2022 Canadian Championship — Preliminary Round
Atlético Ottawa vs. York United FC
May 10, 2022 at 7 p.m. ET
TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, Ontario
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Atlético Ottawa will be looking for their first-ever Canadian Championship win as they host York United in a preliminary round clash on Tuesday night at TD Place Stadium.
Ottawa’s one and only match in the competition to date came last year when they fell 3-2 to Valour FC at home. Austin Ricci, who now plays for York and could be in line for his first start of the season on Tuesday, had a pair of goals for the Winnipeg outfit to end Atleti’s inaugural cup campaign.
Fast forward a year and losses to Valour still loom large in the memory. A lopsided 6-1 drubbing late last month against the Winnipeg outfit kicked off a stretch of three straight winless matches for Ottawa in Canadian Premier League action, heading into this meeting with York.
But while the match will come just three days after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Pacific, Carlos González and Atleti are already looking to turn the page.
“The reality is that we are looking forward, yesterday we closed the book of the league, and we started to open the book of the [Canadian] Championship,” said González. “I think that we are getting to the point that we want, we have to be proud of a lot of the things that we are improving.”
York, on the other hand, will be full of confidence after shutting out Forge 1-0 on Friday. They haven’t lost since the opening day of the season against Halifax and are now up into second place in the Canadian Premier League.
The Nine Stripes have actually only ever played another Canadian Premier League side once in their two previous runs in this competition, a 3-2 win (over two legs) over FC Edmonton back in 2019. Last year’s tournament was a bit of a rollercoaster for them as they had a massive 5-0 win over League1 Ontario’s Master’s FA, before a comprehensive 4-0 loss to local rivals Toronto FC at BMO Field.
New manager Martin Nash is no stranger to success in this competition, as an assistant on a Cavalry side who in 2019 upset the Vancouver Whitecaps to become to first CPL team to beat MLS opposition. He will be looking to do that again this year, but will need get through Ottawa first, and should York advance, Pacific FC, with both matches coming on the road.
“I think it is a great competition first and foremost, and I think every year it means a lot,” says Nash, later adding, “[this is a game we want to throw everything at because we really want to advance in this competition.”
Ottawa and York certainly won’t be strangers when they take to the pitch on Tuesday, after meeting just two weeks ago in Canadian Premier League action at York Lions Stadium. That game ended 2-2, with Dominick Zator scoring a controversial late goal to split the points between the two sides.
In many ways, form goes out the window in single-elimination cup competition matches. But draws have been the one constant in matches between these two sides. Six of the seven matches they have contested against one another have ended even.
Evidently, draws are not possible in the Canadian Championship. Should history repeat itself between these two sides and the match remain level after 90 minutes, it will head directly to penalty kicks.
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2022 CPL Final! To learn more about ComeOn!, click here.
All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980. Tous les matchs de l’Atlético Ottawa sont aussi disponibles en français sur OneSoccer.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Nash with more options at his disposal: Part of what made this week’s win against Forge so impressive from Martin Nash’s York United was how thin their squad was for the match. While it is a quick turnaround from that Friday to Tuesday for the Nine Stripes, they should have a bigger squad travelling to Ottawa. While Nash wasn’t fully showing his cards as to who is available, it sounds like centre-back Roger Thompson is progressing well. York will also get yet another attacking option as Argentine 24-year-old Lisandro Cabrera is available. “We’ve had two training sessions with him and he’s done quite well so, yeah he’s in the squad right now,” said Nash. Coming off the bench the last two matches, Austin Ricci could be in line for his first start of the season. Ricci had two shots on target and four touches inside the box in 39 minutes off the bench against Forge.
- Ottawa starting to form an identity: While, as previously mentioned, Ottawa are winless in their last three games, they can take plenty of confidence out of a 1-0 loss to Pacific on the weekend. Against the league-leaders, they were able to generate 11 shots on goal, while holding Pacific to just a pair over the course of 90 minutes. It was the best example yet of the identity that they have been trying to form since the start of the season: a resolute side that will sit back and be tough to break down, while simultaneously lethal on the counter attack. “What they do they do very well,” said Nash. “They are really well organized defensive and they counter really well. They have two, really three, very good attacking pieces that get out in transition quite well. We have to be good in defensive transition, and we have to find ways to break them down.”
- Will we see more Ballou Tabla Canadian Championship magic? While his club, and his coach, may be newer to Canadian Championship action, Ballou Tabla has a long and storied history in this competition. In his debut season with the Montreal Impact, then-18-year-old Tabla scored a brilliant goal in the 2017 Canadian Championship final, which his club would go on to lose 3-2 on aggregate. Last year, he tallied a pair of late goals, including the game-winner, in the quarter-finals, as Montreal defeated HFX 3-1 en route to winning the competition. Now with two Canadian Championship titles to his name, and two straight appearances in the Canadian Premier League team of the week, could more Tabla magic await? One thing to watch is how Ottawa decides to deploy him during the match. He has mostly played as a right-wingback so far this season, but against Pacific played up top to decidedly promising results. “I think that Ballou is a player with good experience,” said González, “that he can play in different positions, a little bit more wide, a little bit inside or more like a false striker, and we are happy that he is a versatile player, that he can give us things from all parts of the field.
“We are looking forward to doing a good competition, step by step. Tomorrow we have York, we know that is going to be a tough match. But we are motivated to continue going round by round. And who knows? I think this competition can be a great experience, great matches against MLS clubs, so it is a great opportunity.” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González
“I think we are going to go at them really, I think it is a big match and I think we want to play, we want to go at teams. So I think we are going to go at them from the start, put pressure on them and see if we can get an early goal.” — York United head coach Martin Nash