Mista: Atlético Ottawa no longer CPL’s ‘question mark’
Canadian Premier League

What a run by Atlético Ottawa at The Island Games.

The expansion side’s bizarre first season in the Canadian Premier League came to an end Sunday with a 2-0 loss to HFX Wanderers FC.

Goals from Akeem Garcia and Alessandro Riggi put Ottawa, who needed all three points to advance to the second round, out of contention and forced them to head home.

“Coming into the season we were a question mark, both internally and externally,” coach Mista said after the game. “I think we showed we’re a team. We leave as a team and they should be proud, and on our end, we’re proud of their development.

“The main thing is they leave better than they came and that’s all we can ask for.”

Ottawa kept a good pace against the Wanderers. Malcolm Shaw and Francisco Acuña looked promising in attack by winning the ball high and using smart one-twos to generate chances. Mo Kourouma generated quality chances up the right wing.

The Wanderers scored a second goal in the 60th minute when a back pass by Ottawa’s Ben McKendry’s put Riggi in on goal. A clear-cut chance skied over the bar by Viti Martinez was the final quality chance of the match for Ottawa.

“Halifax is a good team, they’re above us in the standings and today they showed it,” Mista stated. “They were waiting for us to make mistakes. On the first goal, that’s something we studied beforehand but in the end they took advantage of our mistakes.”

Mista’s came into Sunday’s do-or-die tilt after snatching three points from Pacific FC at midweek. Martinez’s late winner against Pacific was one of several highlights for Ottawa at the Island Games.

It’s crazy to think Ottawa, a club formed a short eight months ago and organized during a global pandemic, nearly qualified for a playoff-equivalent competition. Captain Ben Fisk, swept up in the defeat, understood the greater context of a brand-new side just a few goals away from advancing.

“Right now it hurts a lot,” Fisk said with a chuckle. “Once the emotion from the loss today passes I think we’ll look back and be proud of what we did.”

Fisk added that Ottawa, which completed its inaugural roster days before play kicked off in PEI, would have taken a do-or-die final day opportunity when they first landed at The Island Games.

Mista took a moment during Sunday’s media availability to speak to Ottawa supporters directly – in English.

“Thank you to all Ottawa supporters. We’re proud of all of you and we’re waiting for next year to have a better result,” Mista said, before translator and assistant coach Fabian Troche took over.

“This was a tough year, for us on the field and our families, and also for you guys back home,” Troche said.

“Hopefully, 2021, we can live with you and have your support live.”

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