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The Forward Press: ATO look to bounce back against VancouverFC

By Ben Ralph

Photo Credits: Beau Chevalier / VancouverFC, Atlético Ottawa

It’s game day on Saturday as Carlos Gonzalez’s Atlético Ottawa side faces a Vancouver FC team that sits last in the league and hasn’t won since April. Returning to TD Place Stadium, Gonzalez will no doubt be hoping for a similar outcome to the 5-0 thrashing Atléti inflicted on Vancouver in Langley a month ago. Here are the main points from his pre-game presser:

As a whole, Vancouver FC is still an unknown quantity around the league and has experienced a considerable amount of chop and change so far this season. Gonzalez was asked what his expectations were for the game and how it might differ from the slanted scoreline last time the two clubs met.

Photo Credits: Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC

“I think that it's going to be a completely different game because of the different circumstances that happen from that game until now. And also, I felt that that game was like a perfect game for us. So the reality is that I cannot expect a perfect game,” he said.

Gonzalez said Atléti must prepare for a “tough game.”

“I'm sure that they're going to be solid. I'm sure that they're going to try to grab points, and I'm sure that they are not going to try to make an easy game for us,”

Gonzalez said that the last time the two teams met, the first goal was crucial in changing the dynamic of the game.

If Atlético Ottawa is going to grab the first goal in the game on Saturday, it will have to be without the help of striker Malcolm Shaw. Shaw is currently away on international duty with Trinidad and Tobago in preparation for the Gold Cup later in the month. Gonzalez said he is confident in his other attackers in Shaw's absence.

Photo Credits: Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC

“I think we've scored a couple of goals from different players. I think that the total goals of the team are divided by many players in many different situations. So I have 100% confidence in the players that we have,” Gonzalez said. “They're going to give us opportunities, and they're going to give us success.”

Atléti could also be buoyed by the return of a few familiar faces. When asked for updates on the injuries to Niba MacDonald, Aboubakary Sacko, and Nathan Ingham, Gonzalez responded positively but cautiously.

Photo Credits: Atlético Ottawa via Twitter

“We still have to train this afternoon, and we will make final decisions about all the players, but I think that all of them are going to be able to participate, so I will have the final decision,” he said.

It’s good news for Atléti, and Gonzalez said that, despite a tough result on the road last week, Atlético Ottawa can return to TD Place Stadium feeling that it is on the right track.

“The team are doing many good things, and I think that in many moments of the game, we're showing a great face in attack with different possibilities and also defensively.”

He added that there are still details to be improved, particularly how Atléti allows opposing teams to create big chances.

“We have to be a little bit more careful on those details, compete better in certain moments of the game that are very important, and yeah, at the end of the day, show a more competitive image of the team,” he said.

Photo Credits: Atlético Ottawa via Twitter

Finally, the press conference ended on a lighter note. Gonzalez shared his thoughts on what will be a special afternoon as the club celebrates a number of organizations, including the Caldwell Family Centre, Deborah Dynes Family House, and the third consecutive Ottawa Potcake Rescue. Gonzalez said community events like Bruce's Big Night are very important to the Atlético Ottawa identity.

“It's not only growing the team in the field, it's growing the team outside the field, the club, and trying to do things for the community to give them back what they give to us every single weekend,” Gonzalez said.

He added that while he is not a big pet owner, he has previously had fish and a canary, facts which will certainly pop up sometime in ATO trivia in the future.

Kickoff is at 2 pm at TD Place Stadium on Saturday. We hope to see you for drinks pre-game at the Glebe Central Pub!

Photo Credits: Atlético Ottawa via Twitter

About Ben

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.

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