6 questions ahead of Atlético Ottawa’s 2024 season

The 2024 season, beginning April 13, will be the sixth year of competition in the Canadian Premier League. To celebrate its arrival, we at have been asking the same six questions for each of the eight teams playing in the league from coast to coast.

To check out our 6 questions breakdowns for all eight teams, click hereTo see all of our season preview coverage ahead of the sixth year of the CPL, click here.

What can we learn from Atlético Ottawa’s 2023 season?

One of the lasting stories from Atlético Ottawa’s 2023 season is that the team entered with very high expectations, but inconsistency and a late collapse saw them miss the playoffs entirely. It’s not a feeling the club wants to experience again, so they are going all-in on 2024 to get back to the place they feel they belong.

Goalkeeper Nathan Ingham said himself at the end of the season that the club was lacking a bit of leadership at times, but that leaders learning how and when to step up when necessary is a skill they will take into 2024. Combine better leadership with better players, and there is the potential and expectation that the team will climb back up the table this season.

The 2023 season also reminded us that consistency is key. The season started poorly for the club with just five points through seven games, but when the team lost just twice between June 17 and Aug.26, they re-established themselves among the team’s elite. A winless slide between Aug. 26 and Oct. 1, however, sunk them from third to sixth, and they missed the playoffs. It was a season of streaks for the capital city club, and in 2024 they’ll be looking to avoid those long slumps.

Atlético Ottawa key statistics

Who are three key players for Atlético Ottawa in 2024?

MF – Manny Aparicio

Arguably the biggest free agent of the CPL off-season, midfielder Manny Aparicio is a huge addition to an Ottawa midfield that already looked really good on paper. The rich got richer as Aparicio, who spent the past three years with Pacific FC after two with York United, adds both a lot of quality and some more leadership in the middle of the park. Aparicio, who was a Player of the Year finalist in 2022 and 2023, can score and assist goals, but is also defensively sound in the box-to-box role he has mastered.

MF – Ollie Bassett

There’s a strong case to be made that Ollie Bassett has been the best player in the Canadian Premier League over the past two seasons, having won the 2022 CPL Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards, and sharing the 2023 Golden Boot with Cavalry’s Myer Bevan. Bassett can serve up set pieces as well as anyone in the league, is a tireless runner in midfield, and is a lethal penalty taker. The ball tends to go through him in attack when he’s on the pitch, and that will certainly be the case again in 2024.

FW – Ballou Tabla

One of the most entertaining attackers in the CPL, Ballou Tabla was a Player of the Year nominee in his lone CPL season in 2022, and a runner up for the Players’ Player of the Year as well, losing out on both to teammate Ollie Bassett. Tabla is lightning-quick and can do special things with the ball at his feet, endearing himself to the Ottawa fans and neutral observers. He earned a move to Turkey, but after a year over there has returned to Ottawa, signing a three-year contract. The club is looking for more goals in 2024, and Tabla will be a big part of making that happen.

What does Atlético Ottawa’s 2024 schedule look like?

For the second year in a row, match number one of the Canadian Premier League season will take place at TD Place in Ottawa, this time with a match between Atlético Ottawa and York United on April 13. 

Three of Ottawa’s four matches to start the season come in the nation’s capital, before a west coast road trip to visit Vancouver FC and Pacific FC. Their most difficult stretch of the season might be between Aug. 10-24, where they will play on the road in Hamilton, Langford, and Halifax back-to-back-to-back in a cross-country expedition. 

The end of the season – where they will be hoping to seal their spot in the playoffs – will be a bit lighter in terms of travel, with all of their final five matches coming in the province of Ontario. They’ll host Pacific FC and the Halifax Wanderers at TD Place before visiting York United and Forge FC, and finishing off their season at home against Vancouver FC.

How did Ottawa approach the off-season?

Luca Piccioli (left), Matteo de Brienne and Kris Twardek (right) at the Season Seat Member launch event hosted by Caldwell Family Centre (credit: Chris Hue / Atlético Ottawa)

With all guns blazing, essentially.

The club’s CEO, Fernando Lopez, has been aggressive in adding high-quality players who have proven themselves at other clubs around the league, including the likes of Manny Aparicio, Ballou Tabla and Aboubacar Sissoko, who have lifted trophies in this league before – something Ottawa is intent on doing this season. 

There has also been an attempt to bring a few players closer to home, with Matteo de Brienne and Kris Twardek local players returning to their hometown. As the reigning Best U-21 Canadian Player winner, de Brienne is also a sign that Ottawa also wants to look to the future as well as the present, also signing his former Valour teammate and 2023 Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Rayane Yesli this off-season. The club also rewarded young local product Tyr Walker his first professional contract after a handful of promising performances at the end of last year.

It was a very strong off-season for the club, perhaps the most impressive and aggressive in the league’s short history thus far.

What are three key storylines heading into the season? 

Carlos Gonzalez speaks to the media (Photo: David Chant)

How will all of the new signings play together? 

It’s fantastic to load up your squad with some of the league’s best players, but it presents a challenge when it comes to squad selection. Getting everyone on the pitch at once will be impossible, so Carlos González and his coaching staff will need to be flexible in their tactics and formations in order to give everyone regular minutes. Some players are locks to start when they can – Manny Aparicio, Ollie Bassett, Ballou Tabla, etc – but everyone else will be battling for minutes, which is ultimately a very good problem to have.

Expect a more attacking style of football

Carlos González’s shutdown defensive football lifted his team all the way to the regular season title in 2022, but in 2023 it was not as successful as teams figured out how to break them down. In 2024, they will be looking to play a more attacking – and entertaining – style of football that will hopefully result in more goals being scored. As a team, Ottawa created just 83 chances in 2023, which was the second-fewest in the league and a remarkable 74 back of first-place Cavalry. With Ballou Tabla, Kris Twardek, Kevin Dos Santos, Matteo de Brienne and Manny Aparicio among the players joining the club, expect González’s tactics to evolve in search of more offensive production.

Improving road form is crucial to 2024 turnaround

One of the most impressive parts of Atlético Ottawa’s 2022 regular season title win was how good they were on the road. That season they picked up more than half of their points – 28 of 49 to be exact – away from TD Place. In 2023 they were down 11 points away from home, picking up 17 of their 36 points on the road. They had the third-best home record last year at 5-4-5, which they could also definitely improve upon, but if they can build on their 5-2-7 road record from last year, they could be in great shape for a playoff push – which is their minimum expectation.

What are the keys to success for Atlético Ottawa in 2024?

The main key to success for Atlético Ottawa in 2024 is consistency. At times last year, they looked like the best team in the league but at others they were among the worst. If they can find consistency in 2024, they have the talent to be in the conversation for trophies come the end of the season.

Part of finding consistency, and just a better record overall, is a better attacking output. Last season the club created the second-fewest chances in the CPL with 83 in 28 matches, which isn’t good enough for a team with championship ambitions.