PREVIEW: York United vs. Atlético Ottawa — Match #69

2021 CPL regular season — Match #69
York United vs. Atlético Ottawa
September 14, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET
York Lions Stadium, Toronto, Ontario
Watch Live: // Tickets available here


Atlético Ottawa will pay their first visit to York Region on Tuesday night, as they travel west from the nation’s capital to take on a surging York United team.

The Nine Stripes will enter this home clash riding a wave of confidence, after they beat 905 Derby rivals Forge FC on Saturday with a resounding 2-0 win at Tim Hortons Field. Thanks to that result, and a hard-won point on the road at HFX Wanderers FC the Monday before, York now find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race, currently tied with Valour FC for the fourth and final spot on 22 points.

Having fought out that win at Forge over an intense 90 minutes, York will need to recover quickly and try to build on that momentum as they remain in the hunt for that playoff spot.

“We’ve got a little spell where we’re at home, we’re feeling confident at the moment,” coach Jimmy Brennan told reporters on Monday. “We’ve just come up with a result, but a few draws before that, and we want to carry this into the next game against Ottawa tomorrow night.”

Atlético Ottawa, on the other hand, have seen themselves slip out of that picture recently with some dropped points. A late winner for HFX meant Ottawa lost 2-1 at home on Saturday, after falling 1-0 to Forge at TD Place in midweek. As it stands, Mista’s side are firmly in the basement of the CPL with 13 points from 17 games — four behind seventh-place FC Edmonton, and nine back of York and Valour.

This will be the third time these two Ontario sides have met in 2021, with both prior meetings being a draw at TD Place. The first time, Alberto Soto scored a late equalizer for Ottawa to save a 1-1 result for the hosts, and just two weeks ago it was Malcolm Shaw who secured the 2-2 draw for Ottawa near the end of the 90 minutes.

Nothing has been able to separate these teams yet; will we have a winner this time around?

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  • Stop the broken record from spinning: It is, at this point, exasperating for Atlético Ottawa to keep seeing results slip away under similar circumstances. They’ve given up nine penalty kicks this season, which have caused them to drop a lot of points, both home and away. Almost every Ottawa match feels like a similar story — they’ll play very well at times, and look great in possession, but they can’t quite connect for the final ball and some mistakes at the back (often a penalty) will doom them to a disappointing draw or a loss. That kind of repetitive frustration has left coach Mista searching for answers: “We don’t know if we can do anything else more to win the game,” he said after the loss to HFX on Saturday. “We created, we had possession, we recovered the ball very soon, but the problem is the luck is not with us and I don’t know.” It’s about time Ottawa flip the script; they’re a talented group capable of some big results, but they have to find a way to keep their composure in the penalty area (at both ends).
  • York looking lethal in transition: Part of what made York so successful on Saturday in Hamilton was their ability to launch attacks very quickly upon losing the ball. Max Ferrari, in particular, has been key to helping York get upfield in transition before the other side has a chance to set up. Atlético Ottawa are a side that does prefer to play with possession in a well-organized shape, but they can definitely be exposed by quick counter-attacks. Look for York to try and win the ball around the middle and use players like Ferrari and Diyaeddine Abzi to launch direct passes or runs upfield to get at Ottawa’s backtracking defenders as quickly as possible. This threat in transition is, according to Jimmy Brennan, a big part of the club’s gameplan: “When we do go, we go with numbers and we go with pace,” he said. “It’s something that we work an awful lot on; we talk about with our players an awful lot to read the game, see the game, not just watch the ball. You’ve got to look at positions so if you do receive the ball, what’s open, what’s available, and you can see right away.”
  • Diversity of strike options makes York unpredictable: Jimmy Brennan’s side has found strength this season in the fact that they have a group of strikers who can all do major damage to the opponent — but in different ways. Lowell Wright, the youngest of the group, has shown an incredible ability to hold up play and work the ball in tight spaces in the box. Julian Ulbricht is a very intelligent centre-forward who can get to the right place at the right time with his dangerous runs in behind. Alvaro Rivero probably rates near the top of the CPL in pure finishing ability, being a dynamic player who can seemingly score from anywhere in or around the penalty area. All three players have similarities, but they’re also all different propositions for defenders to deal with. If one of them starts, Brennan can insert another later in the match to try and catch the other side off guard. Brennan himself agreed that such diversity is an asset for his side, revealing that he looks to deploy them strategically based on the opponent: “Every game we put them in, we’re trying to match (the strikers) with the opposition and trying to find some weakness we can get,” Brennan told reporters on Monday.


Atlético Ottawa wins: 0 || York United wins: 0 || Draws: 3

Previous match:

September 1, 2021 — Atlético Ottawa 2-2 York United


“The luck has avoided us this season, but this is where we need to continue. We cannot stop now.” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Mista

“We’ve got to make sure that we start right and continue that momentum and that effort we put in the other night against Forge; it’s got to be the same if not better.” — York United head coach Jimmy Brennan