Final Score: Atlético Ottawa 1-6 Valour FC Goalscorers: Sirois 40' (OG); Dyer 14' + 50', Riggi 27' + 45+2', Romeo 45', Levis 69' Game of the 2022 season: 12 CPL match: 263
Match in a Minute or Less:Valour FC picked up their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon, beating Atlético Ottawa 6-1 at TD Place. Moses Dyer and Alessandro Riggi each scored a brace for the visitors, with Dyer's penalty opening the floodgates in the 14th minute. Riggi made it two with a tap in from close range 13 minutes later, finishing off a perfect cross from William Akio, whose ball into the box found his teammate at the back post. Ottawa's lone goal was friendly fire from Valour goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois in the first half, who redirected a cross from Max Tissot into his own net five minutes before the break, but they couldn't hang on to keep it at 2-1 going into halftime, conceding twice more in the following few minutes. Rocco Romeo headed home a cross in the 45th minute, before Riggi scored his second in stoppage time with some impressive footwork and a low shot under Nathan Ingham. After the break, Dyer added another in the 50th minute, beating Ingham after a pass into his feet from Akio, before a stunning solo goal from Brett Levis in the 69th minute put a cherry on top for the visiting side.
Akio, Dyer, Ricci and Rea a dangerous four-pronged attacking unitValour were ruthless in this match, taking advantage of several chances created by their two wingers William Akio and Sean Rea. Ottawa had no match for Akio in this game, and the South Sudan international was cutting through the Ottawa backline regularly, especially in the opening 45 minutes. Ottawa left back Max Tissot was tasked with being an attacking player for his own side, and defending Akio, and it proved to be a tough task to do it on his own. Akio's speed makes it nearly impossible for anyone to catch up to him once he's past them, and his elite crossing ability was again on display, especially on Valour's second goal. While he wasn't officially credited with an assist on the play because of a slight deflection, the 23-year-old's cross to the back post was dangerous, and found Alessandro Riggi for his first of the game. Riggi added a second goal later in the half, dribbling around Miguel Acosta before sliding the ball under Ingham. It was again created in part by Akio, whose pass found Matthew Catavolo, who took the shot that struck the post before falling to Riggi's feet. Akio also set up Moses Dyer's second goal after the break, playing a pass to the New Zealand international who scored to make it 5-1, while Rea led the team with two assists on the goals scored by Romeo and Levis. Levis' effort, a solo effort that saw him beat a few defenders before a well-struck shot with his weaker right foot, was the best goal ever scored in his career, according to the man himself. Phil Dos Santos was all smiles in his postgame press conference, and was especially happy with Riggi, who he admitted he was tough on in training this week. "Oh man, I was hard on him this week, he can attest to that because he's a player that has a lot of quality, but I always felt that he had a second gear, and was still not giving us that second gear," said the Valour head coach. "I challenged him to that, and he responded, and that's what I want to see from players, because now he gave me an answer. Every time he drops from what he did today in his work, in his intensity and how pragmatic he was on the ball, I'll show him and I'll go back to this every time he deviates from it." Dos Santos also stressed that while the performance was "nearly to perfection", he's also a very demanding coach and will find things that they still need to work on. With a week now before their next game against Forge -- their home opener at IG Field -- there is a lot for his team to build on. There's 25 matches left still, but if Valour can show the kind of attacking prowess they did on Sunday, they will cause a lot of teams trouble this season.
"The good thing in football is that you always have another game" -- Ottawa want to bounce back in a big way"Everything" was the first thing Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez said when asked in his postgame press conference about what went wrong for his team. "Everything went wrong. I think they did a perfect game, and we did our worst game. There was a clear plan of how to maintain the speed and the individuals, and we weren't capable to keep attached to that plan. "I think that we started to lose the game in the individuals, because they started stronger than us, and started to win every duel. We didn't manage well the key moments of the game. After [the early penalty] we started to think more about the referee than the game and what was happening, so we gave them the option to score the second goal very fast." Ottawa looked slow out of the gates in this match, and crumbled under pressure several times, often when one of the Valour attacker (especially William Akio) ran at them directly. Gonzalez swapped out the experienced duo of Ben McKendry and Macdonald Niba for Jose Cunha and Abdou Sissoko ahead of this match, and the duo's experience and levelheadedness were missed. The entire squad at times seemed to be drawn into making reckless, impulsive decisions, and this led to the aforementioned penalty charged to Sissoko, as well as a handful of other errors that when strung together turned into a disappointing day at the office. Gonzalez said that he didn't have any message to the team after the match -- something he does (or doesn't do) after every match win or lose -- and that tomorrow's training session will be a better time to analyse what went down, after everyone has had some time to breathe a little. Midfielder Ollie Bassett, who played 76 minutes in the losing effort, said that the performance was "unacceptable", but that the club need to avoid pointing fingers or make excuses. He said that they turned over the ball too much, left open big spaces for Valour to exploit, and "made things extremely difficult" for themselves from the first minute onwards. With two wins and a loss in three matches to begin the season, and more importantly 25 matches still to be played, Bassett stressed that they need to put this game behind them, and turn their attention to their first road game of the season on Friday against York United. "Every season's not going to be straightforward," he said. "You're going to lose games, you're going to win games, you're going to draw games. Don't get too high when you win, but then also don't get too low when you lose. The good thing in football is that you always have another game, and we have another game next Friday to hopefully put things right against York, but ultimately today was unacceptable and it wasn't anywhere near good enough."
Andrew Jean-Baptiste starts first game in return from injury, but is forced off during the first halfAfter tearing his ACL in July 2021, just seven games into the 2021 season, Valour FC centre-back Andrew-Jean Baptiste missed the rest of the year. He scored twice and was arguably the best defender during The Kickoff -- the bubble at IG Field to begin the 2021 season -- and was sorely missed by his team for the remaining 21 matches. Jean-Baptiste was an unused substitute in the team's first two matches of the season, but started on Sunday, at centre-back alongside Rocco Romeo. He completed 88% of his passes, made one interception and two clearances, and had one headed shot on target, before he was forced off the pitch midway through the first half. The Haiti international went down clutching his right leg, and was replaced by midfielder Matthew Catavolo just after the half-hour mark. Visibly frustrated, Jean-Baptiste's afternoon was done much earlier than expected. Head coach Phil Dos Santos said after the match that it was Jean-Baptiste's hamstring that got hurt, and not his ACL, and that he hopes it isn't another long term absence for their captain and best defender.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchWilliam Akio, Valour FC Atlético Ottawa had no answer for Valour FC winger William Akio on Sunday afternoon, as the South Sudan international set up multiple goals for his teammates, and was unlucky not to score himself with a shot that came back off the post in the first half.
What’s next?Atlético Ottawa hit the road for the first time in 2022, making the trip across Ontario to take on York United at York Lions Stadium on Friday, April 29 (7:30 pm ET). Valour return home for their first home game of the season at IG Field, hosting Forge FC on Sunday, May 1 (1:30 pm CT/ 2:30 pm ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.