By Ben Ralph
Photo Credits: Phil Larivière
After a breathless 3-3 draw at home last weekend, Atlético Ottawa travel to Pacific to try and knock points off the league leaders. Despite the choke-hold Pacific appeared to have on the league only a month ago, ATO will be encouraged by how the Tridents stumbled through July, particularly at home. James Merriman’s men haven’t won at Starlight in three games, and an Atlético Ottawa win would draw the gap to 5 points. Carlos Gonzalez joined the pregame presser to share how he intends to triumph over the Tridents:
The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez
On how playing at Starlight Stadium conjures high-scoring games: “The field in Victoria is not a very big pitch, so it’s the pitch that makes it tougher to create organized situations and maybe a little easier in transitions because there are less meters to get to the opponents net.”
On how Sunday against Pacific will be different from previous matches: “We are in a critical moment of the season - only ten games to play, so the details are going to start to be very important and I think that both teams are going to focus as if it’s a final because now its going to be decisive every single point we play for.”
On the relationship between Ottawa’s three current strikers: “There is a very healthy competition between them. You can see it in the training sessions that they acknowledge that now getting the starting spot is each time harder and more difficult. So they are training in a really good level and they are really good teammates. The atmosphere in the locker room is great. And we’re in a good moment in which they know that they are going to be important and that they are going to have their moments.”
On the success of ‘Atlético Ottawa in the Community’ events: “All these initiatives in which we are involved with the community are great because these create links with them and then they return it back by coming and supporting the team on the weekends. I’m very glad to see young faces in the stands every single game at home. This means that they are the future of the sport in the country and I’m very happy for that.”
On Forge (3rd), York (5th) and Halifax (6th) all playing on Saturday: “It’s true that we keep an eye on what the other teams do and also how they play, because also next week we play against Forge. So we are always paying attention to what we have on our hands…But of course we will watch the games of this round and see what happens.”
If ATO are to shut down Josh Heard, Ayman Sellouf, and the rest of the potent Pacific FC offence, it will be without the help of the injured Acosta, Sacko, Tissot and the suspended Diego Espejo. Carlos Gonzalez said nothing has changed in his crop of currently injured players, but he is also not worried about his current selection of defenders. With only Niba, Ouimette, and Singh as established defenders to choose from, one wonders if Gonzalez will revert to a three-at-the-back system or reach deep into his bag of tricks to throw a fresh face into the fullback position. It may also be time for some youngsters to shine, with Zachary Roy and Tyr Walker also available.
Kickoff for Atlético Ottawa v Pacific FC is Sunday afternoon at the unique timeslot of 4:30pm. Despite the early kickoff, the CCSG will, as always, be holding a live watch-along at Ottawa’s temple of football, the Glebe Central Pub! We hope to see you there!
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.