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Opinion: Atlético Ottawa should add experience to its potential

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Atlético Ottawa’s roster has become clearer with the announcements of recent signings, despite the interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Ottawa soccer fans have been given a glimpse of what they can expect to see when the next Canadian Premier League season commences.

The emerging Ottawa squad boasts plenty of potential with many young players. Currently, eight of the 14 signed players to date are 23-years-old or younger. These players are ready for more playing time to show what they can add to the team and will hope to prove to themselves and fans how good they are. 

However, it’s important for Atlético Ottawa to find the right balance between potential and experience.

The roster is still progressing, and more players are coming. But, this team should not just be all about youth for two primary reasons.

Firstly, the average fan might need name recognition to entice them to attend games and attract attention to the sport in Ottawa. Secondly, the young team, especially the Canadians, could learn so much from veteran players’ presence – players that have made it in the world of soccer prior to there being a CPL.

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Of course, this is not the English Premier League. Many players see the CPL as an avenue to bigger things and it’s not their ultimate destination. But, Atlético Ottawa is going to have a difficult time selling tickets if it is marketed as only a developmental club. 

Atlético Ottawa should target a notable Canadian veteran

There is much to be excited about looking at the roster as it stands today. And I plan to examine the growing squad in detail in the coming weeks with future articles.

But moving forward, I would like to see a notable Canadian veteran player added to this roster. Names like Ian Hume, Simeon Jackson, André Hainault and Atiba Hutchinson come to mind. Hutchinson may be a pipedream, but why not aim high?

The CPL already boasts Canadians with vast international experience. Nik Ledgerwood brings years of European playing-time to Cavalry FC. Pacific FC can draw upon Marcel de Jong’s Major League Soccer experience. And Forge FC’s David Edgar has played in the English Premier League and MLS.

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Atlético Ottawa should target this type of player. A full circle home coming, showing this team isn’t just about the future but connecting the long time Canadian soccer fans to its history. A closing of a chapter can’t only be to forget the past, but to look forward with the people who blazed the trail to get the CPL to be a reality.

Atlético Ottawa needs a veteran player to help bring this young group into the next phase, to show them just how far Canadian soccer has come and to instill in them the values and lessons learned so our new core of young players doesn’t have to make as difficult a journey moving forward. Atlético Ottawa has potential. Now they need a General.

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About Author

Ryan Stead

Ryan Stead is an Ottawa-based writer and life-long soccer fan. He has covered soccer and boxing for various outlets and is a published novelist with the book "Nation Man", available at Indigo. He covers Atlético Ottawa.

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