York9 FC vs. Atlético Ottawa: CPL’s 1st expansion team set to debut at The Island Games

2020 CPL regular season (The Island Games) — Match #2
York9 FC vs. Atlético Ottawa
August 15, 2019 at 12:00 p.m ET/ 1:00 p.m. AT
UPEI Artificial Turf Field in Charlottetown, PEI

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It might not be quite what they were expecting, but Atlético Ottawa’s first-ever matchday has finally arrived.

The CPL’s first expansion side had to wait a few months longer than they expected, but they’ll take on provincial rivals York9 FC this Saturday in what’s apparently been christened the “ONRoutico.” At long last, we’ll have answers to dozens of questions about both teams, particularly the mysterious newcomers who have built a team from scratch in the midst of a pandemic.

If all the talk from the lead-up to this weekend is to be believed, though, Atlético Ottawa is in for one heck of a dive off the deep end in its first game. Plenty of fans and pundits (this writer included) have picked York9 to go all the way at The Island Games with all the major additions the club made since finishing the 2019 season. The Nine Stripes landed third in the CPL’s overall table last year with nine wins and 34 points.

They were a clear cut below the top echelon of Cavalry and Forge, but the arrival of players such as Michael Petrasso, Chris Mannella, and Gabriel Vasconcelos (as well as assistant coach Paul Stalteri and managing consultant Angus McNab) has the York Region-based club looking good.

Still, York9 is surely having as much trouble trying to figure out Atlético Ottawa as the rest of us. Who, really, knows what coach Mista has put together? They’ve got intriguing pieces of their own in players like Ben Fisk, Francisco Acuña, and Ben McKendry.

Following this one, both clubs’ focus will shift to midweek: York9 is next in action on Aug. 18 when they take on Pacific FC (1:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. AT), while Ottawa faces Valour FC on Aug. 19 (1:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. AT).

RELATED READING: CPL regular season: The Island Games || CPL season previews for all eight teams


  • Mysteries revealed: It’s time to finally see what Atlético Ottawa looks like. It wasn’t easy to come up with a projected starting 11 for them, simply because we have no idea how they want to play. Mista is a rookie coach in his first job at the helm of a first-year team, and with no friendly games under his belt with Ottawa, he’ll have to try things out on the fly at The Island Games. Will Malcolm Shaw be a lone striker? Malyk Hamilton a wingback? Who starts in goal? At long last, it’s time to find out.
  • York9’s finishing: The greatest issue that plagued the Nine Stripes in 2019 was their apparent inability to put the ball in the net. It wasn’t for lack of trying; they took more shots than any other club in the league (11.9 per game), the second-most possession (53.4 per cent), and they underperformed their expected goals for by a significant margin (-4.35). York9 was great at moving the ball forward from midfield — the problem was finishing. Simon Adjei has been replaced by Gabriel Vasconcelos and Alvaro Rivero, and Rodrigo Gattas has made way for Michael Petrasso; can these newcomers provide those final balls?
  • Structure or chaos?: One fascinating element of every sports league’s restart in the past couple of months has been the varying levels of complete tactical chaos. York9’s tactical play was very good in 2019, but will they be able to rely on that again this year, after such a strange pre-season (and no friendlies to refine things)? A hint of mayhem might actually benefit Atlético Ottawa, who under regular circumstances probably wouldn’t be as well-organized as a team that’s more familiar with each other. Flashes of quality — from Acuña and Fisk, maybe — could be enough to steal a win and catch York9 off guard in the season opener.
York9 FC in training in PEI. (Canadian Premier League / Chant Photography)
York9 FC in training in PEI. (Canadian Premier League / Chant Photography)


First meeting between the clubs.


Referee: Matthew Souare
ARs: Gabrielle Lemieux, Travis Lefebvre
4th Official: Carly Shaw-MacLaren

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