The Forward Press:  Twardek’s vision and a Manny of the match as ATO beat York

The Forward Press:  Twardek’s vision and a Manny of the match as ATO beat York

As the calendar clicked closer to matchday one and the Atléti build looked close to complete, one glaring question still remained — who could step into the massive gap left on the pitch and in our hearts when Saint Miguel Acosta returned to Spain? Jonathan Grant appeared to be a worthwhile band-aid until the news of his injury came back from Mexico. But, albeit in a small sample size, Atleti supporters will feel like that gap has been filled, especially when Kris Twardek side-footed home a volley high up the pitch to win the match yesterday. 

It was a surprise to see the auxiliary fullback so deep in the opposition half, though Twardek admitted he may have been the least surprised person in the stadium. His controlled finish and wild celebrations capped off a dramatic opening day victory over Austin Ricci and York United, while Manny Aparicio also starred in the match as he thumped home a close-range header to tie the game, and made an alert tackle before floating the ball to the back post for the waiting Twardek. Coach Carlos Gonzalez was joined by match-winner and growing fan-favourite Kris Twardek in the first post-match presser of the year. Here’s everything you need to know:

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

Photo © Phil Larivière

On starting the season on a win: “Wins give you air, air to breathe. So this is important to start winning: to be calm, to know and acknowledge that we've done nothing, that we're still building a team, that we still have to work on so many things. But at the same time, it's good to see that a tough game, like the game that we had today, we were capable to bounce back and to grab the three points at home.”

On growing as a team: “I think that individually, we didn't do a top game. None of the players were in their best version today. But [even still, we were] capable to win the game, so that's a very important thing…I think that we still have room for the improvement individually, and of course, room for the improvement collectively.”

On the Manny of the match: “He's pure energy. He's contagious as a player. He's a player that maybe the rest are not playing in the better level and that he creates good synergies and good dynamics into the game. I'm very happy having players like Manny, players like Didic, players like Kris, like Matteo. This sense of belonging, this type of players that they wanted to be here this season, this is very important to have. They had many offers, they had many opportunities to be in other places, but they decided to be here.”

On the over 4,000 fans in attendance: “The atmosphere was great, as always. But especially today, I think that they deserve a big applause because it was a tough day: windy, rainy. So it wasn't the best day to be out there, cheering the team and helping from the stands. So as I say always, we are very proud of the fan base that we have. We want to keep on growing on that. We want to make them feel that they're part of the team. I think that with the players we have this season and the work that we are doing, we are going to be able to make them enjoy a lot.”

The Quotes: Kris Twardek

On a literal ‘dream debut’: “It was pretty awesome. I actually, honestly, had a vision the day before that something like that could happen just because all my friends and family were right in that section, probably about 100 of them. And as soon as I scored, I just went blind, ran right towards them. But it was pretty special.”

On the knee-slide aftermath: “The knees are all right. I have a bit of a Charlie horse just above it. So that whole leg's in a bit of a state at the moment.”

On yanking Luke Singh from a scrum: “He was on a yellow card at the time. And I think in any situation that you're on a yellow card, if there's that kerfuffle, a smart, intelligent player on the other team is probably going to try and poke the bear. So the last thing you want is your centre back getting sent off before the second half.”

On playing at right back: “Through the preseason, that's been my role. I've played it in Poland and Slovakia as well. And my style as a winger was always box-to-box, aggressive. I came through Millwall's Academy, which was just a 4-4-2, really aggressive, massive blue-collar club. So it's a natural transition. It's something that I'm looking forward to taking on through the season.”

Photo © Phil Larivière

Twardek’s celebration was a wild affair, moving seamlessly between a knee slide in front of his family to being mobbed by his teammates. He then ran back to his half as he shushed the York side, something he coyly explained away in the presser as “a bit of internal stuff.” Thankfully the rest he was less bashful about, highlighting the chemistry within the team as “a really healthy environment.” CarGo was also considerably more optimistic than in his pre-game as he rode the emotion of a second-ever win over York and, most surprisingly, his first-ever league comeback.

Hopefully the positive team dynamic Twardek mentioned will only grow as ATO stays in the nation's capital this week awaiting a visit from Cavalry FC. It will also be an opportunity to welcome back Malcolm Shaw, who found just under ten minutes of playing time in his first match for Cavalry as Cavs kicked off its season in a loss to Forge. TD Place Stadium will next see action on April 20 at 2 pm, with drinks before (and after) at the GCP. We hope to see you there!

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