Atletico Ottawa Signs Canadians Michel Djaozandry and Ricky Gomes
Canadian Premier League expansion side Atletico Ottawa just broke its pace of one announcement per day, revealing the domestic player signings of young full-back Michel Djaozandry and goalkeeper Ricky Gomes.
Djaozandry, 22, has previously trialed at both last year’s CPL Got Game open trials and with the now-defunct Ottawa Fury, with the former Montreal Impact academy player now getting a chance to prove himself with his first professional contract.
The Trois-Rivieres native is comfortable playing as both a left or a right fullback, and can slot into midfield as well. He’ll be a familiar opposition for Valour FC gaffer Rob Gale, who brought him into a national team talent identification camp when he was 17.
We are delighted to present Michel as an Atletico Ottawa player. His creativity and finesse with the ball in the last meters will make our team decisive towards to the goal. We are looking forward to working with him to develop his talent.Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez
For Djaozandry, the move happened quickly: he was planning on returning to school and was aiming to be part of next season’s CPL U-SPORTS Draft, but instead found himself offered a contract with Atletico Ottawa – which, on a whole, represents a large leap of faith from an organization attempting to fill its rankings quickly.
Still, the 22-year-old is eager to take the opportunity with both hands (or feet, rather):
Having the opportunity to play in the CPL is something really special and something that I was aiming for. This is a league where I can play to show everyone what I have, and to play at the highest level in Canada is just the perfect way to learn and progress. Being part of the first expansion team of the league in Ottawa is something that I appreciate a lot. It’s close to my family, who lives in the province of Quebec, and to play in a city where the fans are really involved is something that I’m looking forward to. Playing for Atletico Ottawa and being part of an organization as prestigious as Atletico de Madrid is simply a huge honour. They will help me reach higher levels and my goals for my career. I’m really grateful that they put their trust in me and I’m looking forward to delivering what they need this season.Michel Djaozandry
Djaozandry also spent three seasons in the PLSQ, where he plied his trade for
CS Saint-Hubert Groupe. In that, he’ll be hoping to replicate the success of Diyaeddine Abzi, who arrived to the professional domestic league from AS Blainville and established himself as one of the league’s best fullbacks.
The club also confirmed the signing of 26-year-old goalkeeper Ricky Gomes, who’s spent the bulk of his career overseas in Portugal. Prior to launching his professional career, he spent time with the youth teams for clubs like FC Portio, Vitoria Setubal and Gondomar Sport Club, and his since played for sides like SC Mirandela, Uniao Montemo, Scottish side Arbroath FC and Spanish fourth division side Deportivo la Coruna B.
We are very happy to have Ricky with us. He is an incredible goalkeeper with a large international career that will help us to strengthen a key position into our team. We can’t wait to see him on the pitch saving our goal.Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez
Most recently, he plied his trade in Portugal’s Second B division with Uniao Madeira. Some of the more dedicated Canadian fans may remember his name from his youth national team participation for Canada at the 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and the 2015 Pan Am Games, which was held in Canada.
The country is a place that Gomes – who was born in Kitchener, Ontario – never thought he would be able to play the professional game at the club level:
To say that this is a dream move would be a lie, because I never envisioned Canada having a professional soccer league. Growing up it just wasn’t something you thought about — that’s why I left Canada at fourteen. It’s safe to say that signing for a club owned by Atletico de Madrid in the nation’s capital in the Canadian Premier League is well beyond any of my wildest dreams growing up as a Canadian kid playing soccer.Ricky Gomes
The goalkeeper also made reference to the league’s ambition of giving the next generation of domestic talent a strong foundation to build form, stating that Atletico Ottawa’s youngest player – Antoine Coupland – is a good example of what’s to come.
The duo represent the fifth and sixth signings from the Canadian Premier League expansion side, which is due to begin preseason in Madrid later this week. The club made its first-ever signing last week when it brought in Ben Fisk, with other Year One CPLers like Malyk Hamilton and Ajay Khabra following in short order.
So far, the identity of Atletico Ottawa seems to be skewing young: At 26, Gomes is the second-oldest player. At 22, even Djaozandry finds himself senior to two youngsters who have spent more time at the professional level than him – though as the first year showed, many first-year pros proved themselves to be quite capable in the burgeoning league.
With the club’s first six signings all being domestic players, it’ll be interesting to see what internationals come into play when the club is ready to announce them.
Atletico Ottawa did not disclose the length or financial details from either contract.
Source: Canadian Premier League