The Forward Press: Yesli and Gonzalez Share “Frustrations” Following Cup Exit

The Forward Press: Yesli and Gonzalez Share “Frustrations” Following Cup Exit

It almost felt as if every negative element that had been quietly shoved aside through the first seven weeks of the season came out at once on the pitch at Starlight on Wednesday night. Atlético Ottawa was ousted from the Canadian Championship in an uncharacteristically meek performance by Pacific FC, which progressed to play the Whitecaps in the semifinals. After a dreary first half, which saw all the luck falling in Pacific's favour, Atlético Ottawa woke up too late, with a Sam Salter marker not amounting to much beyond flattering the Ottawans on the scoresheet. It would be forgivable to have assumed Atleti had one foot in the semi-finals for the first time before kickoff, but having been outmustered and outgunned, ATO and Gonzalez will now turn all expectations to their still unblemished league campaign. Rayane Yesli was one of only a few bright spots throughout the match, coping well enough with Pacific's 11 shots on target, and Yesli joined the media postmatch along with coach Carlos Gonzalez. Both let their frustrations be known, so here are all the details in The Forward Press:

Photo Credits: CPL Photos

The Quotes: Rayane Yesli

On hectic schedules: “It's been a crazy month for us. We've played a ton of games in the last month…In the top level in football, they do play that many games, but we don't have the same infrastructure, as we play on turf. We don't have the same technology, so it's different to compare that level and our level. We had so many games, three games this week also. It's normal that we feel a bit of fatigue. But other than that, congrats to Pacific. They had a good first half…we have shown resilience in the second half. It could have even gone in our favor towards the end of the match, but that's it.”

On slanted playing fields: “We had a lot of games this month… and I could add that I found the refereeing was not really in our favour. He decided that he would make the match more about himself rather than just refereeing from a neutral position. But there's a mix of many things that have made us unable to get the result we wanted.” (Translated from French)

On an early injury to Max Tissot: He's an important part of the team. He's a really good player on the ball. He helps us a lot going out of tight situations when we have the ball. So when you lose a player like that, it's going to be a bit more difficult to get the ball out. But also in these kinds of games, especially towards the end, you'd like to have another leader on the field to motivate the guys to show the example. And it's unfortunate that he got injured, and I hope it's nothing serious.

Photo Credit: Tim Austen/Freestyle Photography

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On what went wrong in the first half: “I think we didn't match the energy that they put in the first 30 minutes. I think that also it takes too much time to understand where were the spaces with the pressure. And this creates us a little bit of uncertainty. And after that, the details. A penalty that is a handball in a deflection, a ball that goes to the post and come back.”

On playing the league match in four days: “This is the point I have frustration. Now we have to digest a little bit the frustration because we always want to win. It was a very important competition for us. We wanted to be there in the semifinals. But now, from tomorrow, thinking on the next game that is going to be on Sunday against Halifax. We want to maintain our good dynamic.”

On injuries to Maxim Tissot and Ballou Tabla: “Max seems to have…he felt pain in his knee, so we should test him on the next day to see what's going on there. And hopefully, it's nothing very, very serious. But we have to take time for that. And Ballou was the knock on this duel on the last action of the first half. He couldn't even walk. But I hope that also with a good recovery, treatment and ice, I hope that it's nothing more than that. We will see on the next days, and we hope that none of them have serious injuries.”

On takeaways for the league campaign: These defeats, they always have a positive part. At least, maintain the hunger and realize that when you win, you are doing very good things and that nothing is forever and many things. Now, we have to give credit to what the team is doing on this first two, three months of competition. And now have the learnings of this game and try to improve because at the end of the day, every team is improving, so we have to keep our way.”

It’s not just the disappointment of a first loss that stings, or another elimination from the cup which in other circumstances would have been easier to swallow. But it was loss of the positive momentum that seemed to have missed the flight to Victoria that will be mentally taxing. It’s the fact that it happened against a team that ATO conquered with relative ease only a few weeks ago. What Atleti fans and staff alike would have given to merely switch the two results.

Nevertheless, we can’t expect to win twice a week for the rest of the season. A poor result was earned by the club after three weeks of near perfection, and if this match truly was a performance in which all the players were able to get their bugbears out, then it will be a willing sacrifice for a few more weeks of said perfection. Many called Wednesday the biggest match of the season, but Sunday will be second in proportion as ATO gets to exhibit how it will respond to a loss for the first time this season.

For Rayane Yesli, there is only one possible response come Sunday at home against the last-in-the-league Halifax Wanderers. “Our standards as a team are really high, and we want to win every single game. Every single one. So there's nothing other to say than to win the next game against Halifax.”

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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