PREVIEW: York United vs. Atlético Ottawa — Match #86

2021 CPL regular season — Match #86
York United vs. Atlético Ottawa
October 6, 2021 at 7:30 pm ET
York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ont.
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

York United will host Atlético Ottawa Friday night in a pre-Thanksgiving Weekend CPL clash with important implications for both Ontario sides.

OnRoutico, as it’s been dubbed by Highway 401-driving fans, is set to bring two Ontario teams going in different directions together… Just not on the roadway.

Ottawa, under head coach Mista, looks set to finish last in the 2021 regular season with six matches remaining. The side took the midweek off after losing to HFX Wanderers away last Wednesday and back home to Forge FC Sunday. Ottawa’s latter defeat was a heavy one at 3-0, with Mista crying out for a collective performance among his group that has won just once in 11 matches. Atlético Ottawa holds a 4-5-13 record and 17 points.

“We need to erase the bad feeling we had against Forge,” Mista said of the team’s recent defeat and morale. “We are in a process – we need to see our players continue to improve and try to enjoy playing because we have a great privilege playing football.”

York, meanwhile, will be licking their lips at Friday’s nightcap after their playoff rivals HFX Wanderers dropped a 1-0 decision to the other Ontario team in Forge on Wednesday. Jimmy Brennan’s side can draw four points clear of Halifax with a win, something they failed to do against those same Wanderers in a 2-2 draw Sunday. The Nine Stripes stand with a 7-9-5 record and 30 points – their current seven-match unbeaten run is a club record and best among the CPL at present.

York signed midfielder Javier George on Thursday with the 20-year-old native of Guyana arriving from Toronto FC Academy and lower-league French club Stade Beaucairois. He won’t be available for selection, sadly, on Friday: “Five minutes into his first training session he rolled his ankle,” Brennan said with a grin. “So, uh, he’s out.”

While Friday’s match seems straightforward in terms of a predictable result, recent upset matches (including Ottawa’s 3-1 over Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton’s 2-1 dispatching of Pacific FC on Wednesday) remind us there are no easy wins in the CPL.

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  • York (almost) fully fit on home stretch: Save for George, York comes into Friday’s tilt fully fit, potentially for the first time of the season. Brennan’s team had gone from a patchwork of injured players in June (after a noticeable lack of pre-season training, mind you) to arriving on the homestretch with a certain spunk the gaffer can’t deny. “Competitiveness is getting stronger – it’s become a lot more intense now with 20-something guys out there,” Brennan said, indirectly referring to the team’s unbeaten streak coming into an important part of the season. “Training has been very positive, lots of energy. Everybody knows what’s at stake and they don’t want to be a part of it in play.” As mentioned, a win Friday would put York into the fourth and final playoff spot with a neat four-point gap on Halifax.
  • Ottawa with lots to play for, finding a core: Meanwhile, Viti Martinez is the only Ottawa player on the injured list for the visitors, giving Mista a near-full slate to choose from at an important part of the season. Ottawa will be, undoubtedly, looking to assess which players will come back for the 2022 season in These parts of otherwise dead-rubber seasons have been valuable for CPL clubs in the past when finding a core and consistently for the following year. HFX Wanderers, just as an example, went from last to CPL finalist in 2020, picking out a core of important players to drive them the previous season.While it’s too early to suggest Ottawa is prepped for a worst-to-first-type year-over-year turnaround, 2021 has given Mista his first full season to assess his squad.

    “When we finish a season, we need to decide if the coach isn’t good to continue which players continue or not,” Mista said. “This is our world – the club will need to decide.”

  • Matchups to watch in Ottawa’ attacking third: Alright, we’ll throw this out there: Ottawa’s attack is one of the league’s tamest while York’s backline, starting with centreback Dom Zator, has been one of the most formidable. York has conceded just five times at home – the best such record in the CPL, though two of them came last time out against Halifax. Those came down to marking miscues and mistakes and stand as the only match the Nine Stripes have conceded multiple goals at home in 2021.The honus will be on Ottawa to create the attacking magic, something not lost on Mista recently: “In the last eight games, I’d say we haven’t been able to keep the ball, place play faster. We need to keep the possession and try to take advantage of the space – especially behind their fullbacks.”


York United wins: 1 || Atlético Ottawa wins: 0 || Draws: 3

Previous match:

Sept. 14, 2021 — York United 2-0 Atlético Ottawa


“Halifax has some difficult matches coming up – there are no easy games in this league… Everyone has a tough schedule. Teams are upsetting each other everywhere and we have to be aware of that.” – York United coach Jimmy Brennan

“I feel the support for everyone. We want to get victories and create good news but we know this beginning is more difficult for us than the other teams. When you’re in a process like us you need to have bad news because, in the future, that could change to good.” Atlético Ottawa coach Mista