The Finalists: Malcolm Shaw
In his second season with Atlético Ottawa, Canadian forward Malcolm Shaw leads the club’s standings for goals scored with only 3-games remaining.
The second fan nomination for Capital City Supporters Group’s (CCSG) much coveted “Golden Scarf”, Player of the Season Award, is 26-year-old striker, Malcolm Shaw.
The Pickering, Ontario-native bagged two goals in 2020 “Island Games” in Prince Edward Island, and brought that form into this years’ Canadian Premier League, finding the back of the 9 times in 25 games for a side that have struggled all season.
With an assist also to his name, Shaw’s contributions are even more impressive when you look at the positions and the way he has been asked to play for Head Coach Mista this season.
Typically deployed as a center-forward/striker or on the left side of the three pronged attack throughout his career, Shaw’s position has been closer to a right midfielder in recent months, being asked to not only provide a spark in the final third but also support defensively.
With 9 goals to his name and still 3 matches to go, it’s easy to see why the Atlético Ottawa fans voted for Malcolm Shaw to take home the scarf and the accolades.
Striving despite learning; Atlético Ottawa continued to benefit from Shaw despite adapting to a different position.
Malcolm Shaw’s contributions for the capital city side during their first full season in the Canadian Premier League can’t be measured by simply looking at the goals scored, but that is a very good place to start.
No team has scored fewer times than the Canadian Rojiblancos with 26 goals in 25 games - joint last with playoff contenders HFX Wanderers, highlighting the importance of a strong defence for teams looking to lead the table (at the time of writing, all four times in the play-off spots had the best defences in the league).
Joint third in the goal standings with Pacific FC’s Diaz and Campbell, behind Ongaro from Edmonton and ‘he-who-must-not-be-named-to-Ottawa-fans' on the East Coast; Shaw’s contributions have been essential to keeping some form of hope alive during a difficult season.
Without Shaw’s goals Atlético Ottawa would only have 16 points so far this season and, when examined a little closer, played a big part in the tally even being that high.
His first goal came in a 2-0 victory against Cavalry FC during the “KickOff” in Winnipeg - however, to put this into context, the second goal was scored by local boy Antionine Coupland in the dying minutes of the game. Shaw’s goal was vital in ensuring Atléti picked up their second victory - and the last fans would get to relish until the home opener at TD Place.
Three games later Shaw was on the score sheet again. Forcing a mistake bullying the Pacific FC midfielder off the ball, Shaw was emphatic in his one on one to open the score. Not 10-minutes later, the 26 year-old’s raw strength was on display again, this time hunting down a loose long ball before sitting down McNaughton, followed by Chung - two of the stand out players in an impressive PFC season - and coolly doubling the team’s lead.
As we know, things would fall apart for Atléti after Ben McKendry was given a soft red card for a high boot - but in merely 15 minutes Malcolm Shaw had shown the fans back in Ottawa what kind of player he can be when leading the line.
This made Mista’s decision to bench the 2020 goal of the season scorer, for the newly arrived Raul Uche, even more surprising.
Slightly more cut and dry, the center-forward’s impact during a run of games in which Atléti picked up two wins from 15 encounters meant that although down, Atlético Ottawa refused to be counted out.
Shaw’s goals against HFX Wanderers in the home opener, the 2-2 draw’s against HFX and York and the penalty in the 1-1 draw with York at the start of October earned vital points for Ottleti.
Consistency has been difficult for Malcolm Shaw but his confidence as a player has grown as the season went on, evident by some of the skills he has been showing in recent weeks.
This ability to flourish in a new role speaks volumes of the professional Malcolm Shaw is, not only as a player on the pitch, but as a man off of it - though hopefully he can nail down a position in the near future that naturally compliments his strength rather than having to adapt them.
In 25 appearances the Ottawa number 19 has played up front 10 times, on the wing 9 times and has started on the bench 6 times.
Competition for the top spot has been difficult for Shaw, with Wright on 6 goals and growing in stature, as well as playing for a coach that has been steadfast in his choice for formation (recently changing to a 5-at-the-back line-up) yet relied heavily on squad rotation.
His most efficient position is clearly when leading the line, with 5 goals (1 penalty) but during a season where he has been asked to defend and hug the chalk more than he may have expected, was still able to find 3 goals from the wide position (1 penalty) and the six appearances he made from the bench have only been rewarded with a singular goal (a penalty).
To say that the way Shaw’s offensive capabilities have been utilized this season has been inconsistent is almost an understatement.
From the defensive side of his duties, Malcolm is 7th in most tackles won, 6th in clearances, 5th in recoveries, 4th in duels won and has the most aerial duels won too. His selfless ability to track back and support his full back has not gone unnoticed and, although it may not be a natural part of his game, Shaw has rightfully been the recipient of plenty of praise for his determination.
Malcolm Shaw is the only player who has featured in every game this season and has been a very bright spark in what has been a slightly perplexing first full season for Atlético Ottawa.
The only things fans will be asking for is that the club make sure that the money is put in the right places next year, from behind the scenes to on the pitch. Having just turned 26-years-old Malcolm Shaw is entering his prime and is undoubtedly one we’ll hope the checkbook is thrown before another side in the CPL snap him up.
Check out CCSG's One on One Interview with the "Sharknado" himself Malcolm Shaw. Conducted just prior to the season (Mar 18, 2021)