots), with the contract options of Malcolm Shaw, Zachary Roy, and Zach Verhoven still to be announced.

About Jon

Jon Hopkins is a fresh face on the pro-football fandom scene, being introduced it through Atlético Ottawa and the CPL. He grew up playing the beautiful game through his high school years in the Niagara Region. He has worked to support the growth of footie in Ottawa with CCSG since 2022 and now acts as the lead editor for the Writers at CCSG.

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