Match Preview: Atlético Ottawa vs. Forge FC
May 26, 2023 – Canadian Premier League (CPL) – Atletico Ottawa News Release
May 26, 2023
Canadian Premier League
2023 CPL Regular Season – Match #25
Atlético Ottawa vs. Forge FC
May 27, 2023 at 2 p.m. ET
TD Place in Ottawa, Ontario
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available
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Atlético Ottawa will be out for a measure of revenge this weekend as Forge FC arrive in the nation’s capital for the first time since last October’s Canadian Premier League Final, which saw the visitors from Hamilton claim the championship with a 2-0 win.
This time around, Atleti will be keen to flip the script and beat Forge at TD Place for the first time in club history. In six visits to Ottawa, Forge have won five times and drawn once; in fact, Atleti have yet to score a goal against Forge on their own pitch.
Ottawa also come into this game looking for their first win at home in 2023, having lost their last match at TD Place by a heavy 4-1 scoreline to Pacific FC. Since then, though, they found some attacking mojo with a 5-0 win at Vancouver FC, although last Sunday saw Atleti drop a 2-0 result at Cavalry FC.
As it stands, Carlos González’s side are seventh in the league table with a 1-2-3 record and five points, though just one point back of the playoff positions.
Forge, meanwhile, turn their focus back to the league after bowing out of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday at the hands of CF Montréal. They actually beat Atlético Ottawa on penalties in the round prior to earn that meeting with an MLS side, in a close-fought quarter-final where Ollie Bassett’s last penalty equalizer sent them to spot kicks and it was Triston Henry’s goalkeeping heroics that ultimately put Forge through.
In CPL play, Bobby Smyrniotis’s team remains undefeated win three wins and three draws, putting them alone atop the table heading into matchweek seven. They were recently held to a 0-0 draw at Tim Hortons Field by Vancouver FC, in which they weren’t able to capitalize on a litany of chances, but the defending champions have yet to do anything but win away from home in the league this year.
Both sides enter Saturday’s battle with a relatively clean bill of health. Ottawa remain without goalkeeper Nathan Ingham, and González also officially ruled out defender Macdonald Niba after his injury last weekend, but other than that the squad is generally available. Forge, likewise, don’t have many fitness concerns, with Sebastian Castello remaining the only longer-term absence with his shoulder injury.
All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, FuboTV, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
Ottawa keen on improving home form: The last time Atlético Ottawa won a match at TD Place was Aug. 17, 2022 against Halifax Wanderers. Since then, they’ve settled for five draws and lost three (including the 2022 Final). Ottawa were excellent away from home last season, and their best performance so far this year was on the road too, but they’ll be desperate to give their raucous crowd something to celebrate. Last year, Atleti occasionally strayed from their well-organized defensive structure to try and open up a bit more at home, which perhaps contributed to their heavy 4-0 loss to Forge at TD Place. González will want them to stay grounded and not give up the fundamentals of their play, lest they lose control against a dangerous opponent. “It’s a great opportunity tomorrow to bounce back in the situation against a great opponent,” González said Friday. “On a great day with our fans behind, we should take advantage of this.”
Forge shift focus quickly from CanChamp loss: Forge’s first defeat of the 2023 season came at the hands of CF Montréal on Wednesday in a game where they handled the first half very well, but couldn’t hold off the MLS opponent in the second. It was a disappointing night for the club – particularly after defeats to Montréal the prior two years as well – but as Bobby Smyrniotis said after the game, the only thing they can do now is move on. Luckily for him, things are going very well for Forge in CPL play with the club still in first place. They’ve been perfect away from home so far with two 1-0 wins (at Pacific and York United), and now they go into a venue that’s treated them very kindly before. The quick turnaround from Wednesday may turn out to be a good thing for Forge, who have no time to brood on their defeat and must dust themselves off quickly.
Ottawa looking for right strike combo: Last week’s loss to Cavalry was the first time this season Ottawa have had both Malcolm Shaw and Samuel Salter in the starting XI. The two centre-forwards had rotated in the number nine spot previously, but getting both together on the pitch was something González wanted to try. It didn’t necessarily go to plan for Atleti in that game, with Cavalry’s strong defensive unit keeping both players without a shot, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see that option explored again. The combination that produced Ottawa’s big 5-0 win over Vancouver had Salter flanked by wingers Jean-Aniel Assi and Gianni Dos Santos, which is a trio González has used three times (for a 1-1-1 record) so that may indeed be his preferred setup, but above all Ottawa will hope to get both Salter and Shaw into a patch of good scoring form – easier said than done against Forge. “Throughout preseason we tried many formulas and different situations in the attack,” González said. “We have depth in our attack so we have to try to put the best people we think for each game. It’s about the game plan, about how the other team defends and what we try to do to adjust our attack.”
PROJECTED STARTING XIs
Atlético Ottawa: Melvin; Ouimette, Espejo, Singh, Tissot; Bassett, Acosta, Verhoeven; Assi, Shaw, Dos Santos
Forge FC: Henry; Rama, Achinioti-Jönsson, James, Poku; Bekker, Hojabrpour, Sissoko; Borges, Hamilton, Choinière
Atlético Ottawa wins: 1 || Forge FC wins: 9 || Draws: 2
October 30, 2022 – Atlético Ottawa 0-2 Forge FC
“Every time you play against Forge there’s an extra motivation. We work each day to try to be at the level of the best team of the region, and Forge is one of those so it’s always good to measure our level against them and we always have a great motivation to do the best, to play our game and to try to beat them.” – Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González
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