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The Forward Press: ATO returns to TD place to take on Valour FC, with new reinforcements

By Ben Ralph

Photo Credits: Phil Larivière

The only reason not to be excited for Sunday afternoon at TD Place is if you are a Valour FC fan. Atlético Ottawa returns home from a testing road trip and will be greeted by faces both new and familiar. Malcolm Shaw and Luke Singh have returned from the Gold Cup, but it will no doubt be the highly anticipated first appearances of summer signings Alberto Zapater and Rubén Del Campo which will have fans on their feet on Sunday. Here are the highlights from the pregame presser with Carlos Gonzalez:

Gonzalez began the presser by breaking down the weekend's opposition. He said playing against Valour is “always a tough game.”

Photo Credits: Phil Larivière

“They make games uncomfortable to the opponent. So I feel that I'm going to find a similar game on Sunday. But we look forward to do a good game, in which we find the ways to break them in which we can have three points,” he said.

All eyes will be on Atléticos, two new signings from Spain, Rubén Del Campo and Alberto Zapater. Gonzalez was happy to discuss what they offer to Atlético Ottawa,

“Rubén is a player that I know well because I coached him a couple of years in an Atlético Madrid Academy in the under 18 and under 19… He's a player with different characteristics than the other ones that we have,” Gonzalez said. “And Zapater. Well, a great addition for the team in a position that we were needed, a position that we had an empty spot over there. So it's going to be great to play with a specific midfielder and the type of player that he is, a player with great experience, a player that is going to add competitiveness to the team, that is going to share that experiences that he has along his career with the teammates.”

Photo Credits: Phil Larivière

Alongside the new signings will be the return of Luke Singh and Malcolm Shaw, who returned to training from international duty earlier in the week. Gonzalez said he was happy to have the players back but also pleased they could go and experience international football.

With two more strikers in the squad than last week, Sam Salter will now be under pressure to hold on to the striker spot. But Gonzalez said he was encouraged by what he saw last month.

“(Sam) took the opportunity… He’s growing little by little and it’s true that maybe the last few matches, his performances are much better than at the start of the season. So looking forward to continuing this development not only of some of the other players so that we can be a better team,” Gonzalez said.

Following a testing two-week road trip, Gonzalez said it is not only good to be back in Ottawa but extra motivation for the squad.

“I think that we have to make a fortress from TD place. We have to be very strong here this season and also we've shown that we are by grabbing good results in the last games here at home against Halifax. And so looking forward to add by three again and to give a good afternoon to the people that come to the TD to see us, to the fans, to the supporters looking forward to a good game and at the end of the day to have the win.”

At the beginning of June, Carlos Gonzalez predicted ten goals from Atlético Ottawa to go towards the CCSG Prideraiser event. With the event being a major success and his prediction only off by a goal, Gonzalez was asked if he would once again provide a goal prediction for the month. Gonzalez said that he was happy with the scoring and that the team has to “focus on the defensive part.”

“We have to focus on being more competitive and conceding a little bit less. But yeah, answering your question, I think that between eight and eleven should be a good amount of numbers in this month to have the results that we are looking for,” Gonzalez said.

With his final note in the press conference, Gonzalez provided an injury update. He admitted that, despite progress in their recovery, Maxim Tissot and Gianni Dos Santos will once more be unavailable against Valour but may return mid-week in time for Cavalry.

Sunday afternoon looks to be a famous night for Atlético Ottawa. If you’re going to get out to a game this season, this very well may be the game to go to. We hope to see you there and at the Glebe Central Pub before and after the game for drinks with the CCSG!

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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