The Forward Press: ‘They Scored On Us Walking Into the Dressing Room’

The Forward Press: ‘They Scored On Us Walking Into the Dressing Room’

Atlético Ottawa drop points to Pacific FC under familiar circumstances as the BC side come to TD Place and emerge with yet another result. The Tridents have now bested the boys in stripes twice after also defeating ATO in the Canadian Championship. It was another classic James Merriman display of game management, with Pacific folding into its classic low block and hitting Atlético Ottawa on the counter. Atlético Ottawa was far from pressed for chances, putting up an impressive 22 shots, 12 of which having come from within Emil Gazdov's box. Not for the first time, Atleti fall having posted an exorbitant expected goals tally. Far and away the worst miss of the afternoon fell to Ollie Bassett, whose penalty kick in the 92nd minute soared high over the crossbar, sealing the fate of the Rojiblancos and reducing the lead at the top of the table to only five points. González and his side continue to be stymied by the low block, and he and Kris Twardek joined the post match presser to reflect on the frustrations of the match. Here are all the details:

The Quotes: Carlos González

On Pacific grinding out results at TD Place: “They came to defend. They came to have one or two, three chances and be ruthless in those moments. We weren't able to score in many situations that we created. We have to focus on ourselves, not concede in that much, although it wasn't much, but concede less and be ruthless in those type of situations.”

On the closing gap between first and second: “I don't think it's a very big difference. I don't think anyone in this league is going to win every single time. I know York are doing a good job, but they lost last week in the games. You can see Forge are having trouble to win three points. Every single team is putting pressure on everyone. So it's not going to be an easy thing from now until the end.”

Photo © CPL

On Bassetts out-of-character performance: “I think that it wasn't the best game for any one of us. At the end of the day, the team wasn't at its best. If we were today at our best, probably we would have won the game. About missing the penalty, at the end of the day, the ones that miss the penalties are the ones that take the penalty. So sometimes he's scored in the last minute, and we've won because of that. Today, he missed, and no problem. We will continue with him shooting the penalties.”

On explanations for lackluster finishing: “You have to give credit to the defensive power that they have and how they did it. We were lacking certain moments. I think that sometimes you have the luck in your side, and today, probably, we didn't have it. Also, every time we play in warm weather with no water in the field, it's difficult. The bounce that the ball gives. And it's hard to finish the actions, to be precise, because sometimes you think that the ball is going to go one way and it changes direction. And it's not easy.”

The Quotes: Kris Twardek

On feelings at full time: “I think if you asked any of us today, they would give you the same answer to basically any question. Frustrated, disappointed. It just feels self-induced. They basically scored on our way into the dressing room. It couldn't have been later into the half. We were in control of the game.”

On not converting chances: “Even after the penalty miss in the 90 plus whatever, we still have two chances to score. If there was two more minutes, maybe. I think if there was two more minutes, we definitely have more chances. But whether we scored them or not, who knows on today's fortunes.”

Photo © CPL

On being proud of the fight despite the result: “I think you have to be…I think we fought till the end. If we weren't creating chances, if we weren't in control of the game, then I think that's where you have the opposite answer to that question. But yeah, I think you have to be proud of the fight, proud of the mindset that we knew we could win the game. And I think even 1-0 down, even up until the 80th minute, there's still that belief in the group that not only tie it, but even win the game.”

On attacking a low block: “When a team drops into a low block, and then is fortunate to score on the timing that they did, seconds before halftime, it's the perfect recipe for a team like that. If they could have written a script, it would have probably gone that way.”

The Takeaway: ATO Sink Closer to ‘Self-Induced’ Second

Two matchdays and 18 days ago, Nathan Ingham sat in the post-match press conference after a 1-1 draw with Cavalry and warned, “We're running out of breathing room” at the top of the table.  Although the points gap has remained fairly stable at five points, the performances haven’t improved since then. A heart-pounding win at Forge and the recent loss to Pacific followed, and in the wake of both performances, a phrase dropped by Kris Twardek in the post-match presser bubbled to the service: “Self-Induced.”

In the Forge match, it was a number of moments. Against Pacific, it only took the one lapse. 

Carlos González was right in his press conference when he explained how the rest of the league doesn’t seem particularly interested in catching up with Atleti. “I know York are doing a good job, but they lost last week in the games. You can see Forge are having trouble to win three points,” González said. Currently, it feels as if every side can beat or be beaten. But it’s also true that, had ATO been a little tighter in both boxes like it was to start the season, Atlético Ottawa could have been sitting comfortably as the other clubs fought amongst themselves. Instead, Atleti sit two losses away from being overtaken. In fact, despite the historic run of wins at the start of the season, Atlético Ottawa don’t even lead the league in points claimed at home anymore, with that mantle now falling to York.

Of course, ATO is still first in the league. It’s still been a golden start and a historic first-half of the season. But González said it won’t be easy “from now until the end.” And for that, the club can only look inwards. 

Atleti’s strength will be tested Friday, with a quick turnaround culminating in a meeting with third-place Vancouver FC. We hope to see you at the pub for the 10pm kickoff to keep cheering on the boys and see this game in the rear view. 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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