Atletico Ottawa Leans Local Amid Injury Crisis
Atletico Ottawa may be owned by Spanish giants in Madrid, but the club is certainly looking local in the face of an injury crisis that sees eight players sidelined with one suspended for multiple matches.
Last night’s match against York United saw Atletico Ottawa quietly add Futuro Academy’s Mamadou Ba to the lineup, with the 2003-born athlete signing a short-term contract with the CPL side just hours before the kickoff. He rode a six-man bench that included five other outfield players and no goalkeeper, and caught an Uber back to train with his youth team following the match.
Former Ottawa Fury assistant coach Jed Davies describes Ba as a humble, hard-working player who, just two years ago, had barely made the bench at the youth level and has shown significant growth since.
Ba’s academy had also helped springboard 17-year-old Antoine Coupland into the professional game, who joined Mamadou on the bench tonight but is in the midst of his third professional season.
This August saw Atletico Ottawa begin a string of local signings with the additions of OSU players Jaeden Mercure and Myles Cornwall, the former of whom made a substitute appearance alongside summertime loan Nyal Higgins.
Chris Mannella also came off the bench against his former team last night, returning after missing five matches through injury.
With Atletico Ottawa missing the likes of Dylon Powley, Drew Beckie, Milovan Kapor, Brandon John, Sean-Claud Lawson, Kesean Ferdinand, Vashon Neufville, and Raul Uche, the club now leans heavily on its partnerships with youth affiliates to bolster its numbers through developmental contracts.
Given that there was no signing announcement made for Mamadou Ba, it is unlikely that his call-up will extend beyond a single match experience for the time being. FC Edmonton made a similar move this summer, quietly calling up academy product Ali Yildiz to the bench without a formal announcement. He returned to the youth setup following the match.
Atletico Ottawa will have been the happier of the two teams last night after scoring late to rescue a point, coming back from a goal down twice to finish all square at 2-2. Another recent addition, Matthew Arnone, nearly netted a last-gasp winner that had TD Place release a chorus of ‘oohs’.
He was one of the first August+ additions for the side, and far from the last. Mamadou Ba marked the fifth player added to the club since that time, and if Powley remains sidelined head coach Mista would be wise to recruit emergency goalkeeper for the bench, too.
With the capital city club currently last in Canadian Premier League standings but showing a lot of spirit, it now finds itself at a defining point of the season – and undefeated at home in league play. The second half of the campaign will prove an uphill battle for the side, but the tough circumstances mean that local talents like Ba, Coupland, Mercure, and Cornwall will have new opportunities to shine.