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Adios Miguel - A Farewell to an ATO Legend

By Patrick Gibson

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

In the nascent days of any football club, cult heroes are bound to emerge, players and coaches who are held in the highest regard by those present on the ground floor of a sporting experience. Regardless of how far the club grows or the successes it achieves, the first wave of players will always have a special place in the hearts of the most dedicated of supporters. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to one of Atlético Ottawa’s own original shining lights, Miguel Acosta. Despite him not having been on the roster for the Island Games, I still designate him as an “original”, as he was one of only three players on the 2023 roster to have been with the team under the club’s first manager, Mista. As supporters, we have run the full gamut of emotions over the last three years, and Miguel was there for all of it. It’s unfortunate to now have to look back fondly at his time with the club, knowing that he won’t be here to continue building on his legacy, but I do take a little solace in being able to reflect on his contributions with joy and not discontent.

Source: CPL

There aren’t that many pleasant memories from the 2021 season, in fact I have few if any memories at all about the first season played at TD Place, but any story about how Miguel made his name in the Canadian Premier League has to make some reference to its beginnings. Starting in 27 of 28 games in his inaugural season with the club, Miguel was deployed more frequently as a left back than as the right back we had become familiar with over the last two seasons under Carlos Gonzalez. Much as with the rest of the team, his overall level of play didn’t match the heights that he would reach in 2022, but the glimpses of what he could become were certainly present. From my seat at home games in 2021, he jumped out as an immediate favourite of mine in and amongst a collection of disappointments,both as a one-on-one defender and with a bit of attacking presence when the team deployed him as a wingback towards the end of the season, to various degrees of success.

Source: CPL

As with the rest of the side, 2022 was where Miguel truly began to shine in the eyes of supporters. Provided with the stability of a consistent position in the starting XI and an improved defensive core, Miguel was able to shine in a way that was noticeable to fans but still somewhat overlooked by the rest of the league. Being named to the CPL team of the week four times in 2022 was an acknowledgement of his talent, but the fact that none of those awards came in the back half of the season when Atlético Ottawa cemented its position atop the CPL table on route to winning the CPL Shield feels like an oversight. His ability to defend the dangerous wingers that were appearing everywhere throughout the league only grew in his second year in the capital, and that he didn’t make a single error that led to a goal or shot over an entire year speaks to his consistency. Throughout the season I was excited to see him defend from my vantage point in the Dub, with raucous cheers erupting after each of his many successful defensive efforts. With these plaudits came a deserved new nickname for our beloved defensive savior: “San Miguel”.

The beginning of the 2023 season added an entirely new dimension to my appreciation for what Miguel brought to a football club. With the offseason recruitment failure to bring in a defensive midfielder, it was up to him to fill a role that he hadn’t, to that point, ever played at a professional level. While the results were predictably all over the place in terms of performance, his unselfishness to fill that role established himself to the supporters as a leader and as a player willing to sacrifice personal success. That he was forced to the sidelines with injury following his return to the defense was cruel for a side that was struggling with other injuries in those positions. Ultimately, for what would be his final season, it was the combination of these moments of leadership and the success of his return in defense that led CCSG to award him the 2023 Golden Scarf. 

Over the last three years, I have not been attached to a player more than I have been to Miguel. Part of this comes from having played as a (terrible) fullback throughout the time I’ve spent on a pitch, and as a result feeling the general lack of appreciation that the position gets in comparison to essentially every other role in an XI. Even with that caveat, Miguel leaves with his name firmly cemented in ATO’s history books. As it stands, he is the all-time leader in appearances with 85, and is on the club’s top-10 lists for both goals and assists, with four and six respectively. Much with the club itself, there were ups and downs in his time here in the nation’s capital, but I couldn’t have imagined a more valiant servant to the club. I think I speak for the entire fanbase when I say that we wish we didn’t have to say goodbye, and I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for wherever Miguel’s career takes him. 

Mucha suerte de su familia canadiense.  


About Patrick

Having joined CCSG in 2022, Patrick started his footie career playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros around the same time. While the first pro team he supported was Manchester United, as soon as Atlético Ottawa came to town, he was immediately on board. His wealth of footie knowledge has been a constant asset, along with his role as caretaker for Atléti Wikipedia pages.

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