Canadian Championship 2022 – Preliminary Round
Atlético Ottawa vs York United FC
May 10, 2022 at 7 p.m. ET
TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, Ontario
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Atlético Ottawa are aiming to win their first-ever Canadian league title in a preliminary round match against York United at TD Place Stadium on Tuesday night.
Ottawa’s only game in the competition to date came last year, when they lost 3-2 at home to Valor FC. Austin Ricci, who now plays for York and could make his first start of the season on Tuesday, had two goals for the Winnipeg side to end Atlet’s first cup campaign.
Fast forward a year and the losses to Valor are still big in the memory. A one-sided 6-1 drubbing against the Winnipeg side late last month started a run of three consecutive winless games for Ottawa in the Canadian Premier League leading up to this meeting with York.
But while the game will come just three days after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Pacific, Carlos González and Atleti are already trying to turn the tide.
“The reality is we’re excited, yesterday we closed the book of the league and started opening the book of the league [Canadian] Championship,” said González. “I think we’re getting to where we want to be, we have to be proud of a lot of things that we’re improving.”
York, on the other hand, will be full of confidence after beating Forge 1-0 on Friday. They have not lost to Halifax since the opening day of the season and are now second in the Canadian Premier League.
The Nine Stripes have actually only met a Canadian Premier League side once in the previous two rounds of this competition, in a 3-2 (over two legs) win over Edmonton FC in 2019. Last year’s tournament was for It was a roller coaster of sorts after an impressive 5-0 win over League1 Ontario’s Master’s FA before a 4-0 defeat by local rivals Toronto FC at BMO Field.
New manager Martin Nash is no stranger to success in this competition, having served as an assistant to a Cavalry team, upsetting the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2019 and becoming the first CPL team to defeat MLS opponents. He will try to do the same this year but has to get through Ottawa first and should York progress, Pacific FC will play both games.
“I think first of all it’s a great competition and I think it means a lot every year,” Nash says, later adding: “[thisisagamewewanttothroweverythingatbecausewereallywanttoadvanceinthiscompetition”[AufdiesesSpielwollenwirallesgebenweilwirindiesemWettbewerbwirklichvorankommenwollen“[thisisagamewewanttothroweverythingatbecausewereallywanttoadvanceinthiscompetition”
Ottawa and York certainly won’t be strangers when they take to the field on Tuesday after meeting at York Lions Stadium in Canada’s Premier League just two weeks ago. That game ended 2-2, with Dominick Zator scoring a controversial late goal to split the points between the two sides.
In single-elimination cup competitions, form is lost in many ways. But draws have been the only constant in games between these two teams. Six of the seven games they played against each other ended evenly.
Draws are obviously not possible in the Canadian championship. If history repeats itself between these two teams and the game remains even after 90 minutes, it will go straight to penalties.
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All CPL games can be streamed OneSocceror on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980. All Atlético Ottawa games are also available in french on OneSoccer.
3 THINGS TO SEE
- Nash with more options available: Part of what made this week’s win over Martin Nash’s York United’s Forge so impressive was how thin their squad was for the game. While it’s a quick turnaround for the Nine Stripes this Friday through Tuesday, they should have a larger roster traveling to Ottawa. While Nash didn’t fully show his cards on who’s available, it sounds like centre-back Roger Thompson is making good progress. York will also be given another attacking option with 24-year-old Argentinian Lisandro Cabrera available. “We’ve had two training sessions with him and he’s done pretty well, yes he’s in the squad now,” Nash said. Austin Ricci, who came on as a substitute in the last two games, could be in line for his first start of the season. Ricci had two shots on target and four touches inside the box in 39 minutes off the bench against Forge.
- Ottawa begins to form an identity: While Ottawa, as mentioned, are without a win in their last three games, they can draw plenty of confidence from a 1-0 loss to Pacific at the weekend. They managed 11 shots on target against the league leaders while keeping Pacific on two over the course of 90 minutes. It was the best example yet of the identity they’ve been trying to forge since the start of the season: a determined side that sits back and is hard to break while also being deadly on the break. “What they do, they do very well,” Nash said. “They have a really well organized defense and they counterattack really well. They have two, actually three, very good offensive characters that come out quite well in the transition. We have to be good in the defensive transition and find ways to break them.”
- Will we see more magic from the Ballou Tabla Canadian Championship? Although his club and coach are new to the Canadian Championship, Ballou Tabla has a long and colorful history in the competition. In his debut season with the Montreal Impact, the then 18-year-old Tabla scored a brilliant goal in the 2017 Canada Championship final that his club later lost 3-2 on aggregate. Last year, he scored two late goals in the quarterfinals, including the winner as Montreal beat HFX 3-1 en route to winning the competition. With two Canadian league titles and two direct Canadian Premier League team of the week appearances, could more tabla magic be in store for you? One thing to watch is how Ottawa decides to use him throughout the game. He has played mainly as a right-back so far this season, but against Pacific he played up front with particularly promising results. “I think Ballou is a player with good experience,” González said, “that he can play in different positions, a little bit wider, a little bit inside or more like a false striker, and we’re happy that he’s one more versatile Player that he can give us things from all areas of the field.
“We look forward to making a good competition step by step. Tomorrow we have York, we know it’s going to be a tough game. But we are motivated to keep going lap after lap. And who knows? I think this competition can be a great experience, great games against MLS clubs, so it’s a great opportunity.” – Carlos González, Atlético Ottawa head coach
“I think we’re going to really go against them, I think it’s a big game and I think we want to play, we want to compete against teams. So I think we’re going to go towards them from the start, put pressure on them and see if we can score an early goal.” – Martin Nash, York United head coach