Atletico Ottawa has nearly spent a month in Spain for their preseason and there’s been a whole heap of news. While the club did not officially release a preseason schedule, there have been game scores trickling through on social media. Additionally, the club has made numerous new signings as the club continues to build toward the fast-approaching regular season.
Atletico Ottawa Reaping Reward of Madrid Ownership
The Club Have Been Training at One of Atletico Madrid’s Facilities
Ciudad Deportiva Wanda in Los Angeles de San Rafael is where the club began preseason training. It is not the first time the club has called the training ground home for preseason, as they have done so the two previous years. The pitch in Los Angeles de San Rafael is not one of the main facilities for parent club Atletico Madrid but they did spend some time there last summer. For the likes of Gianni Dos Santos, Samuel Salter, and Jean-Aniel Assi, it was their first time visiting the ground.
The club also took in an Atletico Madrid-Sevilla game at Metropolitano Stadium on March 4th.
Members of @atletiOttawa met our players this Saturday and both teams shared a nice moment after Atleti-Sevilla.
It’s always a pleasure to welcome our Canadian sister club at the Cívitas Metropolitano! pic.twitter.com/TnQUFg5181
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) March 5, 2023
Atletico Ottawa Are Inching Closer to Their Final Squad
After the signing of Gianni Dos Santos in mid-February, the club added forward Gabriel Antinoro shortly after. The Canadian of Brazilian origin joined the club on a two-year permanent deal from CF Montreal’s academy.
Antinoro is a 2004-born player meaning he will likely take up some valuable under-21 minutes for the club. Antinoro spent the last couple of seasons featuring for CF Montreal’s U23 side in the PLSQ, with some brief spells training with the first team. He was also notably a participant in the Italian youth tournament, the Viareggio Cup, with Bologna’s U19s. Bologna and CF Montreal of course share the same ownership.
Atletico Ottawa has also made two signings after landing in Spain. Notably, the club has picked up Toronto FC defender Luke Singh on loan for the season. Singh spent last season with the now-inactive FC Edmonton who finished dead last in the Canadian Premier League.
Singh at 22 years old is still looking to find his level but he has shown promise in the past. Some will remember when Singh started for Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 against Liga MX side Leon. It remains to be seen how much Singh will play this season for Atletico Ottawa, especially with the addition of Karl Ouimette and Diejo Espejo returning.
New Rule May Be Reason for Latest Signing
The second signing for Atletico Ottawa since arriving in Spain is French defender Aboubakary Sacko on free from Le Havre B. Like Antinoro, Sacko’s deal runs until 2024. Sacko is a youth product of Le Havre, which is located in the Normandy region of France. Some notable youth products of Le Havre include the like of World Cup winner Paul Pogba and Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet.
Le Havre B plays in the fifth tier of French football, where Sacko featured in just a handful of games. A big reason for this signing likely is because of a new rule the Canadian Premier League has implemented. As of March 17th, the club’s international spots must have at least 50% of these spots occupied by players 23 or younger.
At the moment, Ottawa has Sacko and Diejo Espejo who are U23 internationals. Miguel Acosta, Gianni Dos Santos, and Ollie Bassett are the other internationals, who are older than 23. To become compliant, the club needs to add just a single U23 international.
Atletico Ottawa Have Been Picking up Some Valuable Friendlies in Preseason
The club kicked off with its first friendly on March 8th against UD Sanse, who play in the third tier of Spain. Malcolm Shaw had the opener while trialist Tyr Walker, who will play for the Carleton Ravens next season netted the equalizer in a two-all draw. The match was played at the home of UD Sanse.
— Atlético Ottawa (@atletiOttawa) March 8, 2023
Atletico Ottawa headed to Atletico Madrid’s main youth facility for their next pair of preseason friendlies. The Centro Deportivo Wanda Alcala de Henares, just outside of Madrid. There Ottawa played Atletico Madrid’s B team in a nil-nil draw and picked up a one-nil win against Getafe B, who play in the fifth tier of Spain. Ollie Bassett was the lone goal scorer.
Atletico Ottawa faced off against Real Madrid Castilla on March 22nd. They lost two-nil but preseason of course is about the experience and not the results. Theo Zidane, the son of French legend Zinedine, featured in the match for RM Castilla while current Argentina U20 international Nico Paz also made an appearance for the baby Los Blancos.
It’s yet to be announced when Atletico Ottawa will be heading home. The club will kick off the regular season at home against Halifax on April 15th.
Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports on October 30, 2022.
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