Fans in Seventh Heaven after Atlético Ottawa Capture Historic Win

Fans in Seventh Heaven after Atlético Ottawa Capture Historic Win

In what was the most electrifying 90 minutes played to date by Atlético Ottawa, fans at TD place were elated to see the red-and-white stripes take home another historic win, this time against Winnipeg’s Valour FC.

Atlético Ottawa faced the Manitobans on Wednesday, May 1st in the knockout round of the TELUS Canadian Championship, where they became the first club in Canadian Championships history to score seven goals and win by a seven-goal margin, breaking the previous record held by Montreal Impact for their win against Toronto FC in 2013.

This incredible feat by the nation’s capital team was the best we’ve seen the men play so far this season; Ottawa appeared the stronger of the two teams from the moment the visitors kicked off the match.

The home team saw one early mistake, when defenders Amer Didić and Luke Singh, sitting a bit too far up the field, allowed Noah Verhoeven to send the ball forward to Shaan Hundal, who anticipated the breakaway, forcing Rayane Yesli out of his box for a slide tackle that saw the ball to safety in the 3rd minute of the match. However, the team didn’t let the error faze them, and after an early shooting opportunity for the 2023 Golden Boot Winner Ollie Bassett in the 7th minute, the Englishman secured the first goal, and the 1-0 lead for Ottawa, in the 14th minute. The goal was the product of a penalty kick awarded for a foul Abdou Samaké made on Matteo de Brienne, which resulted in head injuries for both players. The call came moments after a cross from de Brienne ricocheted off Valour’s Jordan Haynes, which sent the ball airborne allowing Del Campo to get under it and send it directly into the crossbar, for the first shot on net. Samaké was unfortunately subbed off early due to his injury and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Photo © Phil Larivière

Arguably, the game-changing moment happened in the 30th minute when Alberto Zapater, situated at the top corner of the 6-yard box, got his head on Maxim Tissot’s corner kick and sent the ball deep into the far corner of the frame, marking his first goal for the club. Ottawa was quick to capitalize on this momentum and confidence and swiftly sank two subsequent goals, giving Atlético a massive 4-0 lead.

Seconds after the Spaniard had brought the home team up by two points, de Brienne intercepted a pass meant for the visitor’s Dante Campbell and sent it forward to a sprinting Rubén Del Campo. Del Campo beat the defender Samaké and goalkeeper Darlington Murasiranwa to sneak the ball inside the far post, securing his second goal for the club and third of the match.

Valour, now losing grip of the game, conceded a fourth goal six minutes later to a header by the veteran Spaniard. Ollie Bassett sent a corner towards the back post, forcing Murasiranwa out of his net, but he was beaten by Didić who was able to head the ball towards Zapater at the front post. The defensive midfielder tapped the ball in for back-to-back goals, and a lead of 4-0.

Both Ottawa and Winnipeg had one last chance to gain points in the half. First, in the 41st minute, Del Campo shot from the top of the box and was denied by a split save from Murasiranwa. Then, in the 45th minute, Themi Antonoglou crossed the ball into Ottawa’s penalty area to meet Abdul Binate, who dove and headed the ball into the crossbar and over the net.

Atlético Ottawa were not finished proving their strength and kicked off the second half with tenacity.

They had two early shots on target denied by Valour, the first from Ballou Tabla taken at the 18-yard line, and the second from Zapater, who was gifted the ball at his feet off a punch by the goalkeeper.

Valour also had a chance in the 62nd minute, when Campbell got his head on a corner kick, but with no power to his play, Yesli made an easy catch.

Atlético then stretched their lead by three additional points in the span of six minutes. Manny Aparicio fed Tabla the ball, where he snuck in on Haynes’ left, which gave Tabla room to send the ball into the net in the 63rd minute. Then, two minutes later, the goal scorer executed the perfect assist to Bassett, who was wide open in the center of the 6-yard box and, using his right foot, tapped the ball into the top of the net, over the outstretched arm of Murasiranwa.

Del Campo, wanting in on the double-goals club, dove the ball deep into the back post in the 69th minute. This goal was not possible without the help of substitutes Samuel Salter and Gabriel Antinoro, the first of whom kept a cross from Bassett alive at the byline and, down on the turf with Antonoglou jumping over him to block the pass, got his foot on the ball a second time to send it into the center of the 6-yard box, where Antinoro flicked the ball to the Gatorade Performance of the Match recipient’s feet for the goal.

Photo © Phil Larivière

Down 7-0, Valour attempted a few more chances on net, but either failed to get their feet to the ball or sent weak shots in for an easy save by Yesli. Their closest opportunity came in the 74th minute, when Antonoglou chased the ball forward and sent a cross behind Ottawa’s defensive line. Yesli dove down to stop the ball but wasn’t quick enough. Luckily, Tyr Duhaney-Walker used his body to prevent Verhoeven and Jordan Swibel from getting a stretched-out leg on the shot, and the ball rolled past frame and was walked out by Kris Twardek. With the final whistle blown, Atlético secured their first clean sheet of the season.

It’s difficult to find critiques for a team that performed so incredibly well and that was synchronized on the pitch. The repeated mistakes from previous matches were nearly non-existent and the players looked like an end-of-season team. This isn’t to say they were perfect, as for example, a communication issue in the 28th minute saw Del Campo and Tabla get tangled up, both going for an upward pass from Aparicio, and there were far more incomplete passes near the end of the match, when they were readjusting due to substitutions.

That said, I cannot knock a team that just won 7-0. Carlos Gonzàlez gave the fans exactly what has been asked of him, which was fast, exciting, attacking football. Ottawa played much higher up the pitch, they found their crosses, and they had great positioning enabling them more space for seamless passing. Each of the 11 bodies on the field brought drive, perseverance, passion, energy, and teamwork and for this reason, I don’t have a stand-out of the match. If they can continue to reproduce these results we saw on Wednesday week-in and week-out, then Altéti is about to freeze the competition out of the top of the league table.  

Photo © Phil Larivière

Ottawa advances to the Quarter Finals of the Telus Canadian Championship, where they’ll face off against Pacific FC, who scraped a win over TSS Rovers in a penalty shootout after Pacific scored a late-game goal in the 8th minute of added time to tie their match. The Quarter Finals will be a two-part series, the first taking place on May 8th at TD Place, where the winner will be decided based on the aggregated scores of both games.

In the meantime, Atléti plays Valour FC once again this Sunday, May 5th at 2 pm on home soil, where the Manitobans are surely seeking revenge for a deflating loss Wednesday night. We hope to see you at TD Place for what is sure to be an electrifying re-match.

About C.D.

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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