The Forward Press: Atleti, Yesli find ‘Luck On Their Side’ in Win Over Pacific

The Forward Press: Atleti, Yesli find ‘Luck On Their Side’ in Win Over Pacific

Atlético Ottawa claim de facto top spot in the league, a position owed heavily to the massive paw of once-auxiliary keeper Rayane Yesli. The 24-year-old produced a composed performance between the sticks to keep an injury ravaged Pacific FC at bay, while at the other end it was Rubén Del Campo (who else?) who stuffed a shot off the right post and into the back of the net to bring his tally up to six on the season. Given the magnitude of Yesli's last minute save which won the match for Ottawa, it was no surprise that the keeper joined the post match presser alongside Carlos Gonzalez. Here are all the details from ATO 1-0 PFC:

The Quotes: Rayane Yesli

On hard-fought victory: “It's a very good feeling, winning on the road is something quite special, especially against a good team like Pacific, who hadn't conceded a goal this year. So we feel proud not only to be able to break their streak, but also to be able to get a big point, a big three points against a team that's so close to us in the standings. It's feeling amazing.”

Photo © CPL Photos

On claiming first place in the league: “We had a huge stretch of games recently. I don't know if it was seven or six games in 15 days, something like that. So this is the first time where we get an actual week of preparation for the next game. I think we're going to get some days off and I'm going to enjoy them. But first of all, I'm going to take care of myself, my mind, and my body. After good performances like that from a team, I feel like it's good to take a bit of time for yourself and re-advance yourself to come back strong for the beginning of the week.”

On earning league starts: “I feel like I'm progressing every single day by the work that we do on the field with the coaching staff…I feel in excellent shape, ready to give everything that I have for the team. [Do I think that] I'm at the best that I am or that I can be? Probably not…I'm still young, so I still have time to work. I feel like throughout the year, especially the more games you play, you grow on confidence and also you can better yourself. So I think I still have some potential to reach.”

On a crucial last-minute save: “As soon as I saw the ball pass by our defender and he comes in alone, I know that I'm going to be asked, so I knew that I had to do something. And everyone thought, just like me, that he was going to play the ball into space for one of his treammates. And really, hats off to him. He really surprised me. He went for the shot and I managed to react and luckily the ball hit the post and hit me afterwards. I found it right behind me. So for once luck is on my side, I'm going to take it”

Photo © CPL Photos

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On waiting 85 minutes before making the majority of his subs: “I felt that in that moment of the last half an hour, they were leaving bigger spaces and we had the appropriate players on the field to maybe close the game, to score the second one and finish the game. So that's why I left the players up front a little bit more because I felt that we were going to score the second.”

On impressions of Pacific with 12 days until CanChamp: “I felt that in the first 15, 30 minutes, we were a dominant team in which we played in the other team's half. It's true that in the second half, they were chasing a result, so they have to take more risk and go forward...But I don't know how it's going to be in the next game of the Championship. The reality is that any tie with goals will benefit us. So probably they will fight for the win since the beginning, and we are also going to do that.”

On defensive solidity: “I'm very proud of the effort that the players have been doing this last month. Only people who have been here for every single day know what is the effort that they made because it has been tough in certain moments, playing with a lot of games in a short amount of time. And today, the second half maybe wasn't so pretty as other days. And also, if you want to be a winning team, you have to be able to take out results and points also in a different ways.”

On finding goals from anywhere: “This is what we're working on. There are some moments in which teams defend well, so we have to try to find situations in set piece or in transition in other ways. And I think that this is a key point to be a more complete team.”

Photo © CPL Photos

Elsewhere in the post-match presser, Pacific youngster Christian Greco-Taylor spoke highly of Rubén Del Campo’s first half bullet, saying, “To be fair, it's a great finish from Del Campo. It’s one of the best finishes I’ve seen.” The Swiss striker looks a player completely freed of the shackles which held him to only a few goal contributions last season, and we’ll be hoping this form continues. Gonzalez certainly hoped Del Campo had a second goal in him against the Tridents, and it was interesting to hear the Spaniard speak on the strategy behind his substitutions. With Pacific having used all three substitutions before the halftime interval, it seemed to make sense to introduce fresh bodies right as the game became stretched, but Gonzalez stuck with almost his entire opening lineup for 85 minutes, a testament to the trust he has in his starting XI, but also yet another sign of his lack of options off the bench and his reluctance to gift minutes. For all of Gonzalez’s trust, ATO forwards failed to capitalize on a beleaguered Pacific back line, instead inviting all the pressure on themselves a-la 2023 Atlético Ottawa. But three points are three points, and spending the next week in an undefeated first place will be enough to quell any concerns for now.

Atlético Ottawa closes out its two-match spell in British Columbia with two positive results, though the squad will travel back to Starlight Stadium in less than two weeks for leg two of the Canadian Championship. Having already scored and won on Pacific soil will be a major confidence boost, as will the fact that Pacific could be looking at some major losses amongst the ranks. But before all that, a clash with Forge to defend first place kicks off next Saturday afternoon. Until then, enjoy first place, Atleti fans!

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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