By Ben Ralph
Photo Credits: Freestyle Photography / Matt Zambonin
Two days on from a massive home win, Atlético Ottawa is once more on the road, this time to take on Cavalry FC. Both teams come into the match in great form, and it should make for an engrossing game. Here are the highlights from Carlos Gonzalez’s pre-match presser:
Ahead of the match on Wednesday, Gonzalez commented on the difficulty of facing a Cavalry side that is unbeaten in three games. Ottawa lost to Cavalry in the reverse fixture, but Gonzalez said Atléti has improved drastically since then.
“I think that the team is growing so much in the last few weeks, and we are seeing that we are having more opportunities or more chances to face any team and have the capability to win them…I think that [Cavalry] are in a good level, but I'm sure that we are going to do a good game and we are going to be in position to win.”
Now almost halfway through the CPL season, Gonzalez took a chance to reflect on what he has seen from his team in the first half of the campaign.
“Little by little we have been developing, we have been growing as individuals. I think that there are many players that started with the level, and they have improved a lot. And I think that we are in a good moment now in a critical moment of the season,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added that he hopes the team will continue to grow to get into playoff contention. A lack of momentum has punctuated Atlético’s form in the first half of the season, but Gonzalez said in recent weeks it’s a momentum that has been growing.
“The team is developing. We are getting better, and we are growing, and this is a reality. And it's true that now we start to win more consistently. So this is, at the end of the day, what shows off that the team is improving and that we are fixing the small problems that we had in the past,” he said
Coach Gonzalez took a shot at the schedule for those who missed it after Atlético handled Valour on Sunday, saying his players are “not machines.” Two days on from that, Gonzalez said his team has focussed on what could be controlled in less than 48 hours before flying to Alberta on Tuesday morning.
“We cannot do much more about it. We've had two days to prepare the game. [Monday] we did a great recovery with the players. Today (Tuesday), we have a good trip and controlling the details. This afternoon we will do another short training in which we will work on details of the game, and at the end of the day, looking for no excuses and looking forward to put the best eleven so that we can fight with big guarantees against Cavalry,” Gonzalez said.
Elaborating on his idea of the “best eleven,” Gonzalez said he doesn't think the “best eleven is always the same eleven.”
“Every single day the demands of the games are different… Only the staff knows how they train and how they react every single day. I think that the good thing is to have a good amount of players that you feel that you can have good performances, Gonzalez said. “In this week in which we have three games in seven days, it's important that some players go out, some players come in and we have good energy,” he added.
Fielding a question on Ollie Bassett, Gonzalez said the league is seeing a “more mature version of Ollie” who has added another dimension to his game.
“I think that the defensive part is a thing that he's worked on a lot also to give a good performance and help the team. Because at the end of the day in this football that we have nowadays, we can not only think in the attacking phase, we have to be good players in both phases.”
Gonzalez said the injury situation remains the same as on Sunday and cautiously addressed the progression of the new signings after playing each for 45 minutes on Sunday. He reiterated that they are progressing toward playing full games “little by little.”
“They will have to give the level expected so that they are in the eleven. At the end of the day, this is going to be now a very interesting battle of inside competitiveness between the players in the team. So this is really good for us, and I'm sure that we will grow as a group a lot.”
Gonzalez said “healthy competitiveness” is a “great chance for the players to test themselves every single training and be better players at the end of the season.”
Kickoff for Atlético Ottawa at Cavalry FC is 8:30 pm at ATCO field, and, as always, the CCSG will be having a live watch-along at the Glebe Central Pub. We hope to see you there!
Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are James Richardson and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.