There is something special happening in the nation's capital this Canadian Premier League season. This weekend, Atlético Ottawa defeated league-leaders, and defending CPL champions, Pacific FC 2-1 at home for their club-record third straight victory. After finishing their first two seasons as a club last and second-last in the table, under new coach Carlos González they currently sit second in the league, just a point behind Pacific with a game in hand. What exactly has been the catalyst for this meteoric rise to start the year? Ottawa has found success in an identity, a defensive compact system that gives up very few chances and is lethal on the counter-attack. But within that system, certain players have been allowed to thrive, perhaps none more so than midfielder Ollie Bassett. In Ottawa's new attacking blueprint, Bassett is the club's primary builder. His range of passing, creativity and elite level ball control combine to make him a threat anywhere on the field, whether he is starting attacks or finishing them. "He has a special talent with the ball," González told the CanPL.ca newsroom on Monday. "He is a player that when we are able to keep the ball gives many solutions to the team. With Ollie, we have built that position in which he feels comfortable with certain freedom but at the same time being organized and being committed with the team.”
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It hasn't just been about finding a position in which Bassett is comfortable, however, but also a consistent spot for him that has helped him succeed. "Last year I played I think at the start of the bubble kind of in a lot of different positions," said Bassett. "So playing like out wide and then as a six, as an eight and even as a ten sometimes. So it can be quite difficult sometimes to kind of get a rhythm to your game if you are constantly changing positions. But I think this year I’ve pretty much stuck to the same position which is just in the middle of the pitch as a midfielder." Lately, Ottawa has started playing with three central midfielders, which has allowed Bassett even more freedom to move forward and get higher up the pitch. Bassett has been enjoying that licence to operate. Opposing backlines? Not so much. While the midfielder's basic stat line, two goals and one assist, doesn't jump off the page, it is his ability to create chances that sets him apart from the rest of the league. In the Ottawa buildup, Bassett is often the player playing the pass before the pass that leads to a goal -- one that, while not recorded in the boxscore, remains just as important. Bassett is among the league leaders in chances created so far this season, with 14. Below is a small sampling of his recent work (he starts with the ball in all of these clips).
All clips courtesy of OneSoccer