By Ben Ralph
Photo Credits: Freestyle Photography / Tim Austen and others
There’s something in the air around this Atlético team, and it’s not just the smoke that drifted into Ontario earlier in the week. Atleti has been slowly building momentum over the past fixtures, and a challenging match against York United FC will be a true acid test of Carlos Gonzalez’s squad. Gonzalez joined an abbreviated pre-game press conference from Toronto to discuss the recent positive feelings around the team and the difficult match ahead. Here are the main points:
Gonzalez started the press conference by elaborating on the atmosphere amongst the squad following last week's performance.
“Atmosphere of the group is quite similar. They're training really well with great commitment, and once they start to train every single day in the field, they have the appropriate focus, and they know that it's not about one game, it's about giving consistency and repeat it,” he said.
Gonzalez admitted that air conditions in the week have proved a “big issue” in preparation for the match.
“We had to reschedule some training days. One of them was in indoor. It has been a bad situation, but not only for us, for every single person in the area in Ottawa because it was unhealthy to be outside and to breathe that air but now it's forgotten. We've given step forward, and, yeah, we've tried to prepare the game in the best way. So today we have a great chance to train here in the field that we are playing tomorrow and prepare for the game.”
York United FC is undefeated in its last four games and sits comfortably at third in the league. Gonzalez shared his thoughts on York, including what it will take to break them down on Friday.
“They are a team that have great individuals that they don't need too much to score and win games...They're being solid and compact. You can see that they have a great commitment in defense and after that they have always people up front that they can solve games,” Gonzalez said. “We have to control those individuals and we have to control all those details.”
Gonzalez then returned to discussing his own team. After a start to the season, which saw many different faces playing in numerous positions, Gonzalez has played the same starting eleven for the past two matches. Despite this, he said he is hesitant to put together an established starting lineup.
“I don't think it's about lineups, I think it's about what the people on the field can give to the team. Sometimes you repeat lineups and the people on the field, they don't give the same the day before. I think this happened a few weeks ago”
Gonzalez said that the team must capitalize on their momentum. He admitted that making too many changes could be a detriment to performances.
“The players are creating synergies between them. So I think that we are in a moment that if things work, we cannot go crazy and start to change too much. At the end of the day… we are going to try to continue that and we are going to try to have a good performance tomorrow and to grab the three points.”
Gonzalez highlighted two players who will be important to Atlético in coming fixtures: Malcolm Shaw and Carl Howarth. On Shaw, Gonzalez discussed the increased confidence since his Trinidad and Tobago call-up.
“I think that Malcolm is in a good moment. The idea is that everybody gets into that moment, not only one player, because at the end of the day, this is a team sport, and we will need the eleven players having a good performance,” he said.
For Howarth, it was the impact the Atleti skipper has had on the squad since his return from injury. Howarths return has coincided with the recent run of improved performances. Gonzalez said he was looking forward to seeing him in a greater capacity than just late second-half substitutions. “This would be great news for the team,” he said.
Before the game against Halifax last week, Gonzalez predicted at least two goals per game in June for the CCSG Prideraiser campaign. His prediction came to fruition against Halifax, and hopefully, he will be correct again when the dust settles after the match against York United FC.
Kickoff is on Friday, June 9th, at 7:30 pm at York Lions Stadium. We hope to see you at the Glebe Central Pub for the CCSG live watch-along!
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.