The Forward Press: ‘These Are Points We Will Remember,’ Says CarGo

The Forward Press: ‘These Are Points We Will Remember,’ Says CarGo

Historically, Sunday's point against Halifax marked the best start for a CPL team ever for Atlético Ottawa. Was it the best result? Absolutely not. Atlético Ottawa had to ride its luck after spending a short week on the other side of the country, being gifted a late red card and HFX providing copious amounts of extra time, but in the end, Zapater ran back the years with a thumping header into the corner of the net in 101st minute to tie the match and keep the league undefeated streak alive. Ollie Bassett also got off the mark in the league to spur on the comeback with a composed finish created by Ballou Tabla. Bassett and Gonzalez both met with the press after the match to discuss the highs and lows of Halifax 2-2 ATO. Here are all the details:

The Quotes: Ollie Bassett

On the squad mentality: “I think obviously last year [today] would have been a different story. This year we've brought in a lot of experience and good players, and I think generally just players that know how to win and have won things in this league, championships and leagues and stuff like that. So I think, honestly, we have a good group of people. We have a good vibe in the locker room. We get along really well with each other. And I think sometimes that's equally as important as just having players who are individually good. 

On first half mistakes: “We'll probably look at the first half and look at why we were maybe a little bit too deep and didn't get enough pressure on the ball and gave them too much possession. And then obviously the second half is completely different. We…pressed them a bit higher. We were a lot more aggressive and we forced turnovers that got us back into the game. And we have a week now until our next game. So it'll be nice to have a bit longer to recover.”

Photo © CPL Photos

On picking up form alongside Ballou Tabla: “We've both maybe started off a little bit slow this season in times. I think we've both played well in the first few games, but I think today we were back to how we were in 2022. I think playing with him is always enjoyable because he's a guy that I feel like is on the same page as me when we have the ball. For the goal…he just knows that I'll be on the edge of the box and he just rolls it across. I didn't really want to go for power. I'd rather try and just place it in the corner…It was nice to get off of the mark in the league for the year.”

On playing at TD Place: “I love playing at home here and playing in front of these fans. And I think it's also important to pick up points away from home, but it's also important to pick up points and play well at home because these guys pay their money to come and watch us. And it's up to us to entertain them and make sure they keep coming back because we obviously want all of their support. I think if we're going to do anything this season, they're going to be right at the heart of it.”

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

Photo © CPL Photos

On fighting spirit: “We knew…that the football could lack in certain moments on the team. But I take the last 30 minutes of the game. There are moments in the season that football and tactics are not the most important thing. It's more about the attitudinal part. The intangible things – the spirit, the commitment, the pride that you play. I think that we were brilliant on that. It was spectacular. These are points that at the end of the season, we will remember.”

On travel weariness: “Only people who go to the West Coast, come back, play eight games in one month, go again to the West Coast, come back, go to Halifax, come back. Only those people that live that understand why sometimes the engine doesn't work as we want. It's so difficult. You come here and you still have the timing of the West Coast, and you cannot sleep…At the end of the day, we cannot forget that players are humans. Staff is human.”

On another goal involvement for Dani Morer: “He's going to be a player that as a winger is going to give us a lot. As a fullback, we have to work on certain situations with him. But I think that is a great addition for the team.”

On Tyr Walker and Liberman Torres: “We can be satisfied with the level of Tyr. It wasn't an easy game for him to play because he hasn't had competitive minutes for a while…I'm pretty happy because he competed well. He minimized his mistakes, and he was a player that added to the team today. Liberman, he's not a pure centre-back. He can play as a centre-back in a line of three. But today, how the game was there, we thought that it was the best position to occupy. I think that he's going to grow. We still feel that his fitness can be improvable, but also he has a great character. He comes from a very high level of football in Europe, so I'm sure that he's going to be a player that is going to give us a lot of depth and a lot of positive things.”

Photo © CPL Photos

Both player and manager touched on the impact from the bench of 38-year-old Alberto Zapater. Bassett joked that he almost never sees the Spaniard to score in training, but added that he “can’t speak highly enough of him.” Gonzalez admitted “his capacity to head the ball in the box is surprising. But why not?” Bassett said Zapater has taken to playing in the CPL well despite “understanding this is obviously a significantly lower level than he’s used to.” Both Bassett and Gonzalez added the team understands how extremely fortunate to have a player like that in the locker room and in the heart of midfield.

For those concerned about the poor result against Halifax, bear in mind that there was a plethora of changing faces before and throughout the game. Salter and Walker picked up some rare minutes from the start, while the cramping of Tyr Walker meant Liberman Torres was thrown onto the pitch probably with a lot more urgency than he would have been hoping in his first appearance for the club. Gonzalez also mentioned that he had been hoping to also start Morer on the wing against Halifax after being impressed by his recent performances, but the Spaniard had felt “pain in his knee” in training. Hopefully the injury bug which seems to be going around does not end up being any more infectious than it is currently. Tabla played with a knock from the Pacific game, and Gonzalez also confirmed that Amer Didić encountered an ankle sprain, though given the way he sprinted onto the field to celebrate with his colleagues at full time, he won’t be long for the field. Tissot has also been sidelined, though was seen walking the pitch which is a good sign, while Kévin Dos Santos lacks any return timeline. The injuries have begun to pile up, and its certainly something to keep an eye on. 

However, with no CanChamp to worry about, the team will have six days to recover before taking to the field against Valour, still undefeated and top of the league. See you in a week. 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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