2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #32
Valour FC vs. Atlético Ottawa
June 1, 2022 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT
Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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In a league as closely contested as the Canadian Premier League, few matchweeks go by without a surprising result. But perhaps no result was more shocking than Valour FC’s 6-1 drubbing of Atlético Ottawa back in late April.
It will be that embarrassment that Ottawa tries to avenge as they visit Winnipeg on Wednesday in a midweek clash between two sides currently in third and fourth place in the Canadian Premier League standings.
What made that result even more of an anomaly is it is one of only a pair of times this season that Atlético has allowed their opponent to score more than a single goal. They have the second-worst goals-against total in the entire league, but taking the Valour game out of the equation, they have allowed just five in their other six matches.
“It was an unusual match,” said Atlético Ottawa head coach González of the loss to Valour, “I think that they did the perfect game, and we did a terrible game. The reality is that the team is showing another face in the games that we have played [since]. I trust the team and I’m sure that tomorrow will be a good game and we are going to play with a different image than the first game.”
With 11 and nine points respectively through their first seven games, both Atlético Ottawa and Valour have arguably been the league’s two most improved sides to start the season.
Ottawa in particular has taken great strides. They are coming off of their first away victory of the season, 2-1 over FC Edmonton, accumulating their aforementioned 11th point. It took Ottawa until August 18, a full twelve matches, before they managed to pick up 11 points last season.
Valour, on the other hand, will be looking to continue their dominant stretch against Atleti. They have won four of five meetings since the inaugural match between these two sides, where Valour beat Ottawa 4-0 during the Island Games. The Winnipeg side also eliminated Ottawa from last year’s Canadian Championship.
Speaking of the Canadian Championship, both sides were eliminated in the preliminary round meaning neither played midweek. In fact, Ottawa hasn’t played since May 22, giving them plenty of time to prepare for this matchup.
Valour is coming off a draw 2-2 against the league leaders, Pacific, one that was a bit disappointing having gone up 2-0 in the first half. This match against Ottawa kicks off a stretch of three straight home matches, including a pair this week. They also play Edmonton at home on Sunday, in what could be a critical run of games for their season.
“We played five of the seven games we’ve had so far on the road, and we were able to still accumulate points,” said Valour coach Phillip Dos Santos. “We know that that only matters if we are able to take care of business at home.”
“We want to find consistency at home and make sure that we can come out of this stretch with the maximum points we can get.”
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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
- Despite a busy week, don’t anticipate much change for Valour: A big part of Valour’s success so far this season has been their lineup consistency. Their system, something of a fluid 4-4-2 that can quickly transform into a lethal 4-2-4 in attack, largely features the same players week in and week out. Despite three matches in eight days, Dos Santos mentioned that they haven’t really had to deal with fixture congestion much yet this season and that it is still early. So any changes to his lineup? “Don’t expect much,” he said. “I think that it is also good to build and make sure that the team grows with finding consistency in the lineup. Yes a little bit, but not a lot of movement. I feel that these games are important, and we can’t go out and make too many changes because the breaks the rhythm of the team”. For their part, Valour have a pretty healthy lineup, with Moses Dyer the only potential absence as he is currently considered day-to-day.
- Too early to label this a “six-pointer”: Valour and Ottawa have both quickly established themselves as playoff contenders, and in a highly congested middle of the table they will likely be battling each other all year for one of those spots. A win would put Ottawa five points clear of the playoff line. But just eight games into the season, González was quick to temper any overemphasis being put on this match despite the two side’s positioning in the standings. “We are in a moment where we can start to open gaps [in the table], but we are also in a moment that is still a very long way to go,” said González . “The league has just started, we have only played seven games and I think that. [A win tomorrow] would not be a definite result for the rest of the season. It is true that it is an important game, but as is every game in this league because of the small amount of team.”
- A rare weekend off could go either way for Ottawa: As aforementioned, with no Canadian Championship action midweek, and a rare weekend off, Atlético Ottawa will have had ten days rest going into tommorow’s match. The question is always whether that turns into rest or rust, as Valour learned earlier this season when they had their match against Forge postponed due to Covid protocols and were forced to regain their rhythm. “Yes they are rested,” said Dos Santos, “but sometimes that can kind of lead to needing a little bit of time to find rythym. So we have to take advantage of those elements as well”. For his part, González appreciated the extra time to train and work on some of his side’s weaknesses, he believes that added preparation will suit his side well when they step onto the field tomorrow.
Valour FC wins: 4 || Atlético Ottawa wins: 1 || Draws: 0
April 24, 2022 – Atlético Ottawa 1-6 Valour FC
“We are at home we have to match [their energy]. We have to play with intensity, part of our success in the game we played in Ottawa was the intensity of our team. We didn’t give them time and space on the ball and we were very aggressive on both sides of the ball.” — Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos
“We like to prepare for a game with a long week because we can get into more detail with the players, we can correct more the mistakes and the errors that we have done in the past. And I think that we need this, we needed this long week to prepare the team so that everybody is focused and everybody is in the best moment to play against Valour tomorrow. ” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González