The Forward Press: Undefeated ATO Face First Test Out West

The Forward Press: Undefeated ATO Face First Test Out West

Atlético Ottawa takes to the road for the second time after kicking off the 2024 season with five of six matches on TD Place turf. The first test in a considerable stint out west? There is an unknown quantity to Vancouver FC, a side that sits in joint-fourth and looks much more effective than it did when introduced to the Canadian Premier League only a year ago. Coach Carlos Gonzalez joined the pre-match presser before the team headed off to Langley, British Columbia - here are all the details ahead of Atlético Ottawa’s first meeting of the season with Vancouver FC:

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On 500 Canadian Premier League matches: “I've been here now for two years and a bit, and I've been seeing a big, big growth on the culture of the sport in the country. I think that things have been doing well, and you can see the evolution of the game, you can see the evolution of the players. So I think that Canada is in the right direction, and hopefully this is only the start.”

On a much-improved Vancouver FC side: “They have a lot of tools offensively. They signed really well, I think that they've done a very good offseason and they have plenty of solutions upfront. What we try to do, as always, is try to control the strengths of the opponents. And it's true that Moses Dyer and Aledjandro Díaz are dynamite up front. So what we have to try to do is to maintain them far away from our net.”

On players having taken their opportunities: “If you have more games, you have more opportunities to play. And this is about taking advantage when you are in the field. And Rubén is taking that. We have a good advantage, of course, with the goals that he's been scoring in the last few games. But not only Rubén, I think that Gabby Antinoro also, he stepped into the field and he grabbed a good amount of minutes with good quality last game against Valour. Dani Morer, we had him in the last game of the Championship and I also saw positive things on him.”

Photo © Phil Larivière

On the value of a run of home wins to start the season: “This is very important that we started well on the season. Of course, every time you [win] at home, it's like double because you give satisfaction to the fan base and to the people that are here every single day of the year pushing for the club. But also I give a lot of value to the away wins because it's where you see the matureness of the team. I think that winning on the road is very important for us. And we've done it once in Halifax, and we hope we can do it again on Sunday.”

Now headlined by the goalscoring of Moses Dyer and built on steady pillars like Renan Garcia and Rocco Romeo, Vancouver FC will likely not bend to a 5-0 loss as they did to Atlético Ottawa in their first meeting last season, also played in BC. Instead, ATO will have to be on its toes to contend with a side that has won both of its home games so far. But with matches becoming more sparse over the next weeks, CarGo can afford to be a little less caring in his rotation of players? In fact, he mentioned his satisfaction with the depth of his side, particularly how in each of ATO’s recent matches, “one of our midfielders is staying out to give them a little bit of rest.” One wonders if this precedent will apply to the dynamic Manny Aparicio, the only midfielder to have started every match so far. CarGo reported that he once again will have every player at his disposal minus the unfortunate Kévin Dos Santos.

Photo © Phil Larivière

It’s easy to forget, but Atlético Ottawa are still an undefeated side and it's something we’d like to see continue for as long as possible. While not undefeated themselves and coming off a run of three losses away from home, Vancouver FC can claim to be the joint second-highest-scoring team in the league, so this has all the makings of a spirited match. You won’t want to miss it! 

To catch the match, which kicks off at Willoughby Park at 7 pm on Sunday evening, feel free to swing by the GCP for our usual CCSG Watch Party. 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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