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The Forward Press: ATO seek Vancouver sweep as stakes rise

By Ben Ralph

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

Atlético Ottawa are looking to bounce back with a win at Willoughby this weekend. Vancouver FC is a tricky opponent (especially given some mid-season transfer activity), with Carlos Gonzalez saying he will not be taking VFC for granted come Saturday night. The Eagles have taken points off of every other team in the CPL this season, though have been heavily outscored in every previous matchup against ATO. Carlos Gonzalez joined the pregame presser on Thursday afternoon, and here is what he had to say:

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On what he makes of VFC: “[They are] not going to be an easy opponent. Although we see them down in the table, they have plenty of good players, and they are capable of doing really good games. We've seen them in the past, winning against Forge and against Pacific, so we have to be on alert. It's not going to be an easy game, and we go there with a lot of ambition to bounce back from [last week].”

On losing Shaw (Int. Duty) and Salter (yellow-card accumulation): “I think that we have plenty of players that are capable to score, to create and to make the team successful… We have plenty of tools and solutions that made us be comfortable and think that although we don't have those players available that we can create and we can score plenty of goals.”

On maintaining defensive stability while losing defenders: “We've had Miguel out throughout the season, and we've grabbed results without Miguel; we've grabbed results without Espejo. I don't think the strength of the team is any individual player. The strength of the team is the unit, and the team is defending well as a unit. If you have the ball and you have the control of the game in possession, probably, they will have less chances.”

On the Sacko injury: “At the end of the day, the only things that make a player stronger are experiences that start to shape your personality as a professional player. So I don't see these things as only negative points. I think that also the negative things have positive points, and I'm sure that Sacko and other players that come from injury, they will come stronger and they will be more mature and they will improve, for sure.”

While Gonzalez said that Sacko continues to be “getting there,” he was more optimistic about a potential return for Diego Espejo, who has been out since August 5 with an injury. Gonzalez said it would be a “last-minute decision” on whether or not he travels with the team to British Columbia. Although he did not seem entirely convinced it at least means Espejo will be heavily considered for Wednesday’s massive home clash against Pacific FC. Meanwhile, Luke Singh is also unavailable due to yellow-card accumulation.

Gonzalez also touched on improving the details to close out games, especially the particularly cagey matchups recently. In truth, it does feel like anyone could beat anyone at this point in the season, with six teams still majorly vying for playoff spots and nobody showing any signs of budging. Every game is now a must-watch because the stakes have never been higher, with ATO-VFC being no different. So come down to the Glebe Central Pub for drinks and for a cozy 10 p.m. kickoff. Hope to see you there!

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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