2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #54 Atlético Ottawa vs. Cavalry FC July 9, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. MT/7:00 p.m. ET TD Place in Ottawa, ON Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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It’s a throwback to the first matchday of the season this weekend, as Atlético Ottawa hosts Cavalry FC in CPL action on Saturday. In a rematch of both teams' first game of this 2022 campaign, a 1-0 Ottawa win over Cavalry at TD Place on April 9th, they’re now fittingly getting set to run it back at the same place exactly three months later this Saturday, which only happens to be July 9th.
Returning to April 9th, however, it’s worth using it as a benchmark, as both teams have undergone a lot of changes since then, both in terms of their form, as well as their team selection.

To begin, there are the hosts, Ottawa, who have been a big surprise this year, vaulting up the standings thanks to some cohesive play. It hasn’t always been exciting, as they’ve scored just 14 goals in 13 games, but thanks to a very solid defensive unit, one that has conceded just 13 goals, they’ve been able to pick up an impressive record of seven wins, three draws and three losses. As a result, they enter this game in second place in the CPL table, tied with first-place with 24 points, currently riding a positive wave of form that has seen them nab five wins in their last seven games. Therefore, that means this game is a great chance for Ottawa to make some progress, allowing them to continue their strong run by potentially climbing into first place, depending on how it goes. “We are (excited),” Ottawa head coach, Carlos González, said. “The message to the team is to approach every game like a final, so we are approaching it the same way that we approach every other game this season, this is a very important game, not only because we play against Cavalry, the leaders of the CPL, but the more important thing is to continue the with the good feelings the team is having.”

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Yet, while Ottawa remains in good form, Cavalry is in arguably even better form, currently riding a nine-game undefeated run, one that has them tied in first-place in Ottawa, with a game in hand on them. Currently leading the league in goals with 23, while only conceding 14, they’ve been an airtight unit at both ends, leading to their recent run of form. Having picked up 23 out of their last 27 available points, Cavalry hasn’t slipped up much lately, becoming the team to beat in the CPL right now, especially for those who are looking to prove their credentials. “We’ve just got this mentality that we refuse to lose,” Cavalry head coach, Tommy Wheeldon Jr., said of his team’s form. Which, for Ottawa, shows why this game is so key for them. Having beaten Cavalry once already this year, this is a chance to prove that it was no fluke, especially given how good Cavalry has been lately, and how hungry they’ll be after that result. Coming off statement road wins against the Halifax Wanderers and Forge FC, Ottawa can really stamp out any doubt of their ability as a club in this game, showing that they too are a team to beat in this league. Of course, that won’t change no matter what happens, but in terms of perception, it certainly doesn’t hurt to pick up a win of this calibre, something that González’s side will be well aware of heading into this game.

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  • New-look formations change fortunes of both Ottawa, Cavalry: Interestingly, since they last met, one area has changed drastically for both sides, in particular - their preferred formations, as they’ve both adjusted the tactical set-ups they started the year with. Of course, that’s not that unexpected, as formations get tweaked all the time by coaches, but it is interesting given the form that both of these teams are in, showing how important these tweaks have been. For Ottawa, it’s been a simple tweak, as they’ve gone from more of a 4-4-2 to a 4-1-4-1, one that can also turn into a three at the back formation if needed. Through that, they’ve been able to keep the defensive solidity that they’ve liked to have, but add in a bit of offensive punch, especially in transition, where they’ve been extra dangerous. “They’re very tactically versatile,” said Wheeldon Jr of his upcoming adversaries. “You can see they build out in a back three with Acosta dropping low to make a flat three, and Maxim Tissot pushing high, so their formation is fluid, and I think they're just another great example of you seeing that across the league where formations are only what you put out as you starting 11.” Meanwhile, with Cavalry, they’ve gone from their famed back three to more of a 4-2-3-1, giving them good width while not sacrificing the control that they like to have in the middle. Plus, that formation has made them more versatile, able to control play in different areas of the field, comfortable with both holding possession and playing without the ball. “Tactically, they have grown,” González said. “It’s going to be a tougher game to play, they have a really good dynamic.” Because of those tweaks, that should lead to a very different matchup to that April 9th one, making it a fun one to keep an eye on.
  • Will Ottawa be able to maintain strong defensive posture? As mentioned earlier, Ottawa has been tough to beat defensively this year, conceding more than one goal in a game just twice. Plus, they’ve seemed to take an even bigger step forward as of late, too, keeping four clean sheets in their last six games, becoming a tough team to break down on a daily basis. Because of that, maintaining that form is going to have to be a priority against Cavalry. Knowing how Cavalry will want to break them down, they’re going to need big nights from their back four of Maxim Tissot, Drew Beckie, Diego Espejo and Miguel Acosta, as well as goalkeeper Nathan Ingham. Along with the pressure that their midfielders and attackers will look to apply up the pitch, they’re going to have to be inch-perfect in their play, because if not, goals could leak, at least if Cavalry have anything to say about it. But given Ottawa’s recent defensive form, you’d certainly back them in their efforts, especially at home, so look for them to keep that side of their game rolling, allowing them to grab what would be a monumental victory. “It’s the commitment of our players,” González said of his team’s defensive solidity. “The players are putting in a real effort to defend as a team, and are running for their teammates, putting in the teamwork, I think that’s a key point. Of course, we’re doing adaptations for each game in our structure of how to defend depending on who we play against, but I feel that the key point is the mentality and effort of the team.”
  • Can Pepple’s purple patch persist? On the other side, that’ll leave Cavalry to want to break down Ottawa, and one such name to watch in that quest? Aribim Pepple, who heading into this game, remains in red-hot form, having scored in five consecutive games, scoring six goals over that span to launch himself into second in league scoring. No matter who he’s playing against these days, he’s scoring, so he’ll have every reason to want to keep that up in this game, especially against an Ottawa side that makes it so hard to score. Especially with no Joe Mason and Myer Bevan in the squad as they deal with injuries, Pepple is going to be the main man up front in this one, giving him added pressure that he hasn’t faced in recent weeks, before he had gone on this run. Given his latest form, you’d imagine that won’t trouble him, but it’s a big challenge for the youngster, one that it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to. For what it’s worth, his manager backs him in that quest, so it’ll be intriguing to see if he can rise up to that opportunity now. “Yeah, I think he's had to replace his boots every week because they've been on flames,” Wheeldon Jr joked. “The kid is just (rolling), everything he hits seems to go in, it doesn't matter if it's off his knee, off his foot, or off his head, it just finds the back of the net.”


Atlético Ottawa wins: 4 || Cavalry FC wins: 1 || Draws: 0

Previous match:

April 9th, 2022 – Atlético Ottawa 1-0 Cavalry FC


“Yeah, it’s going to be important, because, at the end of the day, we’re going to play against one of the strongest teams in the CPL. So it’s another game where we can improve how we are, so it’s important because of that, but the reality is that this is 3 points that we have to play for, just like every other game, and we’ve only just arrived at the halfway point of the season.” -- Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González.

“It’s a meaningful game, I think when you have a winning record as we do, you're going to be competing against others that are trying to do the same thing. So we enjoy it. Like every other game for us, this is just another good game in preparation for the playoffs.” -- Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

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