Pacific FC wary of improving Atletico Ottawa
Pacific FC take on Atletico Ottawa at TD Place in the nation’s capital today. The Ottawa club is coming off two road victories and is tied for second in the CPL table with Calgary Cavalry FC, four points behind the PFC with one game less.
Pacific FC is in the nation’s capital today amid a flurry of weekend football news across the country.
“We have the national team preparing for the World Cup [although the scheduled Canada-Panama friendly today at B.C. Place was embroiled in a players’ dispute]CPL teams playing against MLS clubs [Forge FC versus Toronto FC in the delayed 2021 Canadian Championship] and it shows that the sport is growing across the country and more and more people are paying attention to it,” Merriman said.
“A lot of that energy is CPL.”
Which continues Sunday with PFC (5-1-3 wins-losses-draws) taking on Atlético Ottawa (4-2-2) at 10 a.m. PT at TD Place Stadium, also home of the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL. The Ottawa club, owned by Spanish La Liga giants Atlético Madrid, are coming off two road wins and are tied for second in the CPL standings with Calgary Cavalry FC, four points behind PFC with a game in hand. less. PFC appear to have stabilized after three wins to start the season and arrive after two draws in the league.
Atlético Ottawa, bottom of the league last season, is the club that has improved the most in the CPL under new head coach Carlos González, a Spaniard who coached the Kuwait national team.
“Ottawa has had good results in its last two games and we have to be ready,” Merriman said.
“I believe we are getting stronger as a group, even though the results haven’t gone our way in recent games.”
Everyone gets up to play starters.
“As the defending league champion, you know teams are going to chase you,” Merriman said.
“We felt that pressure. But the pressure is a privilege.
Ottawa is tough defensively and has had three clean sheets this season.
“They’re organized and compact,” Merriman said.
Offensively, Ottawa is counting on the counter-attack thanks to Ballou Tabla, the former MLS striker with CF Montreal, who played for Canada in under-17, U-20 and U-23, and has two selections with the senior national team. Also worth watching is former PFC attacking midfielder Ollie Bassett, the former Northern Ireland U-19 international, who showed intriguing flashes last season with the Tridents and has moved into a fuller role with Ottawa.
“Ollie had a good start and we have to be aware of him,” Merriman said.
It’s a homecoming for three PFC players who played for former professional club Ottawa Fury. Tridents captain Jamar Dixon hails from Ottawa. He originally came to the island to play three seasons with the amateur Victoria Highlanders, before being capped three times for Canada and playing professional in Europe and four seasons with the Fury. Veteran PFC goaltender Callum Irving has been released from NCAA Div. 1 with the University of Kentucky Wildcats to play three seasons with the Fury. Tridents defender and former Canada U-20 and U-23 player Thomas Meilleur-Giguère played two seasons with the Fury on loan from Montreal of MLS.
The Tridents won the first game of the season in Ottawa 1-0 thanks to the heroism of Irving’s goaltenders. PFC are 3-1-1 all-time against Atlético Ottawa.
CORNERS: As 2021 CPL Champions, Pacific FC will represent in the 2022 CONCACAF League competition against the best clubs in Central America and the Caribbean. The draw will be made at a ceremony on Wednesday.