You read it here first Ottawa: a local pro football team that plays at TD Place stadium has finished first in its league and is going to the playoffs. No, it isn’t the Redblacks, it’s Atletico Ottawa.
And, yes, a lot of its diehard fans still call it football, not soccer.
On any given night or afternoon when Atletico Ottawa is playing an away game, you can count on those diehard soccer supporters packing the Glebe Central Pub on Bank Street to watch their local Canadian Premier League team in action.
Attendance continues to climb for the young team, due in part to the work of the Capital City Supporters Group. Their march down Bank Street from the pub to the stadium ahead of home games is getting bigger and louder with each game. And tomorrow’s regular season finale will be extra sweet.
“People have responded with immense positivity and enthusiasm with what we have been able to create,” said Daniel Duff, president and founder of the group.
“We have a clear vision of what it will take to sew soccer into the fabric of the sporting landscape here in Ottawa. We have a lot of work to do. But we aren’t afraid to do it, and that’s been the biggest change in my opinion.”
The team clinched the CPL’s regular season crown on Saturday, when second place Pacific FC lost its game to Cavalry FC. As a result, this afternoon’s game at TD Place becomes something of a formality ahead of its first ever playoff game set for Oct. 23 at TD Place stadium. The first place finish has the added benefit of home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“We will celebrate the good moments when they come. This weekend is one of those very moments. It’s been an incredible season,” said Duff.
🏆 <a href=”https://twitter.com/atletiOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@atletiOttawa</a> ARE THE 2022 <a href=”https://twitter.com/CPLsoccer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CPLsoccer</a> REGULAR SEASON Champions ❗️<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CanPL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CanPL</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Atl%C3%A9ticoOttawa?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AtléticoOttawa</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/playoffsareMASSIVE?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#playoffsareMASSIVE</a> <a href=”https://t.co/E38dvaj4do”>pic.twitter.com/E38dvaj4do</a>
Significant changes helped build team’s successes
Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando López appreciates the symbiotic relationship developing between the supporters group and his squad, where one feeds off the other.
“We have felt their support with us during the good times, but also through some more difficult moments,” said López.
“They have pushed us to put the best product we can on the field and they have rewarded us by bringing an atmosphere in the stadium like none other. … We have lots left to build with them, but we know they care about this club and our success as much as we do.”
They have pushed us to put the best product we can on the field and they have rewarded us by bringing an atmosphere in the stadium like none other.– Fernando López, Atletico Ottawa
After finishing at the bottom of the league table last year, López made significant changes to the team, including a head coaching switch.
“We have a lot of players that were brought back, or on at the beginning of this season that are already signed for at least one more year, and so is our head coach,” said López.
The success on the pitch means fans, both rabid and casual, have been rewarded with wins and plenty of goals. For Duff, that means the team is poised to provide something Ottawa sports fans haven’t seen much of lately: playoff success.
“Let’s face it, nobody wants to pay money to watch their team lose. All too often in this town that’s the norm. Let me tell you this club is here to change all of that.,” he said.
“Atletico Madrid owns this team. They have a very long history of collecting silverware. An organization of that stature didn’t come here to Ottawa to do anything else but continue that winning philosophy. This team deserves its time in the sun and now is that time to get on the bandwagon and enjoy a memorable and historic playoff run.”
Atletico Ottawa hosts York United this evening at 6 pm.