The 2022 Canadian Premier League season has come to a close. With the season starting in April and going until the end of October these seven months of football have flown by. This was the year that Atletico Ottawa stamped out their place in the league going from last place in 2020, and 2021 to first place in 2022, winning the regular season championship (which is the more challenging trophy to win) and hosting the 2022 Final. It was quite a season for Atletico Ottawa.
Statistical Look at the Team
Atletico Ottawa finished off the regular season with thirteen wins, ten draws, and five losses, a goal difference of +seven, and forty nine points which were good enough for first place. The team scored 36 goals this season while letting in 29. In the Playoffs, Atletico finished with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss. They scored three goals and conceded three in the playoffs. This resulted in them ending up as runners-up for the Northstar Shield.
The leading goal scorer was Ollie Basset who lead the team with 8 goals, and also won Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year. Ballou Tabla lead the team in both assists where he got 4 and shots where he had 44. Maxim Tissot was the team leader when it came to interceptions where he had 37. Miguel Acosta had the most tackles at 92, which was also the highest in the league. Diego Espejo had the most passes with 1414. Nathan Ingham had the most clean sheets for the team at 9, and the most saves at 75 which was also the highest in the league.
Atletico Ottawa started off the 2022 season with just seven returning players. The rest of the team came in new. Atletico finished the season with twenty-six players total. Three of those players are on development contracts and may or may not be with the team again next season as either U21 players or development players again. Four of the twenty-six were players in on loan. While it would be nice for Espejo and Camus to return in 2023, it’s hard to think that would happen with both of them coming from Atletico Madrid. Although it is probably more likely that Camus at twenty-five isn’t about to break into the Madrid lineup so he might be back to get steady playing time in a top-flight league and to hold the Atletico back line together, compared to Espejo who is only twenty and has the skill level to play elsewhere.
Currently, Atletico Ottawa only has Chris Mannella, Sean Melvin and Ben McKendry that will be out of contract next season unless resigned. While I highly doubt Mannella will return next season, just due to the small amount he played this season, I do think McKendry will most likely be resigned if it financially works out. Melvin is a question mark, he is a great backup keeper but he could easily find another team to play for and even be a starter so it’s hard to tell.
Six players have options available for 2023, Drew Beckie, Abdoul Sissoko, Brian Wright and Maxim Tissot should have their contacts picked up while, I am not sure about Kevin Aleman and Ivan Perez having their options picked up by the team just due to the smaller amount of playing time they received compared to the others on this list.
The rest of the team is under contract for 2023 and some even are under contract or have options for 2024. This means that the core of the team unless sold will be back for the 2023 season.
Also, who can forget Carlos Gonzalez, he should be back next season as well. As he still has another year on his contract with the team. After putting up a season like the one Atletico had don’t expect him to be leaving unless a huge offer comes in for him.
It is highly unlikely that the team does sell players, as the team does not need the money to make ends meet. The team is owned by Atletico Madrid which is not cash-strapped by any means. So unlike some other teams in this league (Pacific, York). Atletico Ottawa will most likely not sell anyone this off-season unless a player themselves wants out or a huge offer comes in.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
Memorable Games of the 2022 Season
Looking back on the 2022 season, there were some memorable games that Atletico played. Some of these games had good memories while others did not so much. The first of such games was just the third game of the season for Atletico. This was the famous 6-1 loss at home to Valour. This game stung. It left a bitter taste in the mouths of the fans and made some question if this season was just going to be a repeat of last season. Fortunately, it was not.
The home game against 2021 champions Pacific on June 5th was notable as well. Atletico had a 1-0 lead going into the final few minutes until Pacific scored in the 83rd minute, only for the quick counter-attack of Atletico to strike back scoring a second goal to make it 2-1 in the 86th minute of play. This was also the game where Zach Verhoven slide knee-first into the post, resulting in him getting injured and sitting out for a couple of months.
The first win for Atletico against Forge was quite memorable for those that watched on TV, what made it even sweeter was that it was an away win as well. This was Atletico’s first win against Forge and their first win at Tim Hortons Field. Ollie Bassett scored a beautiful free-kick goal in the 78th minute of play which resulted in a 1-0 win.
The first big road trip for the Atletico supporters was a 3-0 win at York. The supporter groups and the team organized a busload full of people to go down to York Lions Stadium to cheer the team on, and the team did not disappoint. The team put on a show for them, with a 3-0 away win.
Another not-so-happy memorable game was the 4-0 loss to Forge at home. This was the second time this season that Atletico had lost big at home. Nothing more was really memorable from an Atletico point of view other than the score as most Atletico supports have probably whipped this game from their memory, but this might be different if you are a Forge fan.
The August 17th, game against Halifax Wanders had all the making of a memorable game. Atletico scored first, then HFX, then Atletico again, only for HFX to equalize late in the 90+1 minute of added time. Ottawa was quick to counter with a counterattack scoring in the 90+2 minute of added time. The winning goal had some controversy though with the referee calling it off at first only for him to talk to his linesman and give the goal to Atletico to result in a 3-2 win.
Two other very notable games for the club were the away trips to Cavalry where Atletico won 3-0 on the first away trip, and again won 3-1 on the second away trip. The second game against Cavalry was also the game where Tabla scored the goal of the season with a bicycle kick goal from outside the 18-yard box.
Going into the playoffs for the first time was also notable with a massive away win at Pacific where Altico won 2-0 to set themselves up nicely for a home playoff match. This game set the seed for the team to go all the way to the final. It was also quite a game, even if Atletico did not win. Almost 15,000 people came to the game which set a CPL record for the most people to attend a paid match.
This season was the best season in Atletico’s very short history, they went from last place in 2021 to first place, winning the regular season championship along the way. The team set a new record for away points and away wins in the league and brought the Ottawa region together behind the team. The team had the second-highest average attendance this season. With most of the players and the coach already under contract for next season, the team will be in a good place going into next year. Overall, the team, and its fans should feel proud of what they managed to do this season and should look forward to next season with more great games to play, and more championships to win.
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