The CPL’s first expansion franchise took a 2-0 lead early in the second half against York9 FC on Saturday, and looked set to record a huge upset win in their league debut at The Island Games in Charlottetown.
But it all fell apart rather quickly for Ottawa, who had a player sent off and then conceded two goals in quick succession, as the capital club settled for a 2-2 draw against the Nine Stripes.
Mohamed Kourouma and Malcolm Shaw scored for Atlético, who played the last 40 minutes a man down after Vashon Neufville was sent off. Rookie Lowell Wright and Joseph Di Chiara replied for York9.
There wasn’t much between the sides in what was a pretty quiet first half, with York9’s Ryan Telfer and Di Chiara carving out the best scoring chances, although Ottawa ‘keeper Nacho Zabal was never seriously tested.
But then history was made in first-half injury time. Neufville made a scampering run down the left flank and burst into the box before playing the ball inside the box for Kourouma who beat Y9 goalkeeper Nathan Ingham to score Ottawa’s first CPL goal.
Ottawa padded its lead shortly after the halftime break. Ben Fisk played a great through ball for Francisco Acuña, and the Mexican rushed down the right side and played a square pass for Shaw, whose shot deflected off the back of Y9 defender Morey Doner and into the back of the net.
Ottawa was reduced to 10 men just minutes later when Neufville earned his second yellow card, which proved to be a major turning point in the match.
Moments later Y9 was awarded a penalty, which Di Chiara converted to level the score. York carried the bulk of the play for the rest of the match, but couldn’t break open Ottawa’s defence and had to settle for a share of the points.
Notably, Spanish striker Alvaro Rivero, signed by Y9 this off-season, earned a start in his CPL debut. Y9 was without midfielders Chris Mannella and Michael Petrasso and fullback Fugo Segawa due to injuries, while captain Manny Aparicio started on the bench. Ironman defender Luca Gasparotto, the only CPLer to play all 2520 minutes in the 2019 season, wore the captain’s armband.
York9 FC returns to action on Aug. 18 when it takes on Pacific FC (1:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. AT), while Atlético Ottawa faces Valour FC on Aug. 19 (1:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. AT)