PREVIEW: FC Edmonton vs. Atlético Ottawa — CPL Match #28

2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #28
FC Edmonton vs. Atlético Ottawa
May 20, 2022 at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET
Clarke Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta
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This weekend’s action in the Canadian Premier League concludes in Edmonton on Sunday as FC Edmonton host Atlético Ottawa at Clarke Stadium in the Albertan capital.

After serving a one match ban, Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez is also back with the club and able to return to the sideline. Assistant coach Kwesi Loney filled in their last game — a 1-1 draw on the road against Forge FC. Ollie Bassett finished off an impressive team goal to give his team a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute, but a long range goal from Forge youngster Noah Jensen earned The Hammers a point at Tim Hortons Field.

The Eddies were less successful in their road game, as they went west to play the reigning champions Pacific FC. Alejandro Diaz continued his start to the season with a goal in the 10th minute, before Josh Heard doubled the home side’s lead just after the hour mark. Wesley Timoteo pulled one back for FC Edmonton in the 73rd minute, but they couldn’t find a second and lost for a third league game in a row, and fourth in all competitions.

The Edmonton Oilers are in town as well on Sunday, a couple of kilometres away at Rogers Place for game three of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the rival Calgary Flames. Their success over the past few weeks has built up a bit of momentum in the city, one that Koch hopes will have a positive effect on his team as well.

“Being in a city in Canada that’s in the NHL playoffs is awesome,” Koch said on Friday. “You see orange, blue, and Oilers jerseys everywhere you go. It brings a lot of positive energy to the city and we would love to be part of that. We’re 100% behind the Oilers. The more success a community has, the more that helps everybody else in the community.”

The Eddies currently sit at the bottom of the CPL standings, with three points from seven matches and a 0-3-4 record. Ottawa have started the season well and are part of a congested pack in the middle of the table, with eight points from six games and a 2-2-2 record. A 6-1 defeat at the hands of Valour FC a few weeks ago has left their goal difference in the negatives, something that they’ll hope they can wipe out with a string of positive results.

The two sides have played each four times since Atlético Ottawa entered the league ahead of the 2020 CPL season. The Eddies are yet to beat  Sunday’s opponents through four meetings, with the sides drawing twice, and Ottawa winning the other two. Their most recent meeting came at Clarke Stadium in October, a seven-goal thriller won by the capital club in a battle of seventh versus eigth.

Brian Wright scored twice in the opening half on either side of a goal from Azriel Gonzalez, before strikes from Ben McKendry and Alberto Soto saw Ottawa up 4-1 before the hour mark. Adam Najem scored for The Eddies a few minutes after Soto’s tally, before a Fraser Aird penalty made it 4-3 with about 15 minutes to go. The Eddies pushed to complete the miracle comeback, but weren’t able to find a fourth.

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  • Ottawa play outside Ontario for the first time this season: Atlético Ottawa have had a relatively slow start to the season in terms of travelling for away games to begin their 2022 season, but that comes to an end this week. Four of their first six matches this season have come at home, while their two away games were inside the province of Ontario still — against York United and most recently Forge FC. A trip to Edmonton for Sunday’s match kicks off a two-game road trip, which will also see them visit Valour FC in Winnipeg on Wednesday, June 1. They went 1-3-6 away from TD Place a season ago, but have so far been solid on the road in 2022. In both of their away games this season they’ve picked up a single point, but were leading for parts of the match. If they can start to see out matches when they have the lead, they can continue to earn the points that they’ve dropped so far in the early stages of the season. Their only road victory of the 2021 season came against FC Edmonton, the aforementioned seven-goal thriller at Clarke Stadium.
  • Versatility key for FC Edmonton: Dealing with several absences to key players — including Tobias Warschewski, Luke Singh, Shamit Shome, Azriel Gonzalez and Andreas Vaikla, among others — FC Edmonton had to rotate the squad quite a bit. They also switched up their formation, starting the game with a 4-4-2 formation as opposed to the 5-3-2 they have also experimented with for a lot of the season. It wasn’t the first time this season they’ve switched up their approach as Alan Koch looks to get the most out of his still relatively unfamiliar squad. The players are still acclimating to playing with one another and are a very young group, but their ability to be versatile is one of their strengths. “I like the 4-4-2, it’s a formation where you’re very compact and makes it difficult for teams to play through you, but it also means when you possess the ball you have two targets up front,” said Alan Koch on Friday. “That wasn’t the first time we’ve used it, we’ve used it a few times. We don’t really focus as much on formations, we focus on the principles of how we’re trying to play with and without the ball. That’s pretty consistent irrespective of how exactly we line up.”
  • Can Ottawa build on draw away to Forge?: Atlético Ottawa came firing out of the gates in 2022, winning both of their first two matches — 1-0 victories at home against Cavalry FC and HFX Wanderers. Their form then dipped with a 6-1 home defeat at the hands of Valour FC, before losing their lead against York United and drawing 2-2 at York Lions Stadium on a 94th minute goal from Dom Zator. They followed that up with a 1-0 loss at home to Pacific FC in which they were the better team for stretches of the match, and a loss in the Canadian Championship Preliminary Round to that same York United side, before picking up a 1-1 draw away to Forge FC last weekend. It was a deserved point on the road for Ottawa, who took the lead on a great team goal finished off by Ollie Bassett — who has been one of the best players in the league through six matches. Not only was it the first goal Ottawa has ever scored against Forge, but it was the first point against them in seven attempts. A big performance for the club, despite only picking up a single point, it’s important that they build on it and start gaining some momentum.


FC Edmonton wins: 0 || Atlético Ottawa wins: 2 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

October 12, 2021 — FC Edmonton 3-4 Atlético Ottawa


“I think they’re the club that had the best offseason, they brought in some top players. I wasn’t surprised to see them come out of the gates blazing, and we know it’s going to be a tough challenge.” — FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch

“It’s not going to be an easy game, as any game in the CPL. Edmonton, I feel, are a very organized team, I think that they’re competing well against every team, they are not giving easy games. They have young players, very energetic, very vertical. I trust my team and I trust the work we’ve done during the week, and I hope we can bring home the three points.” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez