2024 CCSG Player Rankings: Matchday 3 vs. HFX Wanderers

2024 CCSG Player Rankings: Matchday 3 vs. HFX Wanderers

Atlético Ottawa made their first road trip of the season, enduring a near-1000-kilometer flight east to visit the Halifax Wanderers. After the morale blow of last week’s 1-1 draw against Cavalry, Ottawa looked primed to stop any sort of early season backslide. Head Coach Carlos Gonzalez made several adjustments to his starting 11, including switching out veteran shot-stopper Nathan Ingham for the 6’7” youngster Rayane Yesli, and giving 32-year-old Maxime Tissot his first start of the campaign. A red card to Halifax’s Callegari set the tone of the match in the first 20 minutes, and after a few scrambles in front of the home side’s net, Ottawa took a 1-0 lead before the first half ended, a lead they would extend to 3-1 by the final whistle. An important and well-fought victory was capped off with some impressive individual performances and the first inklings of what ATO can accomplish when they flow together as a team. Now, onto the ratings:

#99 Rayne Yesli: 6.8

A quiet debut overall for the 24-year old former Valour keeper. He only faced 5 shots, saving 4 before letting one slip by in the 89th minute. A bit of bad luck, and not one he was strictly responsible for, but may be a sign of the teams old habits latching to new talent, as it is the second goal past the 89th minute this year.

Photo Credit: CPL

#15 Maxime Tissot: 7.0

I’ll be the first to say I can be harsh on the Boy from Gatineau, but it comes from a place of respect for the veteran fullback. Over a quarter of the team’s tackles came from Tissot’s boot, and he contributed up and down the left flank with 73 touches. However, he continues to lose the ball easily, and in the twilight of his career, that habit will die hard.

#5 Luke Singh: 6.6

Luke has had a hard time readjusting to Ottawa, for whatever reason that may be. During the trip away from home, Singh felt more controlled, but didn’t contribute much overall. It is worth noting he had a 93% passing accuracy, making 70 of his 75 attempts, so it was nice to have a less controversial performance from the TFC loanee. 

#55 Amer Didic: 6.8

With Halifax only having the ball 45% of the time, our defense didn’t have much to do for most of their time. When they were, Didic did his job just fine. He made 5 clearances and made an important block, but his free kick attempt in the 61’ was arguably wasted, chipping a low center shot right to the waiting hands of Yann Fillion. Hopefully our giant tower of a center back will be more noticeable in the coming games.

#23 Kris Twardek: 7.2

Despite only 59 minutes on the field, Twardek was able to chip in on both ends of play, recording 3 interceptions and a tackle, as well as assisting Manny Aparicio’s 56’ goal. However, an early yellow card and poor performances in 1-on-1 situations prevent him from being rated higher.

#34 Manny Aparicio: 7.6

A constant presence in the midfield, Manny continues to win the hearts and minds of Ottawa fans. With his second goal in three matches, his importance in attack cannot be understated. For me, it’s his seemingly unnoticed efforts in transition that impress most. He landed a pair of important interceptions, and a pair of tackles to boot. For having a relatively few touches overall, Manny made sure that both teams knew he was there on the pitch as the standard to achieve.

Smiles all around // Photo Credit: CPL

#33 Aboubacar Sissoko: 7.2

A regular critique of Sissoko since joining ATO has been his unusual positioning. He seemingly would roam the pitch in a fog without a lantern. But once his feet touched the pitch on Saturday, he clearly had a mission to accomplish. Abou ended his full 90 with three tackles, a pair of blocked shots, an interception and 5 won ground duels. He was also able to get a fiery outside-the-box shot in, and 75% accuracy on long balls.

#22 Matteo de Brienne: 7.0

A good day overall for the local boys on the team. The youngster recorded the assist on the opening goal and was dominant in the air on the left flank. His trio of interceptions also helped keep the ball moving away from our debuting keeper. However, poor passing, limited touches, and a hard time winning duels on the ground kept him from getting more done before his 81st minute substitution.

#10 Ollie Bassett: 7.6

The engine of the team continues to chug along. While he didn’t have any direct goal contributions, Ollie’s 96% passing accuracy (52/54), which includes 100% accuracy on long balls, ensured Ottawa walked out of the Wanderer’s Ground with all 3 points. His endgame substitution was well earned, as the Ginger from Packington maintains the skill levels that make him one of the top talents of the CPL.

#13 Ballou Tabla: 8.0

THIS was the Ballou we were looking for. 7 shots in 38 minutes, including the third and final ATO goal. His rocket to the top right bin shut down any hopes of Halifax making a comeback, and he was even able to join the defense by adding 3 won ground duels to his stat block. Add in a 91% passing and a noticeable change in his approach to his game, and it becomes crystal clear why Tabla is this humble writer’s Man of the Match.

Photo Credit: CPL

#19 Ruben Del Campo: 7.0

As if it was written by the fates, our new number 19 scored on his nineteenth appearance for Ottawa. After joining late in 2023, Del Campo has been trying hard to net his first goal in Canada, and finally succeeded when he opened the scoring in the 39th minute. After a scramble in front of Fillion, de Brienne delivered a fast ball to Ruben, who put a left-footed shot in at the net, rolling it into the lower left corner. He added two more shots later in the game, but wasn’t able to bag a second before leaving the match in the 72nd minute. Aside from his first goal, Del Campo was nearly silent all game with only 4 pass attempts and fifteen touches total.

#21 Alberto Zapater: 6.2

Zapater seemed to struggle to get himself going when he came onto the pitch for Twardek in the 59’. Despite a perfect passing record of 19/19, El Toro couldn’t get himself stuck in, and his age started to show itself a little. He lagged behind play ever so slightly, and was relegated to watching from just outside the range he could be effective from.

#11 Gabriel Antinoro: 7.0

Ah, to be young and have good knees. The 20-year-old Brasiliense midfielder came onto the pitch alongside Sam Salter in the 72nd minute of play, replacing Del Campo and bringing a much-needed injection of energy to the side. Less than a minute later, he set up Tabla for his tap-in goal. The impact sub remained a presence for the remainder of the game, winning 5 of his 9 ground duels and recording a pair of tackles.

#9 Sam Salter: 6.0

Salter came into the game with less than 20 minutes remaining against his former team and gave what could best be described as a default performance. He had nine touches overall, including three passes and a shot on net that was handily saved. His biggest contribution would be his singular won aerial duel.

#4 Tyr Walker: NR

Another cameo from Tyr, and another 9 minutes of U21 banked. Tyr wasn’t involved in anything in any noteworthy way. He had 2 passes, and a single tackle.

#2 Zachary Roy: NR

A regrettable 9 minutes of playtime for the 20-year-old defender. His poor marking allowed HFX’s Riley Ferrazzo a clear shot on net, which he buried into the bottom right to make the final score 3-1, costing Yesli a clean sheet on his debut. Roy otherwise had only a single touch all game, the only CPL statistic recorded to him since August 18th, 2023, aside from the additional 9 minutes of U21 time his cameo afforded.

"A solid win and one against a traditionally competitive rival" // Photo Credit: CPL

To be frank, nothing short of a win would be accepted here, and Ottawa delivered. While some mistakes were made, especially late in the game, ATO got the work done and secured the needed points. The biggest takeaway continues to be the conceding of last-minute goals. While we still won in the end, the only goal scored against came in the embers. Why is this? Does Ottawa lose the stamina to play after 85 minutes? The lack of depth at defense, a situation decidedly alien to the club, has certainly added to the problem. Despite three of our five substitutes being defensive-minded choices, the goal still came, and only after they took the pitch. Ultimately, it’s easy to criticize the coaching decisions, when you substitute someone or change tactics, it’s easy to latch onto. In this case, however, the problem doesn’t come from a single staff but a systemic issue of lopsided team construction. Ottawa has a history of overloading one play section and leaving the other units to pull themselves up. While we can now benefit from a better-attacking group, our defense has paid the price. Overall, this is a game the team and the fans should be proud of. A solid win and one against a traditionally competitive rival, but one that allowed our cracks to be seen in a brighter light.

About Joey

Joey Huneault has worn many hats since joining CCSG in 2022. Starting as a member of After the Whistle's writing staff, he then became the co-host of the spinoff show The Locker Room. Currently, he is guest hosting After the Whistle and is the Director of Watch Parties.

Outside of CCSG, Joey is a youth coach with Nepean Hotspurs SC, holding his Canadian Soccer for Life certificate, and English Level 1 badge.

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