By Ben Ralph
Photo Credits: Jojo Yanjiao Qian/Forge FC
Sunday night against Forge FC produced what could very well be the CPL game of the season. Atlético struck early in both halves, but some early lapses in concentration in the defensive zone proved costly. Coach Carlos Gonzalez himself admitted it was one of the craziest matches in his coaching career. Here are his thoughts and the thoughts of Maxim Tissot in the post-game press conference following a 4-3 loss to Forge FC:
This fixture is no stranger to big games, so it should not have been surprising that the two clubs traded blows throughout the game. But Gonzalez, who spoke first in the post-match press conference, saying he hadn’t seen a chaotic game since coaching “a team of 12-year-olds.”
Atléti was shaky in the opening half of the game, conceding three goals, including a bizarre own goal. Gonzalez said that his team needed to find balance and stability for what was a much better second half.
“I try to keep the attention on what in other days we've had benefit from at the end of the day: the game plan, tweak the things that we thought that we weren't working and also give the trust to the players at the end of the day, tell them, hey, we are together in this,” he said.
Beyond the words of affirmation to the team, Gonzalez also reflected on the triple-substitution he made at halftime and the instant impact it made on the pitch.
“We decided to change the system to look for superiorities to create from there and find the spaces that we wanted on the game plan,” Gonzalez said. “So I think it worked, but at the end of the day we give up the game like twice. First half and second half.”
Gonzalez said he was disappointed Atlético could not grab more points from a winnable game. He said that, despite a number of positives, there were many moments in which the team did not compete as it should, ultimately costing Atléti the match.
“My feelings are that we are repeating mistakes consistently. So we have to do something. We have to work on those mistakes because every single game we are doing very good things and in too many games we are conceding goals or conceding situations that we shouldn't and we are going home with less points that we should,” he said.
Gonzalez added that it was a lack of concentration that allowed Forge FC to score the winning goal against the run of play. He said his players need to concentrate more when the ball is being crossed from a long ball or set piece. It is something the club has struggled to defend against all season.
Maxim Tissot was the second member of Atlético Ottawa to speak at the post-game press conference, and he shared his frustration with the result.
“(I’m) proud of the fight. But I feel like we've been saying it a lot, our group this year, but the results aren't really there,” he said.
Tissot scored a freekick against his old team, which seemed like it could incite a second-half comeback for Atléti. He said he blamed himself for the second goal, so it felt good to get one back.
“I knew that if I put it over the wall and close to the first post, I knew Triston wouldn't get there. I didn't really see it. Once it got past the wall, I just saw it hit the post. So I wasn't too sure when it went in at first,” he said.
One of the main positives that Tissot emphasized was the belief that Atléti could get back into the match.
“I think the talk at halftime and on the field and the huddle before the second half was, ‘we're still in this,’” he said. “The goals that we conceded were mostly our mistakes. So we knew that if we didn't do any more of those, we would have a chance, and we did.”
If it was a lapse in concentration that hurt Atlético on Sunday, the team will have to be fully focused when they travel to British Columbia to play league-leading Pacific FC. Coach Gonzalez said that, despite the five-day turnaround, his team will be ready.
“Let's grab the positive things. Let's try to tweak certain things that are going to make us more competitive. That at the end of the day, we have to be more competitive. I think that we're going to have the chance to go to Victoria and to do a good game to grab points over there,” Gonzalez said.
Friday's match is another away game, and it will be a late one. Kickoff is at 9:30 pm Friday night against red-hot Pacific FC. Join us, as always, for drinks at the Glebe Central Pub!
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.