Whenever Atlético Ottawa and York United get together it is a feisty and entertaining affair. This game was no exception. On a wet rainy afternoon in the nation’s capital, the two teams meet for the first time in the 2023 season.
Coming into the game York had lost two straight games and Atletico had drawn two straight games in the league so far. Going into this game both teams needed a win, but unfortunately, only York got the result that it was looking for.
It was nice to see a grand total of three York supporters in the away section of the stadium waving their flags.
The game started off fairly mundane with Atlético holding possession and having a couple of shots on goal early on in the game. Something switched around the fifteenth minute of play with York now controlling the game.
Ottawa was able to soak up what York was throwing at them and was looking quite capable of it. The team looked like it was back to its defensive form from last season, for a while.
In the forty-first minute of play that changed. The referee called a fairly weak freekick for York at the top of Ottawa’s eighteen-yard box. Mo Babouli stepped up and placed a beautiful free kick into the top corner of the net. Nathan Ignham was left scrambling.
During the second half, Ottawa started a little flat but that quickly changed when subs were brought into the game. Malcolm Shaw was brought on for Samuel Slater and instantly started a spark in the attack again. Zach Verhoven was brought on for Karl Ouimette which changed the defensive shape for Ottawa as they switched from a three at the back with two wingbacks to a four at the back. This allowed for more attacking play and made a huge difference.
During the second half, it was just wave after wave of Ottawa attacking the York net. But Ottawa was just unable to put the ball in the net. Credit to Yorks keeper Niko Giantsopoulos who made some great saves to keep his team in the match.
Ottawa managed to have eleven shots total compared to York’s seven with most of Ottawa’s shots coming in the second half.
The game unfortunately ended 1-0 in favour of York but there is much to look forward to for Ottawa seeing as they do have an attacking spark that was lacking in the first two league games. Another positive was that Ollie Bassett was back from injury and looked more or less like himself.
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The standout player for me was Aboubakary Sacko, he was semi-quiet during the first half but made a huge impact in the second with his runs down the wing. His fast footwork and precision passing are just what this team needs.
Ottawa does need to figure out its shape. Having Acosta playing as a CDM just is not doing it for the team. When Ouimette came off during the second half, Acosta slotted over back into his natural right wingback position and it was obvious he was much more comfortable there than at CDM. CDM has to be one position the teams figure out, either bringing in a player before the transfer window closes or abandoning the idea of having a CDM, because currently none of our players fit this role and play it well enough.
Samuel Slater is another player of concern for us. It could be that he is still getting used to a new team and environment or he just takes a while to warm up, until he starts firing on all cylinders. Either way, it isn’t working. He did seem more involved this game than the last couple of games but it was quickly noticed that when Shaw came on and Salter came off the attack was much more dangerous. It would be interesting to see if Shaw and Salter can play together on the front line. I think that may be what is needed as the two players have different playing styles that could complement each other.
Let’s talk about the referee. It is an ongoing complaint for many CPL fans that the refereeing in this league is terrible. This game was no different. The ref made a bad call which lead to York scoring off a freekick and then allowing York to waste significant time, through “injuries” and goal kicks to the point where even the crowd was counting how long it took for York to kick the ball back into play. Frankly, the refereeing needs to improve as it often leaves a bad taste in the fan’s mouth after a game knowing that the only deciding factor in the game was a bad call by the ref.
Atlético Ottawa plays Pacific at home on May 6th at 7 pm, while York United plays Forge at home on May 5th at 7:30 pm.
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