Atletico Ottawa hopes to cap worst-to-first season in CPL playoffs

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Atletico Ottawa continues its worst-to-first season Saturday with its first go to to the Canadian Premier League playoffs, taking up defending champion Pacific FC on Vancouver Island in semifinal play.

Last in the eight-team league at 6-14-8 in 2021, Ottawa topped the standings this yr beneath new supervisor Carlos Gonzalez.

“We are step-by-step making historical past right here,” the Spaniard mentioned Friday.

Gonzalez’s message going into the playoffs is easy. Forget the common season.

“We know that everyone is pleased with the work the workforce is doing. But you already know in soccer there isn’t any recollection,” he mentioned. “We have to look ahead. Nobody will keep in mind what we have achieved if we do not proceed doing issues in the suitable approach.”

The semifinals are two-legged affairs.

No. 4 Pacific FC (13-8-7, 46 factors) hosts No. 1 Atletico Ottawa (13-5-10, 49 factors) at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., whereas No. 3 Cavalry (14-9-5, 47 factors) entertains No. 2 Forge FC (14-9-5, 47 factors) at ATCO Field.

The return legs are Oct. 23 in Ottawa and Hamilton.

Ottawa goes into the playoffs unbeaten in 9 matches (4-0-5) since a 1-0 loss Aug. 13 at Pacific. It was 1-2-1 towards Pacific this season with every of the three choices determined by one objective. They tied 1-1 the final time they met, Sept. 11 at Starlight Stadium.

‘It’s why we play the sport’

For Pacific, Saturday marks its first-ever dwelling playoff recreation. The semifinals had been one-offs final season and Pacific posted wins in Calgary and Hamilton en route to the title.

“To play in huge vital video games, it is why we play the sport,” mentioned Pacific attacking midfielder Josh Heard. “To find a way to do it at dwelling, it is incredible.”


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Pacific misplaced its regular-season finale 1-0 at Cavalry, snapping a five-game unbeaten run (3-0-2). Pacific has expertise in two-legged sequence from its CONCACAF League run this yr, dispatching Jamaica’s Waterhouse 6-0 on mixture earlier than shedding to Costa Rica’s Herediano.

Pacific forwards Gianni dos Santos, a Cape Verde worldwide, and Djenairo Daniels, a Dutch youth worldwide, had been “day-to-day,” coach James Merriman mentioned Friday.

Gonzalez, in the meantime, mentioned defenders Macdonald Ngwa Niba and Ivan Perez are making progress from their accidents however will not be prepared Saturday.

Rivalry renewed

Forge and Cavalry have historical past, having met in the 2019 league remaining gained by Forge. It’s additionally a matchup of the one two remaining coaches from the league’s 2019 debut — Forge’s Bobby Smyrniotis and Cavalry’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

Forge was 2-1-1 towards Cavalry this season, profitable 2-1 final outing Sept. 10 in Hamilton.

The Hamilton-based facet closed out the common season with a 1-0 victory over HFX Wanderers however had gained simply two of 10 matches (2-5-3) earlier than that.

Despite a rash of accidents in the again, Forge conceded a league-low 25 targets through the 28-game common season.

Defender Daniel Krutzen, who missed many of the season recovering from a knee harm suffered final November in CONCACAF League play, is not going to be obtainable for Forge on Saturday.

Trusty ‘keeper

Defensive midfielder Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson moved into the Forge backline to fill the void at centre again, with assistant coach David Edgar — a former Canadian worldwide defender — serving to him adapt to the place.

“He’s been completely glorious in his position there. Every two, three weeks he is obtained a distinct companion taking part in with him,” Smyrniotis mentioned of Achinioti-Jonsson.

Forge has additionally been ready to rely on goalkeeper Triston Henry who tied Cavalry’s Marco Carducci for the league in shutouts with 10. Despite that, Henry didn’t make the checklist of three finalists for the league’s Golden Glove award.

“For me, he is undoubtedly the highest goalkeeper in this league,” mentioned Smyrniotis.

The championship recreation can be performed both Oct. 29 or 30 on the dwelling of the very best remaining seed, with Ottawa, Forge and Cavalry all doable hosts.

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