The Forward Press: Atleti Show ‘Personality, Maturity’ in Win at Valour

The Forward Press: Atleti Show ‘Personality, Maturity’ in Win at Valour

Atlético Ottawa continue to put the ‘Win’ in Winnipeg this season after defeating Valour FC for the third straight time this season. The match itself sputtered to life in the first half, where by all accounts Atleti looked a far cry from the dominant performances being churned out towards the start of the season. But a decisive second half penalty from Ollie Bassett meant Atleti took control and never looked back, with Sam Salter coming off the bench and capitalizing on some shoddy defensive work by Valour to tuck home his second goal of the season. Former Valour player Matteo de Brienne had family in the stands and looked as if he might get the chance to celebrate in front of them, though his volley late in the first half found only crossbar. He was nevertheless rewarded as the ‘Player of the Match’ for his efforts during the game everywhere else, and joined the post-match press conference alongside Carlos González. Here is all you need to know from the post match presser as Atlético Ottawa beat Valour 2-0:

Photo © Phil Larivière

The Quotes: Carlos González

On an abundance of goalscorers this season: “This is one of the keys of the season. We created a squad that had an internal competition that we have two players in each position that could play in any moment. And the guys are understanding that really well. They're accepting the role that they have to occupy every single game, and they are giving the best for the team if they have five minutes, if they have 20, or if they have 75…I think that this is the base to make that the team gets better and better and grows in the future.”

On ATO showing maturity: “Valour, they are growing so much. You've seen the evolution in the last month that they are a very solid team that they have a strong midfield and that they have very clear the ideas that they want to put on the field. And it was about little-by-little start to break them, have a little bit of patience, don't rush actions, don't feel that we had to win the game in the 15 minutes. And at the end of the day, we did a mature game in which we wait for our moment and we improve little-by-little in every single action.”

On performances from the bench: “I think that was very important that Liberman gets five minutes and pushes the team, that Sam Salter gets that and yeah, he scored a goal and he created so much in a small amount of minutes. Sissoko, every single player, Dani Morer. I think that we can be very happy about that because this is the key of the team at the end of the day, having a good competitive level in between us.”

The Quotes: Matteo De Brienne

On a strong defensive win: “It's incredible. We came here knowing that it wasn't going to be an easy game. Despite the (past) two results, we put that past us. But we knew that Valour had something they needed to fight for, and they were going to come grab it. But everybody today, through 90-plus minutes, everybody was solid. So it's one of those great feelings to be a part of.”

On space on the flanks: “It's an enjoyment to be able to play on different surfaces in terms of the width of the pitch because that means that guys of different qualities are capable of showing their qualities on days. And being able to give guys on our team a lot of space, I feel, is a big danger to the opposition. And so I feel like that's something that really helps us in the ball-movement process, as well as just getting forward for attack.”

Photo © CPL Photos

On the goalscorers: “All praise to Sam. He came on and he did his job. So he's done that twice already, and that's something that I feel like he's not getting enough credit for. And obviously, Ollie is just one of those players of extreme quality. And I know he has one of those journeys of always doing well against Winnipeg because I remember I hated playing against him the last two years. So I'm very happy to see him continue the way he is.”

Elsewhere in the presser, Carlos González commented on how pleased he was at the way his team controlled the game: “We tried to control the game with the ball and we didn’t defend too much,” he said. It was a professional performance from Ottawa especially in the second half, in which Valour was limited to only a single speculative shot on target. For their efforts, the Winnipeg side pieced together a paltry 0.19 expected goals, while ATO actually underperformed an xG of 2.36. Most notably, Atleti accomplished this by not sitting deep and inviting pressure, instead continuing to bring the match to Valour and, eventually, being rewarded with a goal from Sam Salter to put the match out of sight. Gonzalez referred to the Atleti performance as “well rounded,” a common theme so far this season. Despite early fears of squad depth, Gonzalez has been rewarded by his squad options. In fact, of all the players in the team to have contributed over 90 minutes of league action, the only outfield player to not boast a goal contribution is centre-half Luke Singh.

Photo © CPL Photos

Atleti return to Ottawa for a match against York United next week, and spirits remain high with Atlético Ottawa top of the league and undefeated – seven points clear of second-place Vancouver FC. That match will kick off at 1pm on Saturday in front of what looks to be a massive crowd at TD Place. See you there and vamos!

About Ben

Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are Adam Hurrey, James Richardson, and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.

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