PREVIEW: York United vs. Atlético Ottawa — Match #14 (ComeOn! Match of the Week)

2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #14 (ComeOn! Match of the Week)
York United vs. Atlético Ottawa
April 29, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. ET
York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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It’s another Friday Night Lights match at York Lions Stadium this week, as York United host fellow Ontarians Atlético Ottawa in both sides’ fourth match of the 2022 CPL season.

Martin Nash’s Nine Stripes are at home trying to keep their momentum going, having picked up points in their last two games. They banked their first win of the year last Friday night, as goals from Oliver Minatel and Osaze De Rosario were enough to secure a 2-0 York victory over Cavalry FC in Nash’s first game against his former employer.

After three games, York have a 1-1-1 record and sit fifth in the league table (level on points with third-place Valour and fourth-place Forge). They’ve scored three goals so far — two of them highlight-reel efforts by De Rosario — as they continue to build a new attacking structure under Nash.

“I think at this point in the year we’re just trying to improve every game,” Nash told reporters on Thursday. “We’re just working hard, it’s still early going. We’re not the finished article. We just want to be better every game, and if we do that we’ll be good come the end of the year.”

RELATED: Newsroom: Valour, Forge & York United join the win column in Week 3 (ft. William Akio)

Ottawa, meanwhile, head down to York needing a bounce-back performance after last Sunday’s calamitous loss at home to Valour. Although they started the season with two straight home wins over Cavalry and HFX Wanderers, they lost 6-1 to the Winnipeg club on an afternoon that coach Carlos González would probably like to put behind him quickly.

Still, Atleti remain second in the table thanks to the six points they earned from their first two matches. The six goals they conceded to Valour are, in fact, the only six they’ve given up all season. They’ll therefore be eager to prove that the real Atlético Ottawa is that of the first two games rather than the most recent one.

Historically, there’s been little to separate York and Ottawa on the pitch. In six meetings between them — five of them last season — only one game has had a winner (a 2-0 victory for York last September), with the rest being draws.

In terms of availability, Ottawa remain without defender Drew Beckie, who serves the last of his three-game suspension. Aside from that, Atleti have a mostly clean bill of health. York, meanwhile, will be missing Mateo Hernández, who has two games left on his own suspension, and Michael Petrasso is expected to miss “a couple weeks” with injury, according to Nash. They’ll be buoyed by the return of Lowell Wright, though, as the young striker returns from Canada’s U-20 camp in Costa Rica.

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  • Will Ottawa revert after squad rotation? Carlos González surprised a few in Ottawa with a rotated starting XI last Sunday against Valour. Centre-back Macdonald Niba and midfielder Ben McKendry sat out of the lineup as Abdou Sissoko and José Cunha made their first starts for the club. González admitted postmatch that both choices had been tactical changes, with Niba and McKendry both coming in as substitutes when the score was already out of hand. On Friday, Ottawa will most likely return to what worked for them in the prior two games, with McKendry sitting in the double midfield pivot alongside Ollie Bassett. They’ve had to adapt defensively since Drew Beckie’s suspension (which ends after this game), but the structure of the Cavalry match seemed to work much better than last Sunday’s. “I don’t think that the things that didn’t work last day wouldn’t work in the future,” González told media on Thursday. “Everything depends on the situation, on the moment, and of course all these games give us information… Information is power, so now we have more information and we’re going to be able to do things better surely.”
  • York flexing quality on wings: Part of the reason for York United’s success last week against Cavalry was their ability to get behind the Cavs’ fullbacks and create from the wide areas of the pitch. Max Ferrari and Oliver Minatel were the drivers of that wing play, stretching their opponents horizontally and giving midfielders options along both touchlines. Add fullbacks Chrisnovic N’sa and Diyaeddine Abzi to that mix and the Nine Stripes are overflowing with talent in the wide areas. This team is generally well-organized and wants to be purposeful with possession, but they do have the ability to go quickly with a long switch of play out to the wings. Ferrari, who wasn’t 100% healthy to start the season, will hope to truly get going in this game after his first start last week.
  • Short turnaround a boon for Ottawa? When you lose a game as badly as Atlético Ottawa did last week — especially at home — sometimes the best thing to do is put it behind you as quickly as possible. So, Atleti may actually be glad for the shorter turnaround between games this week, going from a match on Sunday to one the following Friday. They’ll have some time to work on things in training, but more importantly they have a chance to redeem themselves quickly and put themselves back on an upward trajectory. “Having an opportunity to change the image of the team as soon as possible is good for us at the moment,” González explained. “Every day that came along was a long day, so now this playing in only five days of difference is a good issue for us.” 


York United wins: 1 || Atlético Ottawa wins: 0 || Draws: 5

Previous match:

October 24, 2021 — Atlético Ottawa 1-1 York United


“(Ottawa) are a very good team, they’ve done very well. They had a blip last weekend but the first two games they didn’t concede a goal. You think they’re going to come back strong and wanting to prove themselves.” — York United head coach Martin Nash

“The motivation is higher than the last game of course, because we want to have the opportunity to change the dynamic and return to our performance of the first games… We analyzed what we did wrong, we’ve been working to improve it.” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González