2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #48
HFX Wanderers vs. Atlético Ottawa
June 30, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. AT/6:30 p.m. ET
Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Atlético Ottawa visits Wanderers Ground for the first time this season on Thursday night, looking for a first-ever win in Halifax.
They managed a draw in their final match of the season last year in Nova Scotia, but otherwise haven’t had much luck on the grass of Wanderers Ground, losing both other visits to Halifax by a score of 2-1. In fact, they haven’t had much luck on grass in general, as Atleti have yet to win a Canadian Premier League game on a grass surface.
But it has been a season of firsts for Carlos González’s group, who seem to take every opportunity they can to rewrite the club’s, albeit short, history books. They currently sit third place in the table, just a point behind second-place Pacific FC with a pair of games in hand.
And home field hasn’t quite been what it was in the past for Halifax so far in 2022. Heading into this year, they had only ever lost four matches at Wanderers Ground in CPL action, but have already lost three times at home in all competitions this season. That includes a pair of lopsided losses to Forge, 3-0 in their last home game and 4-0 back on May 20.
Getting back to the kind of play that has made Wanderers Ground a fortress will be critical for Halifax down the stretch. They sit just outside of the playoffs at the moment, a single point behind Ottawa going into this match (although the visitors do have a game in hand). They play nine times at home in their remaining 16 matches.
“It is very important,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart of regaining their consistency at home. “The players know that, I really don’t have to remind them of that. As I say to them the better players make the least mistakes and we have to be in a situation of total concentration.”
The hosts will be coming into this game with their heads held high after the first-ever three-goal win in club history, defeating Pacific 3-0 at Starlight Stadium. But at this stage in the season, the Wanderers know that they need to build on that performance for it to have any lasting impact. They have yet to win back-to-back games this season.
For Ottawa, they haven’t scored in back-to-back games, breaking up an unbeaten streak after going a full month without a loss. They come into this match with plenty of rest, having not played since a 1-0 loss to FC Edmonton on Sunday, June 19. With that in mind, González mentioned how critical it is that they start the match in the right way.
“It is so important the mentality that we [bring] to the game,” he said. “I think it is very important that we’ve had time to recover some players, to have a new energy, to prepare well for the game with this long week. So we don’t have excuses now. We have to get out onto the field with the proper attitude and a great activation so that we can start well the game.”
The news is particularly positive across the backline, as Ottawa will get MacDonald Niba back from injury, as well as captain Drew Beckie from a one-game suspension.
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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
- Ottawa will provide a big test for Halifax’s young fullbacks: Between Ballou Tabla, Malcolm Shaw, Carl Haworth, Zach Verhoven, and others, Ottawa is a side with some of the best wide attacking threats and options in the league. With this in mind, the match will be a real challenge for Halifax’s two young fullbacks, Colin Gander and Zach Fernandez. This could be especially true as González mentioned that his side will be looking for ways around the Wanderers midfield in this match, looking to attack in other areas. The good news for Halifax is that Gander and Fernandez have been excellent of late. Gander was named to the CPL’s Gatorade Team of the Week after picking up an assist against Pacific, and Fernandez continues to impress defensively in 1v1 situations, tied for second in the league in tackles with teammate Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé and fourth in the league in duels won this season.
“Well they’ve had a lot of practice haven’t they?,” said Hart of his young fullbacks. “They have come up against some of the best wide players in the league and I think they have done relatively well. But we have to make sure that we give them the proper support because now you are dealing with different types of wingers in Tabla and Shaw, so we have to make sure they have the correct support in terms of coverage.”
- Halifax needs more “concentration” if they want to build on historic result: As previously mentioned, Halifax is still looking for their first back-t0-back wins this season. But if history is any indicator, this match could be the perfect opportunity. All three times in their history that they’ve won back-to-back games, the second win has been against Atlético Ottawa. Getting that win, however, will require a patient and concentrated effort from Halifax against a team who thrives on situations where their opponents lack those two qualities. Even in their match against Pacific, Hart felt his side lacked concentration late in the match which allowed their opponents back into the match. He believes concentration and the consistency that the club has been lacking go hand-in-hand. “Really and truly if you are going to play at a consistent level, most of it is concentration,” said Hart. “We know we can win certain games. We know we can keep possession, et cetera, et cetera, and we know we can keep clean sheets. The only conclusion is, in terms of consistency, it is a concentration issue.”
- Ottawa looking to snap an uncharacteristic scoreless stretch: Before their last two matchdays, Ottawa had only once before gone back-to-back games without scoring, early in the Winnipeg bubble last July. They will certainly not be looking to make it the wrong kind of club record and go three straight tomorrow. For their part, however, the club isn’t too concerned, despite the 1-0 loss to Edmonton they did still create plenty of chances, putting up a 1.03. xG and creating eight shots in the box, even if only one of them was on target. “We are not worried about this,” said González. “We would be worried if we didn’t create the chances, or if we were a flat team. I think that of course we can improve in creating more situations, but we are working on this. I think the team is working hard to improve the things that we haven’t done as good in the last two rounds. So I think we are on a good track.”
HFX Wanderers wins: 4 || Atlético Ottawa wins: 2 || Draws: 2
April 16, 2022 — Atlético Ottawa 1-0 HFX Wanderers
“Their results speak for themselves. They are going to be resilient, and they have a way of playing they are not going to change. They are a team that tries to force you into mistakes with their patience. They are patient, they wait for their opportunities and they are very efficient on the counter-attack. So we have to be and we are aware of this.” — HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart
“Halifax of course is a historic team. Tomorrow is going to be a great day of football I am sure with a great atmosphere. They are a solid team, they are a team that are growing in the last few rounds, even seeing the results. They have a strong midfield, strong players and they are going to be a team that are going to compete until the end for the playoffs. So tomorrow we have a very important game against a team who is fighting for similar targets to us” — Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González