Match Preview: Cavalry FC vs. Atlético Ottawa - ComeOn Match of the Week
Atlético Ottawa Away Match Cavalry FC Match Preview News
2022 CPL Regular Season - Match #101
Cavalry FC vs. Atlético Ottawa
September 24, 2022 5:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. MT
ATCO Field in Calgary, Alberta
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here
The Canadian Premier League's top two teams will meet at Spruce Meadows on Saturday, both looking for a win that could see them clinch a spot in the CPL playoffs.
For the visiting Atlético Ottawa, the task is straightforward, win and they will qualify for the postseason for the first time in club history.
"It is a great opportunity," said Atleti coach Carlos González, "a well-deserved opportunity because we have worked really hard since the beginning to be in this position and this situation so we are going to play with that intention, knowing that it is a very important game."
A win for Cavalry, meanwhile, would put them top of the table and on the verge of a fourth-straight postseason appearance. However, they would also need Valour to draw or lose against York United on Friday to clinch a playoff spot.
Securing a playoff position isn't the only thing on the line during this match either. Three points for either side could loom large in the race to crown a regular season champion.
The league announced this past weekend that it will now provide a cash incentive for the regular season champion, with a trophy to be awarded in future seasons as well as a berth in the Concacaf Champions League. Finishing top would also provide home field advantage during the playoffs.
Ottawa has been at the top of the table for multiple weeks now, but largely only because movement underneath them has been so stagnant. Atleti is undefeated in their last six matches, but the past four in a row have all been draws.
Cavalry, meanwhile, were the only side in the league to pick up a victory this past weekend. A goal from Joe Mason handed them a 1-0 victory in the Al Classico against rival FC Edmonton. They have lost just once since the two sides last met on August 21.
That match, also played at Spruce Meadows, was a smash-and-grab road performance from Atelti. The league's best road side picked up a 3-0 victory, scoring on all three of their shots while holding just 24 per cent possession.
"I don't think I've ever been in a game like last time, where we have had 76 per cent of the ball, and dominated every category other than the scoreline," said Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "That just still to this day will always baffle me in my coaching history, but it worked for them. That's all that matters in statistics, is the scoreline".
Ottawa, however, has worked on controlling the tempo more when they are on the road, holding onto the ball instead of just rushing to create transitional moments. Against a very good side like Cavalry, the progression in this part of their game will undoubtedly be put to test.
A win over Atleti this weekend would not only put @CPLCavalryFC top of the #CanPL table, but should they win and Valour draw/lose against York they are also playoff bound!
Atlético has largely had Cavalry's number since joining the Canadian Premier League. They remain the only side in the league this year that the Calgary outfit has not beaten.
Ottawa picked up their first-ever victory as a club back at the 2020 Island Games against Cavalry, a 2-0 win on August 27, 2020. Since then, Cavalry has lost four of the six other meetings, with only a single all-time victory against Ottawa.
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
Cavalry looking to turn Spruce Meadows into a fortress for the last three matches of the season: The home stretch of the CPL season has added meaning for Cavalry FC as they will play all three of their final matches in Calgary at Spruce Meadows. Looking to build up momentum before the postseason, that will suit them just fine as they have the most points per game of any team at home so far this season. No club has allowed fewer goals at home than Cavalry's nine, and only Forge and Pacific have scored more at home this season. "It gives us the slight edge," said Wheeldon Jr. of playing at home. "We've got the best home record of all teams, so we are going to lean into that. We know our fans will help us get through it, they have done it before, and we are really going to enjoy these moments."
Both sides have plenty of options heading into the final stretch of the season: González said that his side looks like they are in excellent fitness ahead of this match, and other than defender MacDonald Niba, who is still dealing with a muscle issue, they are fully healthy. This has mostly been the case all year for Atleti, and perhaps a big reason why they are at the top of the table. Cavalry, meanwhile, has struggled to keep its players healthy all year, but has been cautious all year with player rotation with an eye toward making sure their squad was healthy at this critical time of the year. That looks to have paid off, as Wheeldon Jr. confirmed that other than Anthony Novak every player in the squad has returned to the field in some capacity. Long-term injury Tom Fields has shown good progress of late and is back in training. Myer Bevan and Sergio Camargo, meanwhile, are back in full training, while Joe Di Chiara and Mikaël Cantave both return from suspension. "It is a really interesting situation for us as a staff where now we've got to have some conversations to leave people in the stands, which I've not had to do much this year," said Wheeldon Jr. "So it is a fortuitous situation, and that is what you need for the run-in. You need all bodies, whether it is to play on the preparation team or to play with the team that we are going to start, and the tactics that we are trying to implement."
League's initiative to recognize regular season champions adds incentive for both sides: As aforementioned, the Canadian Premier League announced this past weekend that they will now recognize the regular season. This wrinkle gives added incentive to what is an already thrilling race for the regular season title. "I think what this does is it meets the North American playoff mentality with the purist better of 28 games," said Wheeldon Jr. "That is the most even balance of form, and you marry both. And why not have two exciting competitions, and three if you include the Canadian Championship." González echoed the sentiments of his counterpart, saying that it will add some intrigue to the end of the regular season. "It is a great initiative I think because every team works really hard for 28 rounds to be up there. So I think that having an extra motivation is really good for everyone."
Cavalry FC wins: 1 || Ottawa wins: 5|| Draws: 1
August 21, 2022 - Cavalry FC 0-3 Atlético Ottawa
"Credit Ottawa, they are the best team in the league, because the league table doesn't lie so we've got to beat them and that is what we have been preparing for all week" - Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
"All of the games are tight games at the moment. All of the teams are playing their best performance and the games are being won by teams because of small details. I don't think there is going to be a big difference between them and us, so I expect a hard game, a game in between two teams that are so, so competitive." - Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González
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