2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #95
Pacific FC vs. Atlético Ottawa
September 11, 2022 at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET
Starlight Stadium in Langford, BC
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here
In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.
For the first time this year, the defending champions, Pacific FC, find themselves outside of the league’s top four. Since winning three straight to start the season, and despite a few dips in form, the Tridents have lived above the line all season.
A 3-1 loss to York United at Starlight Stadium last weekend, coupled with a third straight victory for resurgent Valour FC, and Pacific now sit in fifth place. They are just one point out of the playoff spots, and do have a game in hand on all but one of the teams above them, but have now lost three straight matches in the CPL, scoring just once.
“Our motivation needs to be higher, we need to want to finish these games, we need to want to win these games,” said James Merriman of his side’s recent dip in form. “We need to understand that everybody is playing for something. Everyone is hungry, everyone wants to be in that top four.”
Aside from Valour, the other great disruptor to the Canadian Premier League hierarchy this season is Pacific’s opponent on Sunday, Atlético Ottawa. With five matches remaining in their season, the last place team in 2021 still sits at the top of the league table. They are currently on a run of four matches unbeaten and have not conceded in three straight, opening up a five-point gap on Pacific.
“They just dropped out of the playoffs, so I’m sure they are going to approach it like a big, big game, like a final,” said Atlético coach Carlos González of Sunday’s match. “So, the idea is to prepare the team mentally to approach these games in that way. That we have to equalize the intensity, we have to equalize in the concentration, we have to maintain the focus for the 95-96 minutes of the game. Because I feel that from now on the small details are going to be so important and are going to make the difference between staying in a playoff position or going down.”
Gonzalez had originally been suspended for this match after being shown a red card late in the side’s 0-0 draw with FC Edmonton last weekend. However, Atleti successfully appealed the suspension and Gonzalez will be on the sidelines on Sunday.
It has been either feast or famine for Ottawa offensively of late, as they have gone without a goal in three of their last five matches. The other two, however, saw them score three each against Cavalry and Halifax. Atleti will be looking to find more offensive consistency as the games increase in importance.
Meetings between the two sides have generally been quite tight this season, as Pacific has picked up a pair of 1-0 victories, while a late goal from Zach Verhoven saw Ottawa win 2-1 at home back on June 5.
Other than Manny Aparicio, who misses out through suspension, Merriman says Pacific has a full squad available for this match. Ottawa, meanwhile, is still missing Macdonald Niba and Malcolm Shaw for this match but otherwise, everyone else should be available.
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2022 CPL Final! To learn more about ComeOn!, click here.
All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980. Tous les matchs de l’Atlético Ottawa sont aussi disponibles en français sur OneSoccer.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Pacific looking for response after poor second half against York United: This isn’t the first time this season that Pacific has been soundly beaten at home. Back in late June, the Tridents were stunned 3-0 by HFX Wanderers at Starlight Stadium, their worst home loss in club history. Instead of allowing it to derail their season, however, they used that loss as a wake-up call that they followed up by going unbeaten in their next six CPL matches, including five straight wins. Merriman is looking for a similar response from his side on Sunday, knowing that they can’t afford many more slip-ups if they want to make the postseason. “That’s the most important thing we need to see and feel from that [York game],” he said. “We need to see that, we need to see a response. We need to see a strong mentality, a motivated group that really wants something. We have played in big matches this season and we have had highs and lows and it was a lot for the players to go through the last few weeks. But we have no excuses, we have been at home now for the past few weeks, we are prepared, we’ve recovered and it is time to play now.”
- Key midfielders missing for both sides: There is good news on the horizon for Pacific as Sunday’s match is the final of midfielder Manny Aparicio’s suspension. When Aparicio has started and played close to a full match this season, Pacific collected 25 points from 10 games. When he hasn’t, just 12 points from 12 games. Keeping the 26-year-old on the pitch down the stretch will be critical to the Tridents’ success. However, they won’t be the only side missing a key midfielder through suspension, as Atleti will be without Abdou Sissoko. The 32-year-old has quietly been one of the most important players to Ottawa’s rise this season due to his thankless work and consistency in midfield that has allowed players like Ollie Bassett to thrive. The absence of these two players will make for a fascinating battle in the centre of the park as other players will be called upon to step up in their places.
- Ottawa’s road to the playoffs: Sunday’s match will be the first of a four-game road trip for Atlético Ottawa, with only one remaining home game this season coming on the final day against York United. While this sounds like a daunting task, it actually suits Ottawa quite well. The road has been where they have been at their best all season, where the opponent is under pressure to dictate the tempo, and Ottawa can sit back, play patient football and wait for the hosts to make a mistake. They have only lost twice away from home all season, and have conceded only six times in 10 road matches. One of those losses, however, came at Starlight Stadium back on August 13. It remains the only venue in the Canadian Premier League at which Atleti has not picked up a victory, something they will undoubtedly want to change on Sunday.
Pacific wins: 4 || Ottawa wins: 2|| Draws: 1
August 13, 2022 — Pacific FC 1-0 Atlético Ottawa
“We need to also be more creative in the final third and more decisive in the final third and I’m going to challenge our attacking players to be more decisive on the ball and look to get a goal and be creative, and create scoring chances. To be a little bit more direct in those spaces. We know Ottawa will be organized, we know they will be prepared, we know it is going to be a bit match for both teams and we expect that.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman
“We expect a tight game. A game in which we should control the emotions, I think that the emotions are going to be very important for these last five games. So a game in which we want to improve the small details that we can improve from the last time that we played here” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González