2021 Canadian Championship -- Preliminary Round Valour FC vs. Atlético Ottawa August 21, 2021, at 7:00 pm ET TD Place, Ottawa, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here

An all-Canadian Premier League affair in the Canadian Championship looms Saturday when Valour FC heads east to our nation's capital to face Atlético Ottawa in a preliminary round tilt at TD Place. It will be Ottawa’s inaugural foray into the national championship as previously suspended coach Mista returns to the touchline in a tale between two teams heading in very different directions on the form table. Ottawa, who played their first and second home matches since being formed in early 2020 just this week, managed to grab a win and a draw over HFX Wanderers FC and York United respectively – a big improvement on their previous bottom-of-the-table path seen in league play. "Momentum is slowly starting to come our way," said goalkeeper Dylon Powley. "We’re just starting to come together – we've seen that a lot in the last couple games. It’s something we’re looking to build on... Playing in front of our fans from that opening game – 12,000 fans that believe in you – that let us believe in ourselves a little bit, too." At the other end is Rob Gale’s Valour side from Winnipeg – a club winless in six matches after sitting top of the league table following the Winnipeg-hosted opening season bubble. They've grabbed just one point and scored twice since a July 18 win over York. "The team has been playing better each game, it’s fair to say, and they just have to start eliminating little errors to be successful – hopefully that starts Saturday," Gale said before the match. The winner of Saturday’s one-legged tie will move on to play two-time CanPL champions Forge FC in the quarter-finals.


  • Valour thankful for breather ahead of Ottawa: For Rob Gale’s Valour side, they’ve comfortably taken the "road warriors" tite in recent weeks, going from a bubble to five-straight road matches. But their last time out was a first proper home match – a 2-0 loss to Pacific FC at IG Field – as Gale said the team felt "a bit more settled '' as they swapped hotels for homes if only for a few days – and grabbing their first proper off day in a while as well. "We managed to have a couple meetings as a group – you can feel the morale has gone up," Gale said. When asked if CanChamp play could serve as a reset for his side, Gale baulked, saying: "Recently, the key is getting through these games because we play again two days later (against FC Edmonton). It's still a grind – we’re looking at a war of attrition."​
  • Ottawa playing with confidence: It didn’t take long for Atlético Ottawa to feel the comforts of home themselves, as Mista’s side has now grabbed back-to-back results at TD Place. They are a different-looking side than the one Valour beat twice at The Kickoff; more confident, brash, and willing to get forward and create, combining for 37 shots through two matches – over half the amount they managed in the eight-game bubble. Midfielder Alberto Soto, who was named CanPL.ca Player of the Week, provided two goals and seven of the shots in those matches.​
  • Golden Voyageurs Cup opportunity: No cup competition is easy – let’s get that out of the way – but Valour and Ottawa are looking at, objectively, the most ideal path among 2021 CanChamp preliminary round entrants. Saturday’s winner will face Forge in the quarterfinal, missing a potential MLS opponent in CF Montreal, Toronto FC, or Vancouver Whitecaps in the process and guaranteeing a CanPL team in the semi-final stage. That’s an awfully nice incentive. Both sides are battling fitness concerns in a furious league campaign; Valour is still without Keven Aleman and Jose Galan while Ottawa remains without Brandon John for the season and Vashon Neufville.​


Valour FC wins: 3 | Atlético Ottawa wins: 0 | Draws: 0


"They have to be quality shots but it shows we’re trying to keep the ball and trying to play the way we know we need to to be successful," assistant coach Ajay Khabra said following the York match. "A lot of those chances were quality ones. We’re improving every game and that’s what matters to us." – Atlético Ottawa assistant coach Ajay Khabra

"This is a chance to give players who haven't had a bunch of minutes a go – Ottawa will have to rotate and prioritize a little bit too, as everybody does so you can't read too much into the potential team... This is an opportunity for a couple of lads to stake your claim on a first-team position." – Valour FC head coach Rob Gale

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