2021 CPL regular season — Match #48 Atlético Ottawa vs. York United August 18, 2021 at 7 pm ET TD Place Stadium, Ottawa, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here
After a historic start to life at home in TD Place, Atlético Ottawa play hosts for the second straight match as they welcome York United to the nation's capital on Wednesday evening.
Ottawa had to wait nearly a year and a half for their first home game but refused to let their supporters leave unsatisfied on Saturday as they beat HFX Wanderers 2-1 thanks to a late winner from Brian Wright.
While Mista was allowed to postpone his suspension for the occasion, Ajay Khabra will assume head coaching duties for Wednesday's contest — a game where he hopes they can recreate the atmosphere from this past weekend.
"It was amazing to have the fans back and kind of have some normalcy and we definitely benefitted from it," Khabra told the media on Tuesday. "The team is really looking forward to it (Wednesday) and personally, it's going to be a challenging game but I'm really looking forward to it."
York has enjoyed eleven days rest since their last outing and like Ottawa, they come into this match fresh off a win over Halifax — The Nine Stripes result a 3-2 victory away at Wanderers Grounds.
Before that, it was a brave 1-0 win against Forge at Tim Hortons Field for Jimmy Brennan's side back on August 4 and while the extra time off between games was welcomed, the opportunity to continue to build on their winning streak on Wednesday is a priority for York: "You'd love to have that game right away but at the same time it was good for us to get a deserved break seeing as we've played a lot... The guys will be looking to keep that momentum now going into Ottawa."
These two teams have faced on just one prior occasion — a 2-2 draw during last year's Island Games. After going up 2-0 through first-half goals from Mohamed Kourouma and Malcolm Shaw, Vashon Neufville was sent off for Ottawa thanks to a second caution in the 50th minute. York would claw back to salvage a point as Lowell Wright and Joe Di Chiara got on the scoresheet.
Currently sitting five points behind the Nine Stripes in the league table and chasing a playoff position, Ottleti will hope any potential early leads hold strong while Brennan and Co. look to play spoiler in searching for their third straight win on the road.
3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- Win over HFX start of a streak or anomaly for Atlético? The prolonged anticipation ahead of the home opener in Ottawa made the pressure of occasion that much greater. A positive result had real potential to be a turning point in the season for the side sitting in last place in the table. Now with a few days to dwell on the emotions, Khabra suggested his group continues to take things game by game but the 'character' the team demonstrated in coming from behind on Saturday was a clear building block moving forward: "It was a test for us and we came out on top, we played the way we wanted to play and we executed it very well... it's motivation where if we execute and do the things we need to do on matchday, we will be successful."
- Freshness could favour York: After playing three times in an eight-day span between July 30 and August 7, York embraced the eleven days off with open arms — particularly with numerous players either carrying knocks or simply experiencing a minutes overload of late due to the congested fixture list. For Nathan Ingham, Roger Thompson, Ijah Halley, Jordan Faria, and Terique Mohammed, the time off looks as though it will still be too soon to be available for selection while Isaiah Johnston will miss out through yellow accumulation. Despite the list of names still lacking full fitness, Brennan suggested the health of the squad travelling to Ottawa have benefitted from the gap in games. For a team already known for their youth and workrate, Ottawa will need to try and replicate the intensity they showed against Halifax just four days prior.
- Ottawa look to continue thriving on home support?: Ottawa has continuously added new faces into their team as the season progresses and while the talent in some of the more recent additions is clear, the cohesion on the pitch has been a work in progress down the stretch. While the time to get accustomed with one another was part of the reason why they were able to find a result on Saturday, the backing of the fans can't be dismissed either according to Khabra: "We really felt the energy and of course it gives you a boost as a player, especially after not experiencing it for such a long period of time." Although it maybe unfair to anticipate the stands to be as loud as they were this past weekend again on Wednesday night — a crowd topped in size only by the league's inaugural match in 2019 — the potential for TD Place to be a place of strength for Atlético continues midweek.
Atlético Ottawa wins: 0 || York United wins: 0 || Draws: 1
August 15, 2020 — Atlético Ottawa 2-2 York United
"They have a young talented squad and with young players, the best way to go is to allow them to express themselves and play free of pressure... That's how they play and so far it's benefitted them." — Atlético Ottawa assistant coach Ajay Khabra
"They had a good result the other day against Halifax... they were playing a lot different than they did in the bubble, so I expect it to be a competitive match." — York United head coach Jimmy Brennan