By Ben Ralph
Photo Credits: Vancouver FC
It’s back-to-back last-minute heartbreakers as Atlético Ottawa falls to Vancouver FC for the first time this season. At the moment, Atléti seems intent on making the playoff race as tight as possible going into the season's final five weeks, with the Roujiblancos now entering a difficult stretch against Pacific and Wanderers, who sit second and fourth, respectively. Vancouver FC meanwhile staves off playoff elimination for another week with a much-improved side enough to topple ATO. It was a frustrated Carlos Gonzalez and Ollie Bassett breaking down the issues in the post-game presser. Here are all the details:
The Quotes: Ollie Bassett
On how far Vancouver has come: “I want to give full credit to them because they've brought in some good players. [Alejandro Díaz] is probably, in my opinion, the best striker this league's ever seen, and they've managed to get him in from Norway… They look more like a team, maybe, than the start of the season. They were still gelling with individuals that were starting for them, but now I think they're a lot more solid, and they're a tough team to play against, especially at home.”
On playing again Wednesday: “I think after a game like this, it's always important to get another game as quickly as possible. I think it's good that we play Wednesday night. It gives us a few days and a short turnaround to hopefully make things right, so we'll fly back and recover well. And, yeah, we have five huge games left from now until the end of the season.”
On what's changed since ATO’s strong summer form: “I don't think too much has. There's always going to be ups and downs throughout a season. It's very important to never get too high and definitely never get too low. We had a tough start to the season, but we trusted in the players we have in the locker room, and we've been on a really good run of form the last two, three months. We're going to lose games, everyone loses games, but it's about how you react. And we have a good chance on Wednesday to put this one behind us and put things right.”
On whether VFC wanted the win more: “Well, I think first half certainly we were probably a little bit second best. They were winning more of the second balls, and we probably weren't as good as we have been. First half and second half, we pushed and pushed. Game was probably a little bit too open, more open than we would have liked. I think we wanted a bit more control of the game, but at the end of the day, they made it difficult for us, and, yeah, we made a bad giveaway and ultimately got punished. These are the details, and it just comes down to tuning these details to make sure that doesn't happen again.”
The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez
On feelings after the game: “Well, very frustrating. I don't know if you can imagine my feelings at the moment. I think that we didn't do what we had to do today, and two big mistakes penalized us, I guess.”
On allowing VFC’s critical final counter: “We have certain chances to score, and we were pushing more than them... But we have to control better those situations. I think that [being counterattacked] you have to stop them, and you cannot let them play and play and play. And we have to correct those mistakes because, with these type of mistakes, we are not going to compete until the end.”
Looking ahead to Pacific: “I think it's the more positive thing that we have in our heads is that we have in three days another game. It's the only positive things that I see today. Let's see, we have to react because the image of the team is not the appropriate image for the importance of the game of today.”
On the small details that cost the ATO the game: “At the end of the day, if you are not ruthless enough or precise enough in the other team's box and you are soft and weak in defense, this is quite simple, the result, you are not going to grab it. So that's it. We have to analyze a little bit what happened today. We have to demand more from ourselves, and we have to look forward to the Pacific game to try to bounce back from this situation.”
Although CarGo noted having a match in three days as the only positive, here are a few notes that may lift the spirits of Atlético supporters. Firstly, Ollie Bassett's more than slightly fortuitous goal at the weekend now makes him top scorer in the CPL this season, one goal clear of Teran Campbell. Secondly, Pacific FC may lie second in the table, but it hasn’t been without its struggles, winning only one of its last five, including a 1-0 loss at the hands of Atléti a month ago. Finally, ATO will be boosted by a whole host of returning players as it arrives home to TD Place. For a definitive list of the returns, catch the pregame edition of The Forward Press ahead of the Pacific match, which kicks off Sept 13 at 5:30 pm.
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.