Final Score: York United 0-3 Atlético Ottawa Goalscorers: Tabla 11' (Pen.), Wright 35', Bassett 62' (Pen.) Game of the 2022 season: 64 CPL match: 314
Match in a minute or lessAtlético Ottawa claimed a club-record away win on Sunday afternoon at York Lions Stadium, defeating York United 3-0 for their first-ever triumph over the Nine Stripes (and their first three-goal margin of victory on the road). Ballou Tabla got his side off the ground early with a penalty kick in just the 11th minute, and Brian Wright made it 2-0 before halftime by finishing off a superb counter-attack and a great pass from Maxim Tissot. York found a handful of chances early in the second half, but ultimately it was Ottawa again who found the net, from the penalty spot again -- this time it was Ollie Bassett who stepped up and truly put the game to bed. As a result, Ottawa leapt all the way from fourth to first in the league table, passing both Forge and Cavalry on points and pushing just ahead of Pacific on goal differential.
Atleti proving deserved league-leaders while York fail to gather momentumThe top four in the Canadian Premier League is becoming increasingly separated from the bottom, as the potentially playoff-bound sides continue to jockey for position amongst themselves. Atlético Ottawa came into this game in fourth place, but with things being so tight at the top they now find themselves atop the table -- for the first time in club history (though they've been joint-first before, but never ahead on tiebreakers as they are now). Over the course of this season Atleti have been continuously improving under Carlos González and are now proving that they deserve to be counted among the top sides in the league. Prior to this game, they'd never beaten York, so to do so now -- in such emphatic fashion, and in front of a raucous contingent of travelling fans -- sends yet another signal to the league that their place in the standings is well-earned. "I'm very proud," said Ottawa manager Carlos González postgame. "In this moment I feel proud for the players, for the team that we're building and the work they're doing, and how it's paying off. So at the moment I'm very happy." Drew Beckie, the side's captain, pointed out that, above all, Atleti have been finding ways to win: "That's what good teams do," he said. Meanwhile, the frustration continues to mount at York United; Martin Nash was clearly very annoyed with his side's performance, especially coming so soon after their impressive win in Calgary on Tuesday. "We talked all week about our mentality," he said. "They needed that same mentality, that energy we had on Tuesday, and we had plenty of time to recover. We came out real slow. We're trying to encourage the guys to get on and press and we were real quiet and slow, and gifted them a bad penalty, a bad touch. And then you're under pressure, right?"
York fail to break down cohesive Ottawa blockYork United are a side that has struggled to score goals in the past two months, and parts of Sunday's game felt like a very familiar story for them. They had a few very good attacking moments (although most of them came when they were already down by at least two goals) and failed to capitalize on them, instead getting burned again and conceding to let their momentum slip away. For good reason, Ottawa are one of the best defensive teams in the league, this being their seventh clean sheet of the season. Their flat back four of Maxim Tissot, Drew Beckie, Diego Espejo, and Miguel Acosta was so solid, with Abdou Sissoko sitting just in front of the centre-backs as a holding midfielder tasked solely with cutting out passes between the lines and preventing York from playing dangerous passes through the middle. As a team, Ottawa made 13 interceptions and they won possession from York 30 times, as they continuously made it hard for the hosts' front three to get the ball into the box cleanly. Only two of York's 13 shots were on target, with six of them coming from outside the box, which further demonstrates how well Ottawa did keeping them away from the most dangerous areas -- Atleti were comfortable allowing York to have the ball and take shots from distance, but they held their line and defended the central space well. "It's a mentality," Ottawa defender Drew Beckie said postmatch. "A lot of it is credit to the staff, the emphasis they put on the tactical work we do, the video we're watching, but it's also a lot to do with mentality. Guys are willing to do the work, and that comes down to Atlético culture. Some people say [we] sit back, sit back, but we're not conceding goals. We're doing better at getting the press up, and sometimes we're okay suffering a little bit." York's attack looked a little different in this game, with Portuguese winger Kevin Dos Santos playing on the left in place of Mateo Hernández. Santos tucked in on the left a lot and invited wingback Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio to overlap -- which was actually one of the brightest parts of York's game, with a few of their better chances coming from that side. Still, at the end of the day, the execution was missing once again. The first 15 minutes of the second half, they got into the attacking third a fair few times, but they seemed to run out of ideas once they got there with Ottawa defending so well and taking away any of the lanes they'd want to pass through.
Ottawa dangerous on the counter, attack quickly from turnoversAs they often are, Atlético Ottawa were very deliberate with their game plan entering this match. Playing in the well-organized 4-1-4-1 that's been so effective for them recently, they were able to defend in unison, shifting lines frequently to shut off the most dangerous spaces that York might look to play into. In possession, though, they came alive, with their hybrid back four shifting into more of a back three as Maxim Tissot drifted higher with Drew Beckie sliding over to cover the space behind him. On a number of occasions, especially in the first half, Ottawa were very quick to play long balls over the top from the back into high-drifting wingers -- usually Carl Haworth on the right side, but sometimes to Ballou Tabla on the left. They found a little more joy with those passes up the right, as Ollie Bassett repeatedly slid from midfield toward the touchline, interchanging with Haworth and allowing him to make himself more available. The speed with which Ottawa were able to run at York's backline was the driving force behind most of their best open-play chances. Tabla did well finding gaps behind York wingback Chrisnovic N'sa on the right, and Haworth often found the half-spaces with Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio playing very wide. For their second goal, Ottawa's entire possession sequence took just 13 seconds, from Miguel Acosta winning the ball to Brian Wright putting it in the net. That alone is a mark of how dangerous it can be to play sloppy passes through the middle against them. "I think that we are starting to feel comfortable in any phase of the game," González said of his team's performance. "I feel that today we were better in the four phases. In the organized attack, during the first half we had great moments. Of course in the recovery moment in this counter-attack, we found the spaces that we wanted to punish them. In some moments of the second half, especially in the first 15 minutes, we were very solid in the organized defence." Meanwhile, Martin Nash was far more sombre, feeling his side had somewhat played right into Ottawa's hands with the spots where they gave the ball away and the counter-attacks they allowed. Though two of the goals were penalties, Ottawa's entries into the penalty area came from transitional moments. "We talked about stopping them in transition, it was a big key for us. All three goals, especially the first two, were in transition; we switched off on the throw-in on the first one and then didn't clear our lines. And then the second one, we talked about not squeezing balls centrally; we played a bad pass centrally and their off on the go. It's frustrating when we don't do what we've trained and then give away some sloppy goals." York's next opponent, HFX Wanderers, are also happy to attack on the counter, so they'll need to shore things up in that regard quickly.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchDrew Beckie, Atlético Ottawa The captain's defensive work was a massive part of the clean-sheet effort for Ottawa, both on and off the ball. In possession, he made more passes than any of his teammates and did so with 94% accuracy, and his vocal leadership was key to the back four's organization as he often held space to allow the likes of Diego Espejo or Maxim Tissot to step out and press.
What’s next?For York, it'll be a trip out east next as they travel to take on HFX Wanderers FC in a bank holiday matinee on Monday, August 1 (3:00 p.m. AT/2:00 p.m. ET). Ottawa will head back home, as they welcome Forge to TD Place on Sunday, July 31 (7:00 p.m. 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.