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The Forward Press: Familiar faces bolster ATO back-line ahead of Valour Match

By Ben Ralph

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

The soaring Atlético Ottawa take on Valour FC on Friday, hoping to jump up into second in the league before the weekend. The return of Spanish duo Acosta and Espejo and last weekend's win against Pacific has brought high spirits to the capital city club. Still, Atlético cannot risk complacency against a Valour team that shocked Cavalry last weekend, turning around a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. Coach Carlos Gonzalez joined the pregame presser ahead of the trip to Winnipeg. Here are the details:

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On Valour: “I think that they've changed, a little bit, the dynamic from where they were and where they want to be. So we have to be capable to freeze them a little bit, to make them remember that they were not in a good streak and to play our game… We know that one of the biggest strengths are the wings. The flanks, how they attack, the flanks, how they cross. So we have to keep an eye on that, we have to try to control it and you will see tomorrow how do we do it.”

On Atlético ranking last in touches in the opposition's box away from home: “It's true that we have to improve on that because at the end of the day, you cannot only think in having a clean sheet to win a game. So we've worked on that the few days that we have a preparation… It's only about tweaking and touching the small details that are going to make us be a more complete team.”

On the continued injuries to the back line: “It's bad luck that at the beginning of the season, we have a couple of injuries in the same position, but now it's a consequence of that lack of deepness in that position that is creating problems for the players that are playing in that position. But I'm really calm. I think that we can trust perfectly the team. The players that are getting into the defense are showing that they are as good as the players that are not playing.”

On the injured list: “Well, Max Tissot and Abou Sacko are still working on that recovery. I hope that next week we will have them with the team. Niba McDonald, he's having a little bit of problems and yeah, we bring Miguel also. So Miguel is back and yeah, at the end of the day, one are going out, one are going in.”

On the squad emotion following Pacific: “We celebrate one day, two days and we move on because we know that this league is about what you have in front of your face. The reality is that if you do two bad games, you are going to be down again. And at the moment we've only done what we're supposed to do. We are in position to be contenders for everything and this was one of our main targets at the beginning of the season.”

Valour isn’t yet out of an uber-competitive playoff race, but it will be big games like these that they will want to win if they hope to squeak into the postseason over the next nine games. IG Field has been a tricky place for ATO to play over the years, yet Carlos Gonzalez had a twinkle in his eye when he told us, “You will see tomorrow” how he chooses to fend off the pacey wingers of Valour. Given the revolving door of injuries, absences, and returns, seeing the starting eleven he chooses to field will be interesting.

The kickoff for Friday's match (Tonight!) is 8 pm, and, as always, the CCSG watch party will be out in full force at the Glebe Central Pub to cheer Atleti towards another positive result away from home. We 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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