The Forward Press: ATO Rewrite History Books in Huge Home Win

The Forward Press: ATO Rewrite History Books in Huge Home Win

And just like that, Carlos Gonzalez and Atlético Ottawa have gone once around the league without tasting defeat. It was arguably Atleti’s best performance of the league campaign so far too, striding to a 3-0 victory against a Forge side which, apart from a few occasions, never really looked up to the challenge. A rasping strike from Manny Aparicio opened the scoring early in the match, stunning a Forge side which had never conceded at TD Place. Zapater would come off the bench to add to the lead with a textbook header, but it was the third goal, a free-flowing move between Bassett, Morer and inevitable scorer Rubén Del Campo, which really exemplified the devastating potential of this team when the squad is clicking. For not only scoring the first goal but putting in some eye-watering defensive statistics, Manny Aparicio picked up another Manny of the Match award, and joined the press conference alongside Carlos Gonzalez. Here are all the details from the post-match presser as Atleti dismantles Forge 3-0:

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

The Quotes: Manny Aparicio

On always bringing 100 percent:  “I think those types of moments when I give everything to the team, I believe that if you do those things, then everything else falls into place. That's just how I was raised, watching my dad play, even though it was local football, that's how he used to play. And with my older cousins and stuff, I was always the smallest. I had to fight hard and give everything to be able to shine. So, yeah, I just try to do whatever is needed from my team and to help my teammates.”

On his trademark flying tackles: “It gets me going those moments. I'm not going to lie. When I get stuck in or I get into those tackles, it gives me a new life, fresh air.”

On opening the scoring from range: “I've been thinking about the last few games that I haven't really been taking shots from outside the box. We've had dominant performances and we haven't really tested keepers much. So, yeah, it's just something I went into the game thinking, I'm going to try to get some early shots on. And, yeah, it just came off nice.”

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

On full squad buy-in: “It's massive to see the subs come on and make such an impact. Zapa came on and scores a goal. Dani comes on and creates a third one. Sacko comes on the other wing and is the menace out there. So it's beautiful to see these guys just being ready. And when they got their opportunity, they took it. And yeah, putting games to bed a little bit earlier is always nicer than going until the 94th and getting that 1-0”

On looking ahead to Wednesday: “Our mindset was on this game now. We'll definitely regroup tomorrow and the day after once we start flying out and things like that. But yeah, it's a massive game. We know what's at stake. We know we have to get through to get into that semifinal. So we're going with everything. We also know that one away goal means a lot. So if we can get that one, I think we can get the job done there.”

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On impressions from the match: “I think that the team in the first half was really good on the ball, really good in high pressure, really good in being dominant. And in the second half, we were really good in a medium block, being compact, more in transitions. I think we have many tools to win games. This is the type of team that I'm trying to build from our side.”

On giving the captains armband to Ballou Tabla: “We can be very pleased because we've built a deep squad, a squad with a lot of personality, with the appropriate mentality, and it's quite easy to give the band to many. We have a lot of players that although they don't have the band, and maybe they are not the captains, they are leaders in the field. Manu sat here, Didić, Luke is growing so much, Mateo is growing so much, although he's young. Kris, Ollie, I can say every single name because they have a lot of personality and they could wear the band absolutely 100%. But today we decided to put it on Ballou because he's part of the leadership group, because Zapa, Max, and Nate weren't on the starting 11. Because I think it's the moment to put Ballou with more responsibility because I think that he's growing so much, but he has so many things to give to the team.”

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

On a turnout of almost 6,000 fans: “I think that today was the perfect game, the perfect atmosphere. Not very warm, it didn't rain that much like other days. It tried to, but it maintained. And very pleased to go out through the tunnel and see happy faces. I think that that's the best thing for me as a coach, as a team. We can be happy seeing that the people who we represent they are happy and they feel good.”

On reading the game: “The team is growing in matureness. We are each time more mature, reading the game, understanding what the game needs in each moment. We spoke about that in the halftime, that it was a moment to make them run, to control, to do longer attacks. Although we felt that we had the spaces to break them, sometimes it was a matter of having a bit of more patience and taking the game to our side. I think we did it perfectly. It's alternating this type of attacks is good for the team because it makes it difficult to opponents to defend us.”

For the statheads out there, Manny Aparicio must have been breathing that “fresh air” he spoke of all match, as the midfielder walked out of TD Place Stadium with three of three tackles won, ten duels attempted and a whopping ten possessions won. He continues a rich vein of form which will no doubt see him picking up team of the week accolades for the fourth time in seven weeks. Aparicio leads the league in tackles won currently, and also is vying with Themi Antonoglu and teammate Matteo De Brienne to lead the league in interceptions. Despite Aparicio's wizardry in the heart of midfield, it was a full team performance which had CarGo calling the win a “perfect day,” and it was fitting to see this perfect, historic day play out on “World Football Day” no less. Gonzalez’s men will want to carry this perfect result with them as they fly back to British Columbia to meet up with Pacific in four days. One would imagine it will be a fairly expected side to stack up against Pacific, with Zapater rested and sure to walk back into the midfield for the crucial match on Wednesday. But there were also some stand-out performances from the bench (Dani Morer looked particularly sharp) and Gonzalez may turn in that direction for some wildcards on Wednesday, especially with Aparicio noting in the post-match presser a second-half tiredness which didn’t affect the result but may play into squad selection come Wednesday.

Much like the squad, it’s recovery time! The CCSG gathers again in only four days, as we hope to watch Atleti write its name in the Canadian Championship semi-finals from behind drinks at the GCP. But expect another Forward Press before then! Vamos Atleti!

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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