Final Score: York United 2-2 Atlético Ottawa Goalscorers: De Rosario 64' (PK), Zator 90+5'; Wright 51', Tabla 86' Game of the 2022 season: 14 CPL match: 265

Match in a minute or less

York United saved a point for themselves in almost the last moment of the match against Atlético Ottawa on Friday, as Dominick Zator's 95th-minute equalizer was enough to secure a 2-2 result at home after Ballou Tabla appeared to have won it for the visitors in the 86th minute. Brian Wright had put Ottawa ahead early in the second half with a quick goal in transition, but Osaze De Rosario levelled the score in the 64th minute from a penalty spot, putting the two sides on even footing from an entertaining back-and-forth clash.

Three Observations

Ottawa punish with quick transitional strikes​

Atlético Ottawa demonstrated on Friday that they're a team that opponents can ill afford to make mistakes against. They did well in this game to punish momentary lapses and make use of their opportunities -- they had just six shots, three of them on target, but their two best opportunities were placed clinically in the back of the net. Their first goal was a product of quick thinking and forward momentum; a clever ball right through the middle of the pitch from Ollie Bassett found Zach Verhoven, who laid it off instantly for Brian Wright for a good finish. The whole sequence saw the ball travel from near the centre line to the back of the net within five seconds -- blink and you'd miss it. Tabla's goal, of course, was the product of a deep goal kick from Nathan Ingham, which ultimately found its way to Diyaeddine Abzi, and Tabla was quick enough to spot the poor back pass and bury it -- this time, 10 seconds from the dead-ball goal kick to the back of the net. Ottawa were stout defensively for the most part, even after their starting centre-back Diego Espejo had to be replaced by Abdou Sissoko early on. Their well-organized defensive line, which functioned mostly as a back four when Maxim Tissot dropped back on the left (though it looked more like a three when Ottawa were in possession), managed to keep York mostly to the outside. "You could see they were sitting back, they were waiting for their one chance, and it's hoping that we make a mistake," York defender Dominick Zator said postmatch. "To be honest they had, what, two chances? And they finished both of them." Carlos González certainly felt that his side had done enough to win the game -- and indeed, he was irate at the lead-up to Zator's late goal, with an apparent foul in the box on that play plus the throw-in shortly before that free kick, which was perhaps wrongly awarded to York rather than Ottawa. Still, he'll be pleased to see his team so ruthless and quick with their limited attacking chances.

Stop/start first half gives way to more free-flowing second frame with adjustments​

This contest was, to use a tired cliché, a tale of two halves. The opening 45 minutes were disjointed; both sides struggled to connect passes, especially in the final third (both teams' pass accuracy in the attacking third was less than 65% in the first half). Neither team was quite able to get into a rhythm, in part because of the broken tempo of the game. Atlético Ottawa boss Carlos González pointed out that a number of extended pauses in the first half hindered both teams' ability to grow into the match. Early injuries to Diego Espejo and Oliver Minatel certainly threw a wrench in both managers' plans, but the breaks for treatment also broke up the flow of the match. Ottawa had to change further at halftime, with Ben McKendry moving to right-back as Miguel Acosta (who crashed into Espejo on the same play that put the latter out of the game) also had to be removed, and Chris Mannella came into midfield. "This made it a little bit that everything was very cold," González said postmatch. "For the players, we started to realize that we wanted to win the game more in the second half. I think the first half was a weird first half, weird 45 minutes, so we started to play a game of 45 minutes in the second half when both teams started to show what they wanted to do." Eventually, though, the game did indeed open up, as both sides game into the second half with a different kind of vigour. After a first frame that saw 0.3 expected goals across both sides, the latter 45 produced a combined 1.95 (helped, of course, by the highly-valued penalty kick). In fact, Martin Nash suggested it may have opened up too much for York's purposes, being the team that had a slight upper hand in the earlier stages and looking to control the ball. "The match was waiting to break open a little bit," Nash said. "They're very organized, they sit in a deep block, they don't let you inside very easily, so you have to go over or around them. We weren't having too much joy; we tried a couple different things, we started creating chances near the end but then we were opening up a bit too much for my liking and they were able to catch us on the counter." Still, the more back-and-forth second half made it a far more entertaining encounter for the neutrals.

York unveil menacing triple-threat up front late with three strikers​

With the attacking depth that York have assembled this year, the question of how Martin Nash can actually use it all is one worth asking. In particular, he now has three strikers at his disposal -- Osaze De Rosario, Lowell Wright, and Austin Ricci -- who can each offer different threats as an out-and-out number nine. In this game, Nash started De Rosario in the middle -- and he was rewarded for it with De Rosario's goal from the penalty spot -- but by the end of the match, all three strikers were on the pitch. Wright and De Rosario both took a turn playing on the right wing in that new front three, with Ricci primarily playing on the left, but all of them, as natural centre-forwards, were happy to cut inside to try and get into the box. Nash has already explained that the plan for Ricci, in particular, is to ease him in after he missed so much time recovering from a knee injury suffered last season, but eventually there will come a point where all three players are fully fit to start -- but they still can't all make the XI, especially with the likes of Max Ferrari and Oliver Minatel so important to York's wing play. Still, the fact that the triple threat is an option late in games when York is chasing a goal will be encouraging. Wright nearly created a go-ahead goal for the hosts within minutes of coming on with a cutback pass to Isaiah Johnston, looking bright throughout his entire outing. "It's really important because you can do a lot of different things late in the game," Nash explained. "Playing all three of them, two of them were playing as wingers, which they have the ability to do. It did help, it gave us another dimension -- Austin with his power and pace, he can drive; Osaze is nifty, and they can all dribble and create in their own way as well. It adds another dimension and it's difficult for defenders with all three of them; they're big, strong and powerful." Wright and De Rosario showed very promising moments of link-up play from the right side, which will be particularly useful for York until Ferrari is fully healthy to play on that side as well. Player of the Match

Ballou Tabla, Atlético Ottawa The highly-touted attacker looked more comfortable than ever for Ottawa, making a number of sizzling runs into the middle of the pitch from the right side. He led his team in duels won (9) and won possession eight times, and he was rewarded for good direct play with his late goal.

What’s next?

Up next for the Nine Stripes is the first 905 Derby of the season, as they take on Forge FC at home next Friday, May 6 (7 p.m. ET). Atlético Ottawa, meanwhile, will return to the capital to host Pacific FC on Saturday, May 7 (6 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.

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