OTTAWA – Time is a fickle friend to those who have it.
By its very nature, it rolls along, every minute, every hour, every day.
For newly-born Atlético Ottawa, time is also a luxury. There isn’t much of it remaining before the Canadian Premier League kicks off its second season, expected to commence by mid-April.
There’s still a long list of work to be done with “Ottleti” – player signings, chief among them. But, with a head coach secured in Miguel Mista, and the sheer horsepower and resources that Atlético Madrid can provide, CPL commissioner David Clanachan expects to overcome the team’s “main, ongoing challenge – time.”
“We knew that adding an eighth team changes the league’s profile, but it also changes the schedule,” Clanachan told CanPL.ca. “All of a sudden, the schedule balances, you don’t have the same amount of match days even though you have the same amount of matches home and away, but it all straightens itself out, and it adds more competition and creates new rivalries.”
He added: “We knew we had to push hard and the guys responded and said, ‘Okay, if you help us, we’ll do it.’ And of course we’re going to help them – we’re partners!”
Indeed, the league’s head honchos have been hard at work behind the scenes, priming Atlético Ottawa for its inaugural campaign. The Commissioner confirmed that, despite the CPL-U SPORTS Draft already taking place, Mista’s side will still have access to player signings out of the Canadian university system.
And, as Clanachan explained, there are more resources available to Ottleti, too.
“I can tell you from the minute we said go, when we pushed the button, Atlético’s been on,” Clanachan told reporters in Ottawa. “They’ve got teams of people, a big organization, looking at players. They understand. We’ve been helping them at the league office with Canadians that aren’t signed to teams right now, but with foreign players as well.
“They’re doing some of that with the (central international scouting) program we put together with the 21st Club in the UK. They’re well ahead of this. I have one hundred per cent confidence that a club with 116 years of history (can do this). The footballing knowledge they have? They’ve forgotten more about football than most of us know. I’m confident they can field a good team and it’ll be great for the country and great for Ottawa.”
Clanachan added: “You’re going to see names drop very quickly,” Clanachan answered. “You got the coach today. But, we have to put one foot ahead of the other. We’re running, but we’re running at pace. We’re not sprinting.”
So, why the rush? Why not just wait for 2021?
The main reason, as Clanachan points out, is that the aforementioned resources give this new club plenty of advantages in roster building. But, more than that, the Spanish outfit wanted to go forward with 2020, too.
“In the end, we made this decision over the last two weeks, and the two options were to start right now, without (much) time, or wait one more year,” offered Club Atlético de Madrid CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín. “David and (CSB CEO) Scott (Mitchell) pressed us to do it right now and the idea is to do our best, but this first season will not be easy, for sure. But, the structure of the competition will allow us to compete. Still, the first season will be tough for us.”
Another question still to be answered regarding Atlético Ottawa’s first CPL campaign is whether they will be participating in the 2020 Canadian Championship. To that end, Clanachan offered some new information.
“So, the Canadian Championship, this is certainly something that, although we have the rights to broadcasting and sponsorship and all that as part of our deal with Canada Soccer, it’s a Canada Soccer property. They make the rules. We’ve formally asked for a meeting on how we can get Ottawa into the Canadian Championship, and it’s in process. But, certainly, Peter Montopoli and Joe Guest have been very receptive to including them in the Canadian Championship.”