The Forward Press: Weary ATO Lacks “Dynamism,” Settles for First-Leg Draw

The Forward Press: Weary ATO Lacks “Dynamism,” Settles for First-Leg Draw

“There’s nothing like the magic of the Cup,” breathed nobody, as ATO and Pacific lurched to a far-from-thrilling 0-0 draw. The match was a leggy affair from the beginning with the two clubs coming off a grueling stretch of fixtures. Tissot thought he’d struck gold 40 minutes into the match on a deflected strike that found only bar, a moment that Coach Carlos Gonzalez said could have changed the match completely. The ball ricocheted outwards and was cleared, nullifying the most significant threat on Sean Melvin's goal over the next 45+ minutes. The game was a stop-start affair pock-marked by injuries, cards, and a hefty degree of game management from the Victoria side, a club insistent on bringing the second leg to Langford deadlocked. It was no surprise that there was a muted, frustrated atmosphere in the post-match presser. Carlos Gonzalez was joined in the presser by Matteo de Brienne, who patrolled the left sideline ruthlessly during the match. Here are all the quotes from ATO’s stalemate with Pacific FC:

The Quotes: Matteo de Brienne

On the toll of consistent minutes: “I feel like it's more of a mental thing. The fatigue, it comes. But our staff here, they've been able to load-manage us. There are ways to keep us moving forward, knowing that we have quite a few games this month. But at the end of the day, it's keeping each other accountable and making sure that we're able to push the next five minutes, 10 minutes in the game until the final whistle.”

Photo © Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

On the battle with Kunle Dada-Luke: “He's a player that I've been competing against for the last two and a half seasons now. So it's one of those players that I really enjoy playing against because I feel like he's one of those players who's really going to test me in games like this, where I need to make sure I'm really on my A game to make sure that I can help the team in every way possible and make sure that I can stop him.”

On fulfilling multiple positions: “I think the most enjoyable thing about it is that the coach has faith in me to play multiple positions on the field…I know my qualities, and I know that the players I play with, like Maxim Tissot, who's a great quality player, he'll find me. I'm a very attack-minded player, when balls come into the box I'm trying to be on every single one of those. So next game I got to do a bit better. I had two chances to put the ball in the back of the net. But it's more about consistency. And so playing up top, hopefully next game, I'm capable of helping the team achieve greater things.”

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On the match outcome: “I think that we can be satisfied, not because of the result, because we always want to win. And I think that today we did enough things to win the game. But it's true that we lack a little bit of spark or dynamism or last third, provoked by what we all know, that is the condensed weeks that we have had…I really like the first half that we did. In the second half, we could do a little bit better, but at the end of the day, we played against a good team that defends well.”

On the refereeing and game-management: “I think that the referee, they did a good job. I don't think it was a bad game for them…I felt that [Pacific], of course, this is a strategy to stop the game a little bit. But at the end of the day, this is football. They use their tools to control the game. We use our tools to control the game. And that's it. We don't have to look further than that.”

On how the deflection could have changed the match: “I think that one goal will break the game. It will make their plan break in pieces. Because I felt that they came here to grab a positive result, like a tie. Probably if we score in that moment, the strategy and the plan that they had, it will be a little bit different. Sometimes it's a little bit of luck of 2, 4 centimeters down or up.”

Photo © Philippe Larivière

In truth, it is a result that will suit both sides. Pacific FC will feel much more comfortable nullifying ATO attacks in Langford, without the influence of Atlético Ottawa’s twelfth man. ATO will consider itself unlucky not to have a goal in hand but can rest easy in the fact that their away goals will count for extra with aggregate at play. CarGo will be worried by the way Pacific clogged up the middle of the park, forcing Atleti to shoot or cross from the flanks. Gonzalez said the idea at TD Plce was always to overload the wings with adept crossers, hence playing four fullbacks, but he said when the ball was in the air, “we didn't have enough numbers maybe there.” If Gonzalez had something to be pleased about, it's in the way his team avoided being sucked into Pacific counters, with Yesli keeping his second straight uneventful clean sheet. Gonzalez will have some opportunities to experiment with his tactics on the road against Pacific in two weeks, with hopefully some answers he can institute when the clubs meet for a third time on May 29.

But before then, Atlético Ottawa will meet up with another BC side in the form of Vancouver FC, a side that, much like ATO, looks leaps and bounds ahead of last year's build. That match kicks off at Willoughby Park at 7PM. Tune back into the Forward Press before that match for all of Gonzalez’s thoughts ahead of that clash. And as always, come down to the Glebe Central Pub this weekend for our second Watch Party of the year. 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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