Atlético Ottawa provided its first roster update ahead of the 2022 CPL season on Thursday.
Relying on a core group of returning players and a healthy mix of new signings to come, the club provided the following player-by-player refresher:
Beckie, Verhoven, Malcolm Shaw highlight returnees
Centre-back Drew Beckie will once again anchor the defensive line for the Ottléti, having one more year on his contract and an additional option year in 2023. Despite missing almost a month of 2021 action due to a now resolved health scare, Beckie quickly established himself as a reliable and trustworthy teammate through the challenging beginnings of this club.
Also already under contract for 2022 are forward Brian Wright (contract until 2022 + one year option in 2023), who caught fire after a slow start in the Winnipeg bubble to become the second-best goal scorer for Atlético Ottawa with six goals and one assist in 23 CPL appearances this season, and veteran midfielder Chris Mannella, who has a year left on his contract, has worked diligently this offseason to be fully recovered from his injury and will look to renew with success and lead the club to new firsts.
With 25 years of professional soccer experience between the three of them, Beckie, Wright, and Mannella form a solid foundation for a new Head Coach looking to build a cohesive and competitive team.
A few fan-favourites owed themselves contract extensions too, thanks to productive seasons and stellar work ethic.
The club’s leading scorer Malcolm Shaw will get a second kick of the can with his partner in crime, Brian Wright, as he returns to Atlético Ottawa with a two-year contract extension (with an option for 2024) in his back pocket. His resilience – he also earned the most league game appearances for Atlético this season with 28 – and ten goals bode well for the attacking future of the red and white.
Defender Zach Verhoven also earned his stripes this past season as an understated yet dependable supporting actor, accumulating five assists and 43 tackles won in 25 league games played. He too will settle back in Ottawa for two more years, with an option for the 2024 season.
Atlético Ottawa fans will also get the opportunity to get to know the Spaniard Miguel Acosta better, who also signs a contract extension worth two years with a potential option for 2024. If he was tentative in his use of the English language, his feet and dedication did all the talking on the pitch. He was Ottawa’s most used player with 2,430 minutes played in the regular season, and a key asset on the wings of the backline throughout the season.
Ottawa will also count on the return of one of its original members with Ben McKendry securing a contract extension worth one more year. The Vancouver-native has been an instrumental cog in the midfield since the early days of Atlético Ottawa, easily surpassing all his teammates in the number of passes completed over the season with 1,197.
Telfer, Coupland, 13 others see deals expire
After the 2021 season, Atlético Ottawa opted not to exercise contract options for Matthew Arnone, Shawn Claud Lawson, Victor (Viti) Martinez, Dylon Powley, Tevin Shaw, Ryan Telfer, and Raul Uche, while Milovan Kapor, Vashon Neufville, Myles Cornwall and Antoine Coupland saw their respective contracts end.
Nyal Higgins (Toronto FC), Keesean Ferdinand (CF Montreal), Rafael Núñez and Alberto Soto (Atlético de Madrid) also returned to their clubs at the end of the loan agreement, and development contracts offered to Jaeden Mercure and Mamadou Ba concluded with the 2021 season.
Discussions remain ongoing with several other players that were with the club in 2021, new talented Canadian and international players and clubs connected to the Atlético de Madrid group, like Atlético San Luis and Famaliçao FC, with the sole objective to build a competitive Ottawa team for years to come.
Atlético Ottawa 2022 Roster as of January 13th
Defenders: 2- Drew Beckie (CAN), 16- Zach Verhoven (CAN), 17- Miguel Acosta (ESP)
Midfielders: 6- Chris Mannella (CAN), 8- Ben McKendry (CAN)
Forwards: 14- Brian Wright (CAN), 19- Malcolm Shaw (CAN)
Further roster updates will be made, including new player signings, following the appointment of a new Head Coach and technical team, with an announcement expected in the coming week.