Match Analysis: Atlético Ottawa 0-0 York United — CPL Match #38

Final Score: Atlético Ottawa 0-0 York United
Goalscorers: N/A
Game of the 2022 season: 38
CPL match: 289

Match in a minute or less

Once again, nothing could separate York United and Atlético Ottawa in Canadian Premier League action, as they battled to a 0-0 draw. They even made sure to end level on red cards as both sides had a player sent off, captain Drew Beckie (second yellow) for Ottawa and Cédric Toussaint for York.

The chippy affair saw both sides commit a combined 26 fouls and three yellow cards apiece to go with the two reds. The scoreless draw vaults both Nate Ingham and Niko Giantsopoulos into a three-way tie with Cavalry’s Marco Carducci for most clean sheets in the league (4).

Three Observations

York delivers another excellent defensive performance in yet another draw with Ottawa

Much has been made this season about the way Atlético keep their defensive shape and how central that is to their identity. But recently, it has been their lethal attack that has been a real difference-maker for the club .

For just the second time this season, they were held goalless tonight. For the first time this season, they were held to just a single shot on target and never truly troubled Giantsopoulos in the York net.

York actually got off to a very shaky start at the back, giving the ball away in their own third three times within the space of the first 10 minutes. But they woke up quickly, and York’s very experienced backline did a much better job of limiting costly errors in possession. Chrisnovic N’sa, in particular, was brilliant, misplaying only one of his 30 total passes on the night.

Just as importantly, they did an excellent job of limiting the time and space Atleti’s best attacking players had on the ball.

The main Ottawa danger men of late, Tabla, Shaw and Bassett, had just four touches between them in the box and a single shot on target, which Bassett hit from long range. Ottawa was limited to a measly 0.34 expected goals on the night.

Below is a look at York’s defensive actions from the match. Note in particular the work that Diyaeddine Abzi (20) and Toussaint (28) did down the right flank where Tabla and Bassett have been dominant in recent weeks.

Courtesy: Opta
Courtesy: Opta

“They had one shot on target, and I think it was from range, so we did a great job in that area, they are a tough team to play against, obviously they don’t give a lot away and they have the ability to score,” said Nash post-game. “So I’m proud of the effort my group gave today, and couldn’t ask for anything more, except a goal.”

Both sides were left frustrated in front of goal on the evening, and both left to wonder how, once again, they ended the match level.

“I think at a certain point we are going to get a call that we don’t have to play and we are going to take a point each, and save ourselves the trouble,” Atleti goalkeeper Nate Ingham joked after the match. “I’ve not seen anything like it, and each tie has been a little bit different.”

Game’saving stop from Nate Ingham preserves an “important” draw

Ottawa looked like they were in real trouble with about 10 minutes left as captain Drew Beckie was sent off with York pressing heavily for the winner. The visitors then almost found it immediately on the ensuing free-kick.

But Ingham was on hand to parry the ball away from short range as Osaze De Rosario deflected the ball goalward in what was easily the closest either side came to finding the back of the net.

“It was a big save, you know, a reaction,” said Ingham, “so you are relying on a lot of your training throughout the week and the prep all the way through preseason to put you in the right spot to make that save and you don’t think about it, you just get a hand to it. But good footwork, good positioning, those are the things that get you there and the goalkeeper coach will be happy, he gets a lot of credit on it.”

While the draw halted Ottawa’s winning streak at three matches, they understand that you cannot win them all, and know that Ingham’s save and their efforts without Beckie for the final 15 minutes earned them an important point.

“There is phrase in Spanish that says ‘the day that you cannot win, don’t lose’, so today I think we can put that phrase on the table,” said Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González. “I think that it is a point that we can continue adding and I think there are a lot of things that we can improve, but also the last 15 minutes were tough minutes at it was a good point at the end.”

Ingham added another phrase that he and his teammates often say amongst themselves on game days.

“Clean sheet, don’t get beat,” he said. “Anything you can do to pick up points that will drive you forward, because now we are five unbeaten. Two draws, but you get to build on that, then if you win the next one that’s how you build momentum. The locker room is a lot different after a loss than after a draw. So it takes that mental pressure away.”

Fullbacks lead the way as York show attacking promise, but still no product

Going into tonight’s match, Nash spoke about how, with two sides who are so good at controlling the centre of the park, the wide areas were going to be critical. York certainly got the better of the battle of width in this match, but as has been the case in their last five CanPL matches, they could not find the finished product.

“We got into some great areas,” said Nash, “that final quality has been missing for us, we have got to find a way to start scoring some goals.”

The way they dominated the flanks, however, especially against a team as defensively solid is something to build on for York. Abzi, in particular, was brilliant at beating the Ottawa press with his incredible on-ball quality. He attempted seven dribbles during the match, attacking directly whenever he could and was fouled four times.

It felt like he was singlehandedly trying to will York to finally score a goal at points during the match, and while a number of his switches and crosses were on target, the attacking impetus was certainly a welcome sight for the club. He created four chances during the match and had nine total crosses.

On the opposite flank, N’sa had two shots of his own, while completing four crosses and a stunning 97% pass accuracy. When York finally does score, and it has to be coming soon, it is more likely than not going to start with the work of one of these two players.

The chart below shows N’sa (23) and Abzi (20)’s attacking work during the match (squares are passes, circles shots, triangles dribbles).

Courtesy: Opta
Courtesy: Opta Player of the Match

Diyaeddine Abzi, York United 

It was another brilliant performance from Abzi at both ends of the field as he helped to shut down some of Ottawa’s best attacking threats (seven duels won, possession won eight times), while simultaneously being the most dangerous player on the field in attack.

What’s next?

York United are back home on Saturday, June 18 as they host Pacific FC at 4:00 p.m. ET. It is the third meeting between the two sides in less than a month, as York recently knocked Pacific out of the Canadian Championship on penalties. Atlético Ottawa, meanwhile, head west where they will meet FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium on Sunday, June 19 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

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