Not much more than a week after Atlético Ottawa revealed their first signing, the roster has been filling up quickly, with seven players now announced.
With the club currently in training camp in Madrid, coach Mista has likely begun instilling a philosophy and experimenting with how he envisions his team lining up during the 2020 CPL season.
There’s been an absolute whirlwind of news in the past couple of weeks, so you’d be forgiven for missing out on some things. Plus, a couple of the names in Ottawa’s squad may not be familiar to everyone.
So, we’re here to help. Breaking it down position by position, here’s a look at how Atlético Ottawa’s inaugural roster is shaping up — and where the biggest holes might be so far.
Ottawa has just one ‘keeper on the official roster so far, in experienced Canadian shot-stopper Ricky Gomes. A native of Kitchener, Ont., he has spent a lot of time in Europe — Portugal and Scotland, mostly.
With his resume, it seems like he’d be a lot older than he is, but at just 26, Gomes is certainly not slowing down anytime soon. Indeed, he’ll relish the chance to earn consistent playing time for a professional side in his native country. It’s unclear if Gomes is absolutely penned in to be the club’s number one ‘keeper in 2020, or if there’s another goalkeeper who will compete with him, but either way, Ottawa has an intriguing starting point between the posts.
Signed: Kunle Dada-Luke, Michel Djaozandry
The backline is a spot where Ottawa will surely have a few more names coming down the pipe, especially at centre-back (of which they have none so far). Out wide, though, they have a pair of young fullbacks.
Djaozandry, a 22-year-old from Trois-Rivières, Que., is shaping up to be the club’s left fullback, although he’s capable of playing in midfield on either side. He impressed at last year’s CPL Open Trials in Montreal, and finally landed his CPL opportunity with Ottawa. Could he cut a similar path to York9 FC’s Diyadedine Abzi, breaking out as an offensively-gifted left-back from Quebec?
On the other side of defence, Kunle Dada-Luke will be looking to win himself the starting job at right-back. Malyk Hamilton, as well, could go into that role, having played there for Cavalry FC last year, but he may be better served in a wingback or right wing position. Dada-Luke told CanPL.cathat his preferred spot right now is right fullback, so that’ll probably be where he’ll compete in camp.
Signed: Antoine Coupland, Ajay Khabra, Malyk Hamilton
We’re playing a tiny bit fast and loose with positions here, because it’s unclear where exactly some players will be lining up (unknown quantities like Coupland especially). Still, Atlético Ottawa has some solid pieces across the middle of the park.
We’ll start with Khabra, probably a lock to start right in the centre. He was one of the most underrated passers in the CPL in Year 1, and the 24-year-old could continue to thrive if he’s tasked with pulling all the strings in Ottawa.
Hamilton’s exact position may vary from week to week, but he should be on the field most games, if not all. He was good in limited minutes at Cavalry last year, all while learning a new (more defensive) position than he’d been used to. Hamilton may be wasted if played as an out-and-out right-back. But if Mista finds a way to set up his lineup with wingbacks, that could play perfectly into Hamilton’s hands.
Coupland, the 16-year-old from the Ottawa region, is our wild card here. He didn’t get very many minutes with the Ottawa Fury last year, but it seems like his appearances came in a number of spots around midfield and the attack. He’s young, and as such can probably be taught to play wherever the club needs him. Coupland’s progression in 2019 will be fascinating to watch.
Signed: Ben Fisk
Ottawa’s most attacking player is another winger, in former Pacific FC star Ben Fisk. He was the club’s first signing, and probably still their most significant so far. Fisk, after doing so several times for the Tridents last year, will almost certainly captain his new club in its inaugural season.
Fisk provided six goals and five assists last year, showing an ability to play on either side of a front three. He’s a dynamic, skilled player with plenty of experience both at home and abroad. Obviously, he’s a lock to be in any starting 11 for Atlético Ottawa; at this point, we’re just waiting on the supporting cast.
Perhaps the biggest hole in Ottawa’s roster so far is right in the middle of the attack. They’ll definitely need a full-time goalscorer, perhaps a big-bodied poacher who can cause havoc in the box and finish consistently.
Of course, there are plenty of names still to come as Ottawa rolls out its inaugural roster, so most of these holes should be filled in the coming weeks. Surely, there’s a surprise or two (perhaps a big splash) in store.