PREVIEW: Vancouver FC vs. Atlético Ottawa — 2024 Match #19

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #19
Vancouver FC vs. Atlético Ottawa
May 12, 2024 at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET
Willoughby Community Park in Langley, British Columbia
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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Matchday #4 of the 2024 Canadian Premier League season wraps up with a special Mother’s Day match, as Vancouver FC hosts Atlético Ottawa at Langley’s Willoughby Community Park on Sunday.

There, it’s a matchup between two teams trending in different directions, as Ottawa remains one of three undefeated CPL teams through four weeks of action, while Vancouver is fresh off back-to-back losses after starting the year with back-to-back wins.

Despite that, it promises to be a good game, as form doesn’t typically seem to play a role when these two teams meet.

That ended up manifesting itself in 2023, as in the first-ever meeting between the two sides saw a slumping Ottawa side beat Vancouver 5-0, a result that gave Ottawa some much-needed life early in their season.

Then, later in the campaign, Vancouver surprised Ottawa with a big 2-1 win in their final meeting of the season, one that sparked a run of four wins in five games from the Eagles to help close out their inaugural season on a high note.

Because of that, both teams will treat this as a one-off game, as Ottawa will try not to think too much about their streak, while Vancouver will focus on hitting the reset button after their road losses.

Yet, speaking of that last point, that’s a reason why Vancouver will be optimistic heading into this game, as they return back home. Having started the year with a pair of emphatic home victories, defeating Valour 4-1 and the Halifax Wanderers 2-0, they’ll want to return to what they showed in those matches after their woes on the road.

Given that the start of the year has favoured those at home, with road teams having a record of 2W-2D-11L through the first 15 games of the season, Vancouver knows that it’s imperative that they turn Willoughby Community Park into a fortress.

Having just experienced first-hand how difficult road travel can be, they know how important a game like this can be for them to win, as dropping points at home can always be costly in the long run.

“It’s very challenging for players,” Vancouver’s head coach, Afshin Ghotbi, said ahead of this match. “Most players need six to eight weeks in the beginning of a season to become fully match fit, so when they’re forced to play every four days, It’s not an easy task, and we’re seeing that as very few teams are getting results on the road, most of the teams are are winning their home games.”

He added: “The team is really refreshed, we’re very excited to be at home again, we’re a different team here than when we’re on the road, so our plan is to come out on the front foot, to play aggressive and try to get maximum points.”

As for Ottawa, they’re looking to buck that trend of road teams struggling, having picked up one of those two road wins that have occurred this year in a 3-1 win over the Wanderers on April 27th.

Having otherwise spent the rest of the season at home, this trip, in which they’ll also stick around in British Columbia and face Pacific FC on Vancouver Island next week, is their first true taste of being away from home.

In the past, this Ottawa side have been road warriors under head coach Carlos González, ones who know how to frustrate opponents, and they’ll look to channel that mentality in this game, allowing them to maintain their hot start.

“What we always try to do is try to control the strengths of the opponents,” González explained. “And Vancouver’s Moses Dyer and Alejandro Díaz are dynamic up front, so what we have to do is to keep them as far away from our net.”

“But at the end of the day, we’ll also focus what we’re doing, and I think our team is growing in the right way (to keep doing that).”

Otherwise, both teams enter this game with most of their players at their disposition, with González noting that his side has no new injuries, leaving Kévin dos Santos as their lone absence, while Vancouver is expected to welcome back Kadin Chung and Zach Verhoven into their squad after injuries, although Ghotbi didn’t say if David Norman Jr or Matteo Campagna will feature after picking up injuries against Cavalry last week.

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  • Vancouver looking to use extra rest to their advantage: After navigating a run of four games in 12 days across multiple competitions to start the season, Vancouver will be pleased to see how the schedule lined up for them heading into this game, as they’ll enter with over a week of rest under their belt, having last played on Friday, May 3rd against Cavalry. With those eight days of preparation time between matches, they’ll look to come out with fresh legs and a return to the identity they showed in their first few games, before the fatigue caught up to them. In a busy season, one where games start to come thick and thin, these moments of rest can be crucial to teams, especially if they can use them to their advantage. Now, however, it’ll be important for them to come out strongly, using that energy to their advantage. The big worry with too much rest is always rust, and the best way to shake that off is to come out with a lot of tempo and to take control of the game, something which Vancouver will now aim to do. “It was important within the team, especially in terms of getting over the past couple of games that we’ve had, and not getting the points that we wanted and not performing the way that we wanted,” Vancouver’s Gabriel Bitar said ahead of this one. “So I think these days off have really helped us gain back some confidence and build some trust within the team, so we should be good to go on Sunday.”


