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Atlético Ottawa loses despite dominating Pacific FC

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Despite a dominant performance, Atlético Ottawa were punished for a lack of clinical finishing with a 1-0 Canadian Premier League loss to Pacific FC at TD Place Sunday.

It’s only Atlético Ottawa’s third loss in all competitions this season, two of which have come at the hands of Pacific. The other loss was the second leg of the Canadian Championship quarterfinal, where Pacific won 2-1 in May.

Despite the loss, Ottawa remain in first place in the Canadian Premier League, with a record of 7-4-2 (25 points). But their lead atop the table shrinks from eight points to five.

Gonzalez commends Pacific FC

Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez thought Pacific executed their defensive game plan to perfection and recognized his club perhaps didn’t do enough to earn anything from Sunday’s encounter.

“I think they’ve done what they came to do,” said Gonvalez after the match.” They came to defend, (and) have one or two chances and be ruthless in those moments. They were, and we weren’t able to score in many situations that we created.

“We have to be ruthless in those types of situations because we start to see the pattern that teams (use when they) come to play at TD Place. We have to work on (being more clinical).”

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Ottawa defender Kris Twardek was blunt describing his and the team’s emotions post-game.

“I think if you asked any of us today, they’d give you the same answer,” said Twardek. “Frustrated, disappointed, it feels self-induced, I mean, they basically scored on our way into the dressing room. It couldn’t have been later into the half. We were in control of the game, but we missed countless chances and the cherry on top is the penalty at the end. It’s a frustrating result.”

With the win, Pacific leapfrogs Forge FC and sits in fourth place in the CPL standings, with a 5-4-4 record (19 points), only one point behind second place York United.

Atlético Ottawa dominate early but can’t find breakthrough

Atlético controlled the game from start to finish, had nearly 60 percent of the possession, and outshot Pacific FC 22-6 (5-2 on target). Ottawa turned up a notch after going 1-0 down, outshooting Pacific 15-3 in the second half alone. Ottawa had 12 shots from inside the box to Pacific’s one, created more dangerous scoring opportunities, and handily won the expected goals (xG) battle 2.49 to 0.37.

However, one lapse in concentration, a small defensive mistake at the very end of first-half stoppage time by Ottawa’s defense led to a Pacific FC transition attack that culminated in ex. Atlético midfielder Zakaria Bahous striking the ball into the bottom left corner of the net from outside the box past Ottawa goalkeeper Rayane Yesli to give Pacific a 1-0 lead on the road.

“Pacific’s goal came off a moment of disconnect, a lapse in focus,” Gonzalez said. “We switched off, thinking it was under control. By the time we realized the danger, it was already too late.”

PAcific Fc, Atletico Ottawa, Canadian Premier League

Atlético Ottawa lose 1-1 to Pacific FC in Canadian Premier League action Sunday, July 7, 2024.
Photo: Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

Ottawa was less than 30 seconds from going to the locker room in a scoreless game.

“If this game is 0-0 at halftime, I’m confident we find a way to win the game,” Twardek said. “We need to finish the chances we create more effectively next Friday against Vancouver FC.”

Pacific, the best defensive team in the CPL, conceding only 10 goals in 13 matches all season would not relinquish their lead in the second half, thanks to a phenomenal defensive effort, being organized and compact enough to withstand an all-out offensive barrage from Ottawa.

As a result, Ottawa’s players, coaches and fans leave TD Place disappointed, wondering what could’ve been had they taken advantage of the countless scoring opportunities they created.

“Ultimately I don’t think we can say that we didn’t create chances today because we did,” Twardek said. “On another day, maybe there’s four or five goals there to be honest.”

Ollie Bassett penalty miss sums up Ottawa’s day

Ottawa threatened to score multiple times in the second half but couldn’t capitalize. In the 58th minute, Manny Aparicio snuck a shot under Pacific goalkeeper Emil Gazdov’s arm which trickled toward the goalline. Atlético Ottawa players thought they had leveled the match, but the referee determined that Cédric Toussaint’s lunging clearance was enough to prevent the ball from fully crossing the line.

A few minutes later, Ruben del Campo –tied for second most goals in the league with six– forced Gazdov to make an incredible save with a curling shot toward the top corner. Then, Sam Salter’s header off a cross by Ballou Tabla beat Gazdov, but not the cross bar.

In the second half stoppage time, Matteo de Brienne won a penalty for Ottawa as his shot struck the arm of a Pacific defender.

Ollie Bassett, who had only missed one of 12 penalties in his CPL career prior to this match, –interestingly also against Gazdov in a 1-1 draw with Pacific on September 13, 2023– skied this penalty over the bar. Nearly 6,000 Atlético fans looked onwards, stunned.

Ottawa created a few more chances, but to no avail, as Pacific’s defense held on to secure an important win.

Up next, Ottawa fly to BC to play Vancouver FC on July 12. Pacific host MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship semifinal first leg on July 10.

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About Author

Adamo Marinelli is a multimedia freelance journalist who specializes in sports reporting. His writing, editing, and multimedia work has appeared in Total Soccer News, The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, The Hockey News, The Canadian Baseball Network, 49 Sports, Ottawa Sports Pages, Capital Current, 613 Sports, and The Charlatan.

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