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The Forward Press: Trip out East with a squad in form, has Ottleti bring a storm

By Jon Hopkins

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

After a stormy few days and a lot of flooding, Atlético Ottawa is set to face off against the Halifax Wanderers in Halifax for the first time in 2023. Both teams are looking to grind their way to the top of a very tight table, with the record for 2023 being 1-1-0 in Ottawa’s favour this year. Here’s what Coach CarGo had to say in the pre-game presser:

The Quotes - Carlos Gonzalez:

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

On what to expect from this game: “Halifax is showing a very competitive image in the home with the fans. They are very solid over here and winning against tough opponents. I expect this type of game, not an easy game, in which they are going to start with a lot of energy trying to grab the 3 points and change the dynamic of the last game that they played. On the other hand, let's see how the climate is [tomorrow] as maybe it will be a rainy day also, so we will see what type of game can we find.”

On 3/3 wins in July: “Really happy, I think that this slow start that we had at the beginning of the season, we’ve been capable to balance it a little bit with these three results in a row. But we are now in a moment in which we have to keep winning. We know that this league is like that, if you don’t maintain consistency, if you start to drop points again, in few rounds you will be down again. So, looking forward to maintaining the consistency of last week and consolidate the good dynamic of the team.”

On Injuries to the Squad: “Abou Sacko is still injured. Max Tissot is getting better.”

On the two new U-18 Development Roster Spots: “I think that the changes are a good evolution so that the league can give more chances to these young talents in Canada, that in certain moments having a short squad, sometimes it is not possible to give them the chances to put them inside. I think it's beneficial for everyone, I think that especially for the developing of the young talent, and hopefully we will see that this rule will make difference in the future and we will see some young guys that we see 17-18 years old very young, we will see them in the future with a good career.”

On the importance of midseason recruitment: “It's Critical. It's critical if you feel that you haven’t done everything that you should in the other market window. It is crucial to do some changes and if you feel the dynamic of the team or the results you are having are not the best, it is a great opportunity to change things. To move players in, players out, and to have a more competitive roster. I think this window at the half of the season are good. Last season we also signed a couple of players that they gave us an extra deepness in the roster and they helped us a lot for the end of the season. I hope this season we can do the same with the new signings.”

On balancing so many players in form with many players wanting to play: “We have plenty of solutions, mostly on the attack now. We have Gianni Dos Santos whose coming back from an injury, we have Ruben Del Campo that is the new signing, and we have of course Salter, Malcolm Shaw, Zach Verhoeven, that can do the job over there. It is a good headache for me. It is the one coaches like to have to think about having plenty of solutions and at the moment they are all working very hard in the training sessions and it is a very healthy competitiveness between them. So I think the only thing that is going to happen is that the team will benefit from it.”

On the importance of competition within the team to helping players reach their potential: “It's a key aspect, in every single team you want to be a winner team, you need to create internal competitiveness between your players. I don’t think it is very healthy to have only one 11, and other substitution players that don’t have a chance to play. The best thing is to have a complete roster in which every single player fights for a position. This is the key aspect that makes everybody grow individually and after, the team is the one that has the benefit as the team grows also.”

Coach Gonzalez seems confident going into a tough game against a tough opponent. With Max Tissot and Abou Sacko still out, there seem to be some gaps to fill on the left side of the pitch. However, the possible return of Gianni Dos Santos raises even more offensive options for the boys in stripes, suggesting an offensive bloodbath. This team has been pushing itself further and further throughout the season, allowing numerous players to shine and grow into great individual players and a more cohesive unit. This has bore fruit with the team going 3 for 3 in the month of July, but Ottawa will need to have a perfect month to get closer to the top of the table and into the hunt for the regular season crown with the likes of Cavalry, Pacific, and Forge. However, Halifax is looking to do the same and has a strong chance of disrupting them. Mid-season adjustments for both teams have been critical, and will likely play a key role in the outcome of the game. Be on the lookout for the likes of Zapater and Del Campo for Ottawa and Joao Morelli and Doneil Henry for Halifax to see how they change the game.

The game has been rescheduled to kick off at 4 pm EST today, Sunday, July 23rd, and if you’re looking for a tight-knit team dynamic yourself, you can always join the CCSG watch-along at the Glebe Central Pub this afternoon. See you there!

About Jon

Jon Hopkins is a fresh face on the pro-football fandom scene, being introduced it through Atlético Ottawa and the CPL. He grew up playing the beautiful game through his high school years in the Niagara Region. He has worked to support the growth of footie in Ottawa with CCSG since 2022 and now acts as the lead editor for the Writers at CCSG.

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