The Forward Press: ATO looks to continue historic run against Pacific

The Forward Press: ATO looks to continue historic run against Pacific

Atlético Ottawa faces its biggest test this week with a second-leg trip and everything on the line in Victoria, but it couldn’t come at a better time. Atleti will touch tarmac in BC with a 3-0 thrashing of Forge still fresh on collective minds, bringing a blistering hot form to Starlight on which the same squad triumphed in an identical fixture less than 2 weeks ago. A confident Carlos Gonzalez had only positives to speak of as he addressed the media before taking off for his clash with Pacific FC. He touched on the positive mindset within the club which can only come from a span of nine consecutive undefeated matches to start the season. Here are all the details you need to know before Atlético Ottawa take on Pacific FC for an all-or-nothing spot in the Canadian Championship semifinals:

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On leftover emotions from Saturday: It's important that we realize what have we done good so that we can repeat it. So this has been the main target on the last few days. Recovering the bodies and also make everybody be stable emotionally. At the end of the day we have done a good start in the league, but it's only one quarter of the CPL and still a lot of games to play…And the most important thing is that we have a fast turnover because we have the game of the Championship and we are eager to fly to Victoria and to try to do a great game.”

On impressions of Pacific: “They're a team that don't concede too much. They're a team that is tough to break, and they're a team that has personality, and it's going to be a tough team at their home. I'm sure that they have to look for a win, and I'm sure that they are going to put pressure on us. We have to equalize. Equalize the energy, equalize the attitudinal part. I think that is a key point to see who wants it more.”

On a great time to be an Atleti fan: “Being a soccer fan of a winning team is always great. This is the easy part. But I am more proud because I think that we also had a strong fan base and good fans when the things were not going so well last season. So I give more value to that. I'm happy to keep nearly 6,000 people here last weekend…There are going to be also not so good moments during the season. We have to also be prepared for that. And I think that how we react as a club, as a fan base, as a staff, as a team, how we react to those not so easy moments is going to be the key of the success.”

On preparing for all outcomes including penalties: I prepare [the players] saying that we want to win. We don't want to get into penalties. This is the mentality that the team is going to Victoria. We will go there to win the game, to continue in a good dynamic, and to continue growing as a team. I think this is the only way that we should approach it.

Gonzalez was also asked about two specific players who have been collecting impressive performances between them over the past weeks: the right-sided duo of Kris Twardek and Dani Morer. A late arrival to the squad, Morer has been putting together a string of impressive cameos off the bench including a decisive goal contribution against Forge on Saturday. Twardek meanwhile has had his name carved into the team sheet since the start of the season. Although Twardek would have been expected to play as a winger upon arriving at Atlético Ottawa, while Morer appeared at least from the outside to be the more defensive of the two, the opposite presented itself to Gonzalez. “We scouted Kris when he was playing in Ireland,” Gonzalez said. “We knew that although he was playing as a winger, we saw good capacities to do a great job as a fullback.” 

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

Gonzalez elaborated that the arrival of Morer meant the Spaniard would have to slot in a little higher up the pitch. He said he knew Morer had been playing as a midfielder in the Barcelona academy and for Spain youth international matches. “We knew that his main characteristics were on the ball, a quality player with a great first touch, very technical. So we thought that he could do it well in an offensive position,” Gonzalez said.

No matter their perceived positions before arriving in the nation's capital, it has been a masterstroke by Carlos Gonzalez to get the best out of each player, both of whom will be heavily in contention to feature midweek against Pacific FC. Another player available (though perhaps unlikely to start due to the form of his direct competition) is Nathan Ingham, who returns after missing four games with an injury.

Gonzalez summarized the importance of Wednesday's clash with Pacific, calling it a “great opportunity” and a “milestone” for the club. To hopefully cheer the boys in stripes to their first Canadian Championship semifinal, come join CCSG at the Glebe Central Pub Watch Party at 10pm on Wednesday. We hope to see you there!

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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