Leading Atletico make no apologies for defense’s first approach to success


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Without a doubt, playing strong defense on the pitch has taken Atletico Ottawa to the top of the Canadian Premier League standings.

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This style, however, also requires them to play some defense off the field.

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As Atletico prepare to take on Edmonton FC for ’80s Night’ at TD Place on Friday night, they are doing their best to deflect criticism that they are ‘boring’.

At least that’s what football insider Gareth Wheeler claimed earlier this week after Atletico’s 0-0 draw with Hamilton-based Forge FC on August 27.

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“I don’t hit them because they play to their strengths and they’ve shown they’re a decent team on the counter-attack, but they’re the most boring team to watch in this league,” he said. said Wheeler, who can be heard. on TSN and One Soccer. ” There is no doubt. They don’t go out and try to play. They go out and try to defend and capitalize on mistakes. All the power to them, but they’re boring.

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The beauty, of course, is in the style of the viewer.

Atletico limited their rivals to just 23 goals in 22 games which helped produce a record of 11 wins, six draws and five losses. They have gone from the bottom of the CPL a year ago to the top spot.

In just about every team sport, a compelling argument can be made that keeping the opponent quiet is ultimately the magic potion for success.

To quote the famous former Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, “attack wins you games, defense wins you titles”.

Likewise, the whole tone of the commentary struck a chord with Atletico’s organization and its fans.

“What can I say?” Atletico coach Carlos Gonzales said Thursday in a Zoom call with media that did not include Wheeler. “We are not focused on these kinds of situations. We are focused on our path, on our way of doing things. Right now we have great results. I think the team is growing day by day. We are performing well. »

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In effect. Atletico seem to have learned a few lessons and cleaned up some things since their 4-0 loss to Forge on July 31.

Since then they have won three, lost one and produced the 0-0 stalemate in the rematch against Forge.

“So maybe, I think, maybe this reporter, maybe he hasn’t seen us in a long time,” Gonzales continued. “Then I do not know.”

The coach also insists he’s not about to change the game plan as he prepares for Edmonton, which has three wins, six draws and 13 losses this season. They were outscored 44-26 along the way.

There is nothing flamboyant here. In fact, some might describe the one-game-at-a-time approach as repetitive, but Gonzales doesn’t care. He thinks the fanbase recognizes the ongoing process.

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“We’re going day to day, we can’t look any further than that,” he said of the prospect of a lengthy playoff streak. “One of the key things about the results we’re getting this season is that we’re focused on the next stage, not more than that. I think we’re creating a great chemistry between the fans, the city and us. We have to maintain that. . We need to give them a reason to come, (more of them) to TD Place. We’re working on that.”

The danger here would be to look beyond Edmonton. When the clubs met in sloppy, rainy conditions at TD Place on August 7, Atletico had their hands full before eventually securing a 2-1 victory thanks to two goals from Ballou Tabla.

“I think they’ve gotten so, so much better,
said Gonzales. “It won’t be an easy game because they have a lot of energy. They always have a good image in every game. No one beats them easily.

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CONTINUE FROM THE LOCAL PIPELINE: Atletico announced on Thursday that former Ottawa South United star Anthony Domanico has signed a developmental contract for the remainder of the season.

Domanico was scouted as part of Atletico Madrid’s development programme.

Earlier in the week, Atletico announced the signing of West Ottawa Soccer Club products Omar Darwis and Gabriel Carvalho.

“Like Gabriel and Omar, Anthony has shown great promise in his involvement in the development program and we are happy to offer him this opportunity to continue with our team,” Atletico CEO Fernando Lopez said. in a press release. “Even in its first year of operation, the program is already having a tangible impact on the path of soccer development in the region and we look forward to seeing all that it can offer young talented local soccer players in the years to come. come.

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