2024 Season Preview: Atlético Ottawa

The 2024 Canadian Premier League season kicks off the weekend of April 13, when all eight clubs will begin their quest to hoist the CPL Shield and vie for the North Star Cup.

Here at, we’re celebrating the start of April by previewing each individual club ahead of 2024. To check out all eight team previews, click here. To see all of our season preview coverage ahead of the sixth year of the CPL, click here.

After going from the bottom of the table in 2021 to winning the regular season and making the CPL Final in 2022, Atlético Ottawa entered 2023 with lofty expectations. Winning the regular season and playoff double was a target for the club, but on the pitch things didn’t go to plan.

The club failed to replace some of its big departures in the 2022-23 offseason, particularly those of attacker Ballou Tabla and midfielder Abdoul Sissoko, and ended up sliding down into sixth place – two points back of the final playoff spot – after a seven-game winless run late in the season.

A big off-season this year, where they’ve managed to pick up some of the Canadian Premier League’s biggest stars from around the league, as well as bringing back Tabla, is a statement of intent from the capital city club – they don’t want that feeling of missing out on the playoffs again in 2024, and are aiming for the top of the table once again in their fifth season.


  • 2023 CPL regular season record (W-D-L): 10-6-12 (36 pts, 6th place)
  • Goals scored: 38
  • Goals against: 34
  • Goal difference: +4
  • Top scorer: Ollie Bassett (11)
  • Canadian Championship: Lost on penalties in quarter-finals to Forge FC

Atlético Ottawa took a step back from their 2022 regular season-winning campaign, finishing sixth in the table after a late-season collapse. The club will be keen on putting the 2023 season behind them, while also perhaps using it as motivation to get back to the level they believe they’re capable of. 

Another strong individual season from Golden Boot co-winner Ollie Bassett was one of the highlights of a year where they failed to meet collective expectations.

READ MORE: 6 questions ahead of Atlético Ottawa’s 2024 season


Players in:

Players out:

GK – Rayane Yesli GK – Sean Melvin
DF – Jonathan Grant DF – Miguel Acosta
DF – Luke Singh (on loan from Toronto FC) DF – Diego Espejo
DF – Amer Didić DF – Karl Ouimette
MF – Manny Aparicio DF – Macdonald Niba
MF – Aboubacar Sissoko MF – Carl Haworth
MF – Liberman Torres (on loan from Villarreal CF B) MF – Noah Verhoeven (on loan to Valour FC)
FW – Matteo de Brienne MF – Ilias Iliadis
FW – Kevin Dos Santos FW – Zachary Verhoven
FW – Ballou Tabla FW – Malcolm Shaw
FW – Kris Twardek FW – Jean-Aniel Assi
FW – Gianni Dos Santos

No, your eyes aren’t tricking you. Atlético Ottawa have pulled off arguably the best off-season in the Canadian Premier League’s short history, signing a who’s who of stars from around the league. 

Manny Aparicio, seen by many as the biggest CPL free agent this off-season after departing Pacific FC, has joined the club, bolstering a midfield that already includes fellow CPL superstar Ollie Bassett, veteran leader Alberto Zapater, and fellow new recruit from Forge FC Aboubacar Sissoko, among others. Joining Aparicio in the capital is former Pacific FC defender Amer Didić, another one of the top Canadian players on the market, who immediately adds a ton of size and quality to Ottawa’s backline.

Reigning CPL U-21 Canadian Player of the Year Matteo de Brienne has also returned to his hometown as a free agent, joined by his former Valour FC teammate and 2023 Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Rayane Yesli. 2022 Player of the Year candidate Ballou Tabla also returns to the capital after a year in Turkey, hometown boy Kris Twardek returns to Canada after several years overseas, and Kevin Dos Santos – who broke Ottawa’s hearts late last season to remove them from a playoff spot – makes the move across Ontario from York United. 

Losing the fan-favourite Spanish defensive duo of Diego Espejo and Miguel Acosta in particular is disappointing for Ottawa fans, but the club’s CEO Fernando Lopez and head coach Carlos González have assembled what some are calling a CPL superteam.

Signing high-quality players with CPL experience is what helped push Ottawa over the edge in 2022, and this year they have done that tenfold to build an incredibly talented and deep squad.


Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez. (Photo: Trevor MacMillan/ Halifax Wanderers FC)

Entering his third season with Atlético Ottawa, Carlos González faces the task of getting the club back to the level he did in his first year with the club in 2022. That year he guided the club from the bottom of the table to the regular season title, winning the Coach of the Year award at the end of the season before falling just short of winning the double in the CPL Final, losing to Forge FC.

Before making the move to Canada, González worked in the academy systems of La Liga clubs Malaga and Atlético Madrid in his native Spain, and in Kuwait with Kuwait SC and the U-23 and senior Kuwait national teams.

González figured out in 2022 how to get the best out of his players to win a lot of games, but in 2023 some of those tactics were figured out by other teams. Preferring a defensive style of football that makes sure his team doesn’t concede a lot of goals – especially away from home – the Ottawa boss will be challenged this season to adapt his game to fit the more attack-minded players brought into the squad.


(4-3-3): Nathan Ingham; Aboubacar Sissoko, Amer Didić, Luke Singh, Matteo de Brienne; Ollie Bassett, Alberto Zapater, Manny Aparicio; Kevin Dos Santos, Samuel Salter, Ballou Tabla

Atlético Ottawa’s projected XI.

Carlos González has a lot of options when selecting his team in 2024, thanks to a deep, talented roster with many proven players.

Ottawa head into 2024 with arguably the best goalkeeping tandem in the CPL, with incumbent starter Nate Ingham set to battle with 2023 Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Rayane Yesli, who was acquired this offseason from Valour FC. 

 The versatility of several of his players makes picking a projected starting eleven difficult, especially at the two fullback positions with Aboubacar Sissoko and Matteo de Brienne. They could start at right back and left back, respectively, or Sissoko can be used in central midfield and de Brienne on the left wing. There’s no real wrong answer for González, with Maxim Tissot and Aboubakary Sacko among the other fullback options. Jonathan Grant was going to be an option at right back as well, but will miss the 2024 season due to an injury suffered in preseason.

In the middle of the backline, Amer Didić is a fantastic recruit for the club, heading to the capital after two seasons as one of the top defenders in the league with Pacific FC. He joins Toronto FC loanee Luke Singh in our projected starting lineup, with youngster Tyr Walker and Villarreal loanee Liberman Torres in the pool of centre-backs.

The midfield may be the the strongest part of this team, with Manny Aparicio and Sissoko joining a group that already includes reigning Golden Boot winner and 2022 Player of the Year Ollie Bassett, as well as experienced Spanish defensive midfielder Alberto Zapater. Liberman Torres can also play in defensive midfield, or slot into the middle of the backline alongside Luke Singh and/or Tyr Walker. 

A revamped attack will include newcomers Kris Twardek and Kevin Dos Santos, returnees to the club Ballou Tabla and Matteo de Brienne, and Samuel Salter and Ruben del Campo – two players who made an impact last season but could take another step forward this season.


Domestic U-21


Loaned In

Gabriel Antinoro Ollie Bassett Liberman Torres (from Villarreal CF B)
Tyr Walker Ruben del Campo Luke Singh (from Toronto FC)
Zachary Roy Aboubakary Sacko
Kevin Dos Santos
Liberman Torres
Alberto Zapater