  • Ottawa set to lean on depth after busy couple of weeks: While Vancouver enters this game fresh, the same can’t be said for Ottawa, who has had to deal with back-to-back midweek matches due to their continued involvement in the Canadian Championship, which saw them play their most recent match on Wednesday, May 8th against Pacific in that competition. That means that for them, this Vancouver match is already their fourth in May, showing the impact that has had on their schedule. Safe to say, fatigue could be a big factor, seeing what a similar schedule did to Vancouver. Despite that, they don’t mind the challenge – Ottawa entered the year noting that they want to make a deep run in the Canadian Championship and contend for trophies in CPL play. Given that they’re one game away from the Canadian Championship semi-finals, and sit first in the CPL through four weeks, they’re on track in that regard, and will want to keep steady in pursuit of their goals. That’s why they had a busy offseason, shoring up their depth across multiple positions, so look for them to dip a bit deeper into their squad than they have so far needed to, helping them overcome this stretch while still pushing for their goals. “When you play a lot of games in a short amount of time, you have to try and manage the roster so that the team is always in the perfect condition to to try to win the game,” González explained. “And I am happy with the work that we did in the offseason, we have a pretty deep squad.”


  • High-flying offences set to take centre stage: Through four weeks, Ottawa and Vancouver have emerged as two of the most dangerous attacking teams in the league, as Ottawa leads the league with eight goals in four games (an average of 2.00 per game), while Vancouver sits tied for second with seven goals in four games (an average of 1.75 per game). They’ve accumulated those goals in different ways, as Ottawa’s spread their tally across all of their four games, while six of Vancouver’s goals came in their two home games, but what that shows is how potent both can be on their day. Plus, given that Vancouver will be at home in this match, after scoring one goal in two road games, they’ll want to return to those high-flying ways, so they’ll be expected to come out with an aggressive offensive approach. Because of that, don’t be surprised if the goals flow in this game, as both teams have a seemingly endless supply of players who can put the ball in the back of the net, from the likes of Alejandro Díaz, Moses Dyer and Gabriel Bitar on Vancouver, to Ollie Bassett, Ballou Tabla, Rubén del Campo and more on Ottawa.


Vancouver FC: Irving; Chung, Gee, Romeo, Cameron; Garcia, Fry; Cantave, Bitar; Dyer, Díaz

Atlético Ottawa: Ingham; Twardek, Didic, Singh, De Brienne; Sissoko, Zapater, Aparicio; Bassett, Tabla; Del Campo


Vancouver FC wins 1 || Atlético Ottawa wins: 3 || Draws: 0

Last meeting:

Sep 9, 2023 — Vancouver FC 2-1 Atlético Ottawa


“A big conversation within our group is that as players and as staff, we need to get out of our comfort zone and try to make the most and the best of every situation. If we play away, if we play at home, if it’s raining, windy, cold or snowing, even if we have to use a puck as a ball, it doesn’t matter – we are going to step up and we’re going to show a mentality that I think our club and our fans deserve. I think that it’s really important that for our players and our staff, that we have no excuses, that we go for every point and that we play to the best of our abilities in every game.” — Vancouver FC head coach Afshin Ghotbi

“I think that that we’ve been seeing our evolution (over the last few games) from how we started the first game. I think that if you put a picture of us in the first game, and a picture of us over the last few games, you would see a big evolution. I think that still we’re in that building process, in which we’re still trying to manage and find the best way to compete every single day, and the team is growing within that. In this moment, it’s good to have many games in a short amount of time because you can keep continuing to do what you’re doing well, or at least that’s how we see it, so we hope that we can take one more step forward in our evolution on Sunday against Vancouver.— Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González