The Forward Press: ATO Looks to Repeat History against Forge

The Forward Press: ATO Looks to Repeat History against Forge

Atleti’s campaign to defend first place for the rest of the season is in full swing now, and already the club faces one of its biggest remaining tasks: Repeating history against Forge on TD Place soil. The Hamiltonians look hungry to make up the five point gap between the two sides, though for the first time, recent history favours ATO against the Hammers. A win at home against Forge will be intrinsic to fending off opposition for top spot in the league. Forge sit third in the table with a game in hand, having picked up points in four of the last five, while Kwasu Poku has contributed three goals in his last two games playing up top. Meanwhile, ATO appears to be going through the first slump of the season, and we are all waiting to see how quickly Carlos González can get all engines running again. He will be bolstered by a full roster barring those on the long term injury list. González joined the pre-match presser ahead of the match. Here are all the details:

The Quotes: Carlos González

Photo © Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

On lessons learned in Calgary: “As always, many things you can take to the next game, mainly focusing on us and what can we do better. I think the last game, we did a lot of things good, but in the last third, we weren't ruthless enough. So it's important to be sharp in the opponent's box if you want to win against an opponent like Forge. And at the same time, take things that can be similar from one game plan to the other one.”

On heightened expectations: “I think it's as big as any game. At the moment, it's still a little bit early in the season. I don't think that it's going to be a definite game. So we will be playing for three points against an opponent that is fighting for similar things than us. So at the end of the day, it's important, but it's not a final.”

Photo © CPL

On possible improvements: “The amount of chances that we are creating every single game is high. So maybe the percentage of effectiveness is not the best one. But at the moment, as a coach, I always say that I would be worried if I felt that the team is not creating or we are not having the tools to get into the opponent's field and threaten them. And I think that we are threatening them a lot. But it's true that in the last meters, maybe the last decision made or the technical action has not been as good as other games.”

On the upcoming transfer window: “I think that we have 99 percent of the squad full, and I'm very pleased with the players that I have. At the end of the day, we are not only happy with the technical tactical capacity of the players, the quality also, I think the human quality that they have is great, and it's very important for a long season. Let's see how are the opportunities that we are thinking of. Maybe there are one, two spots, mainly one that we could cover, because I still feel that we have to be prepared for every scenario in the season. And now that the windows open, like every single team, we are working on several situations.”

On Forges firepower up front: “It's true that Poku is in a good moment, in a different position, and he's given results to his team. But I don't feel that Poku should be our main threat. I think that collectively, they're a team that they work well and they have a clear identity. They've shown in the last few years. So we focus on that, make the balance on the strength that they have. And at the end of the day, getting to their weakness, because I also feel that they have weak sides.”

Photo © CPL

The Talking Point: Fending off Forge at the Fortress

Before the start of the season, taking on Forge at home felt like a forgone conclusion. Atlético Ottawa had never scored against the Hamilton side at TD Place, let alone take home all three points. Dread from the 2022 CPL final lingered with every meeting in the nation's capital. But that narrative is erased now thanks to comprehensive victory last time out, and ATO will be looking to continue the trend. González said he expects a similar Forge team to the one he saw in May, and although both sides may have been feeling some CanChamp fatigue, he doesn’t expect much of a difference. “The players that are playing at the moment are similar players to the players that played against us. So I don’t think it’s going to be very difficult,” González said. 

With a semblance of the identity of Forge already in his mind, González can work on making TD Place a fortress again, something that will be integral not just against Forge, but no matter the opposition down the stretch. He said the team always looks forward to playing at home, even if the record against the opposition still reads historically unfavourably.

“We’re missing TD Place on a daily basis …so looking forward to having a great night tomorrow and to do a good game so that the fans are proud of the team.”

Kickoff is at 7pm tonight at TD Place, and the weather looks promising, so bring the energy! As always, drinks will be had before and after the game at the Glebe Central Pub. 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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