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The Forward Press: “We put everything out there and it hurts.”

By Ben Ralph

Photo Credits: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

A heartbreaking loss in a league title six-pointer sees Atlético Ottawa slip to fourth in the table. Late game-tying heroics from acrobat Luke Singh were canceled out by William Akio, whose 97th minute winner marked his fourth goal in six games since returning to the CPL. The loss also means ATO’s home streak comes screeching to a halt after three months of undefeated footy at TD Place Stadium. Although Carlos Gonzalez was critical in his presser, he was also quick to quell any concerns ahead of a trip to Willoughby Park next week. Here’s all the postgame reaction from CarGo, as well as defender Karl Ouimette:

The Quotes: Karl Ouimette

On the feelings after the game: “It's a big heartbreaker. I mean, first half is whatever. Second half, come out fighting, come out wanting to win, pushing, getting the tying goal, and giving everything to go forward, and just a set-piece at the end bobbles a little bit, goes through legs, unlucky bounces, and yeah, it's pretty much it.”

On the importance of the game: “Everybody's giving everything, everybody's fighting. That's where we want to be. That's what playoffs look like. At the end of the day, it's just competitiveness. Just going after it. And I love the spirit from the guys, I love the fighting, I love the heart. Tonight's second half is probably the most heart we've put on the field. Put everything out there, and it hurts. But six games left, we do everything to get them back, everything.”

On Luke Singh's goal: “To be fair, he's got, for a center back, he's got a lot of quality in him. Free kicks, long-range shots. So I was wondering when he was going to pop it up in a game. But what a goal. What a goal. Brilliance.”

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On the problems in the first half: “[It was] a game in which we didn't step well into the first half, in which Cavalry was better than us collectively, individually and in the second half we did things better, and we equalized the game and then details – how to compete in the last moments… I think that we were a little bit better in the second half than them, but without doing great football.”

On concerns about letting first place slip away: “Last year, I didn't even think about finishing first until the 24th round. Like two games only ahead. So this season is the same. We have to think in the next game… In this league, things change so fast. So now what we have to do is bounce back this result, and now we have to show off what are we made of.”

On how Cavalry surprised ATO: “The way they press, the way they were defending, it was an unexpected way. And this creates a little bit of uncertainty in our play, how to break them, on how to get into the correct areas, the spots, the free man. It was about this. I think that the first half, I felt that they were a little bit more hungry at the beginning. I saw that in every single individual action, and this cannot happen in this stage of the season.”

On the officiating: “These are thoughts that maybe I shouldn't say, but I'm going to say today my feelings are that the backup that [the first official] is having in certain moments is not enough. The people surrounding him should help him more. And sometimes I feel that the other assistants, they are like, ‘oh, you take the decision, and I don't help you too much. You are the referee’… But as I say, and I end with this: I feel that the game wasn't an easy game for the referee, for all the assistants, and I don't think that they make the difference in the result.”

Looking ahead, ATO will be hungry for a bounceback win as it shoots for a series sweep against Vancouver FC. Atlético have outscored their opponents in this fixture 9-1. Gonzalez was quick to point out in the presser that Atlético Ottawa's next three fixtures all fall into the space of ten games, and with playoff contenders Pacific and Halifax to follow, a comprehensive win at Willoughby Park will be important in “a critical week.”

Gonzalez also urged Atléti supporters not to “get crazy about this situation” because he believes Atlético is still doing “many good things.” For instance, one could revel in what is surely a strong contender for goal of the season from ‘Big Ting Singh’, whose consistently good form has flown under the radar following his early season struggles. For those fans who might be finding that loss particularly hard to swallow, here’s one more quote from CarGo to ease the pre-playoff stress:

On keeping heads high: “I saw the team a little bit down. Now it's normal. It has been a result that is not what we were looking for. But tomorrow the sun will come out again, will be shining, and we will know, I think, that we have tough players there. Tomorrow they will be okay, and after tomorrow they will be better.”

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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