2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #20 Atlético Ottawa vs. Pacific FC May 7, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT TD Place Stadium Ottawa, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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On Friday, TD Place Stadium will play host to the top two teams in the Canadian Premier League standings, but certainly not the top two clubs in terms of form. Neither league-leaders Pacific FC nor second-place Atlético Ottawa has won in their last two matches, picking up a single point each. Ottawa is coming off a week where they delivered a resilient performance against York United on the road, only to squander the win during stoppage time on a controversial goal. Pacific, meanwhile, went behind less than two minutes into Cavalry FC's home opener and suffered their first loss of the season. Pacific started the season absolutely flying, winning their first three matches at Starlight stadium in dominant fashion. A trip to Alberta, however, changed that as they went scoreless last week against FC Edmonton and Cavalry FC. It is the next challenge that the defending champions have to overcome, bringing that home form and identity when they travel. Dating back to last year, Pacific has picked up just a single win in their last nine regular-season away dates. Under new coach Carlos González, meanwhile, Atlético Ottawa has been forming an identity of its own and the rest of the league has taken notice. Being a member of the Atlético family, it is no surprise that this centres around being defensively resilient and well-organized. "I think they are quite organized defensively, they are very compact and they can make it difficult to break down," said Pacific FC coach James Merriman. "They are good and effective in attacking transition, that's what I've seen from them so far. But again, it is very early in the season and they have had different performances in every match as well, and here's another match". While a lopsided 6-1 loss to Valour has thrown off most of their defensive metrics, Ottawa kept clean sheets in their first two matches of the season. They only had three clean sheets all of last season and allowed the most goals against in the league in 2021, so this has already been a big improvement. A number of defensive signings have helped in this regard. Macdonald Niba was named to the Canadian Premier League team of the week after a stellar performance against York. New goalkeeper signing Nathan Ingham, meanwhile, leads the league in clean sheets (two) and has made 13 saves so far this season. This match marks the first time that Pacific FC has visited the nation's capital for a match. Previous meetings between the two clubs have taken place in the P.E.I and Manitoba bubbles, as well as a meeting at Starlight Stadium last year. Ottawa has only won one of those four meetings.

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  • Ballou Tabla rounding into form: One of the most exciting signings of the Canadian Premier League offseason, Ballou Tabla scored his first goal this past weekend against York United. The Atlético Ottawa attacker has shown flashes of brilliance in each of his appearances so far this season, but York was certainly his most complete performance in all areas of the pitch. He contested 19 duals, won possession eight times, and won four fouls. Opponents have clearly taken notice of how much talent and potential Tabla possesses, as he is the most fouled player in the league with fourteen fouls won so far this season.
  • Pacific needs to add purpose to possession: One aspect of Pacific FC's identity that has translated onto the road has been how much they have been able to hold onto the ball. They had 70.9% of the ball against FC Edmonton, and despite losing 2-0 to Cavalry, had 61.4% of possession in that match as well. But as has been proven time and time again in this sport, it isn't how much of the ball you have, it is what you do with that possession. After creating 12 big chances through their first three matches of the season, they only managed two in Alberta, both of which came against Edmonton. In fact, their possession-first mentality even caused issues defensively, as both Cavalry goals, last weekend came from Pacific defenders being dispossessed. "We want to continue to build on what we did the first three-four matches and be more direct, more ruthless and try to be more clinical in taking our chances and continue to create chances in the final third," said Merriman. "That's something that we spoke about as a group and we are looking for a reaction and we are focused on ourselves right now".
  • Capital returns for several players: While, as aforementioned, this is the first time Pacific as a club has visited the nation's capital, TD Place Stadium will be familiar for several players. Captain Jamar Dixon, as well as Callum Irving and Thomas Meilleure-Giguère, all spent multiple years with the Ottawa Fury franchise and Ottawa is Dixon's hometown. "I just think it is nice for them, this was their home for two-three seasons, living here, training here, playing here," said Merriman. "It is nice for them to be here, but they are obviously representing us and they are here with Pacific. So it is nice from them to be back but they are prepared for the match." Meilleure-Giguère missed out on this past weekend's match due to injury, but Merriman said this was mostly just precautionary early in the season and he will be available for Saturday's match. Kunle Dada-Luke could also make his return as Merriman confirmed he too is fit and available. On the Ottawa side of things, Drew Beckie has served his suspension and will be available for Carlos González this weekend.


Atlético Ottawa: 1 || Pacific FC: 2 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

September 19, 2021 — Pacific FC 1-1 Atlético Ottawa


“We are ambitious, we have to forget about last season because the reality is that we are in this season, in a new season, with a new squad, with a new staff, with a new everything. So I think that thinking too much about last season is losing time.” -- Atlético Ottawa Head Coach Carlos González

“I think [Ottawa] have made some good signings in the offseason and they had a good start to this season. They brought in a new coach as well and they seem organized, they seem well prepared and they've improved for sure from their last season.” -- Pacific FC Head Coach James Merriman

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