The Forward Press: Undefeated Pacific and What's the Word on Ballou?

The Forward Press: Undefeated Pacific and What's the Word on Ballou?

With other CPL clubs taking the field against MLS sides like Vancouver Whitecaps and CF Montréal this week, Atlético Ottawa will be hungry to get its own bite at the cherry. To do so, it will have to go through the unblinking Pacific FC, which has started the season undefeated having only had its net intruded once by the plucky TSS Rovers. In the league however, Pacific FC have been infallible, and Atlético Ottawa will be hoping both sides will perform consistent to their previous cup staandards. Coach Carlos Gonzalez joined the pre-match press conference ahead of the first leg of the CanChamp quarterfinals. Here are all the details:

Photo © Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On facing undefeated Pacific: "Pacific is doing a great job. They are very solid defensively. They have a clean sheet in every single game of the regular season. So I expect a solid team. I expect the team that they also want to play a game of 180 minutes, not only a game of 90 minutes. And at the same time, I expect that my team is maintaining the consistency of the last games."

On reducing the training load: "Of course you do some tweaks in the training session. At the end of the day, you have less time to recover. This one has been a very rapid turnover because you only have two days of preparation. [Monday] was to prepare the team again, physically and mentally. Some players that didn't play much, we [gave] them a little bit of training in the day, and the other ones was completely recovery...At the end of the day, these are low loads, so that the players can reach the next game in the best conditions."

On the competitiveness between MLS and CPL sides: "I think, realistically, that the level of the league is increasing so much. Each time, the difference between Canadian MLS teams and the CPL teams is getting narrower. So looking forward to doing a good game tomorrow, a game that permits us have an advantage for the second leg in Vancouver Island. And after that, why not dream on playing against an MLS team?"

On the form of Ballou Tabla: "I've seen a big progression on him since [the] pre-season that we started to work with him…He's improving little by little, and each time he's impacting more the team. That is what we all want. But as I say, at the end of the day, they are humans. They are games that they are going to be a little bit better…And there are maybe games in which they have to work more in the darkness, and we don't see them shine so much. But this is football. It's normal."

Photo © Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

Twice during the press conference, CarGo referenced how his players are “not machines.” You can only imagine the toll that five matches across two weeks might be taking on his squad. Despite CarGo’s objective to find and rely on an established starting XI, he said there is a plan in place for measuring the matchday minutes today. We know Rayane Yesli and Ollie Bassett will likely return to the side, and CarGo said he’ll be looking to introduce a “new player or players that maybe haven’t played as much in the last few games.” But who will that be? It seems like the likely choice is to give the flying Gabriel Antinoro another shot in the team, but there are also some exciting prospects to consider as well – perhaps Abou Sacko or Dani Morer see their first significant minutes of the season, while Tyr Walker has proven a known quality against Pacific and is still awaiting his first start on TD soil.

Pacific are off on a hot start of their own, and we will likely see a coy first leg of the tie. Gonzalez will be tentative to press so highly against a team that has proven to be competent in absorbing and snuffing out attacks. But we saw weakness when Pacific had to claw their way back against TSS Rovers, and hopefully Gonzalez can exploit that weakness twice over the course of the next two weeks. This being the final match of the homestretch before the squad travels out west, come join the CCSG at the Glebe Central Pub before and after the match. 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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