Atletico Ottawa Secures The Return Of Matteo De Brienne
It’s official: Atletico Ottawa has secured the return of highly-touted full-back and CPL Best U-21 Canadian award-winner Matteo de Brienne.
The 21-year-old arrives after two seasons with Valour FC, where he stablished himself as a tireless full-back with fast bursts of momentum and a keen eye for goal, too.
Northern Tribune learned that the call home was strong for de Brienne, who turned down an offer from MLS-linked side Tacoma Defiance while also rejecting a ‘substantial financial offer’ from Valour, who sought to keep him at IG Field.
De Brienne, 21, has consistently dazzled CPL spectators with his blistering runs down the left flank, where he can be deployed as both a full-back or up further as a winger. Atletico Ottawa had made it clear he was welcome back to his hometown club anytime, with the youngster now taking them up on that offer.
His new deal with Atletico Ottawa will run through the 2024 CPL season, with a club option for 2025 – quite a good deal for the club should his stock continue to rise.
“This is a dream,” said de Brienne of the move. “From a young boy coming to Fury FC games to now getting the opportunity to play for Atletico Ottawa and in front of these fans, it’s an honour. There are so many emotions right now: you work so hard for these opportunities but when you get the chance in your hometown, it’s massive. Ottawa is the right place for me to grow as a person, and as a player, and to take the next step in my career.”
Matteo’s youth career saw him develop locally with Ottawa South United before heading west to join the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency program, where he rose to the U-19 level before inking his first deal with Atletico Ottawa after a short trial in 2020. The condensed Island Games season did not beget him a professional debut, however, and he enrolled in Carleton University the following year, earning OAU West Division Rookie Of The Year honours after bagging six goals in ten appearances.
He was expected to go quickly in the subsequent CPL-U SPORTS Draft but ended up signing a professional deal with Valour FC just ahead of it. While Valour boss Dos Santos used him as a late game sub for his first nine appearances, his first-ever start saw him bag a goal against Pacific, after which he featured in every other league match for the rest of the season.
His progress and strong form continued into 2023, where he cemented himself as a leading full-back in the league at the age of 21. He finished second in the league for interceptions with 40, tallying three goals and three assists while landing fourth-most out of any player for interceptions per ninety. To the surprise of few, he picked up the league’s Best Canadian U-21 Player award following his strong season, though Valour finished last.
“We are delighted to be able to count on Matteo for next season,” confirmed Atletico Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez, who wasn’t there for the player’s first spell in town. “He encompasses all the aspects that we are looking for when building our squad, competitive mentality and talent as well as proven experience and a sense of belonging.”
“He is a player with great skills that allow him to play in a variety of wide positions, and he excels in the energy and attacking dynamics he brings to his game. For us, it is very important to attract local products and to be able to help them in their professional development.”
Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez added that Matteo’s progression over the last two seasons speaks for itself. Given that the youngster has already fielded an offer from the Seattle Sounders developmental pipeline this season, it’s clear many think that progress will continue.
“For the last two years, I’ve chased dreams growing as a person and as a player,” added De Brienne. “I’ve battled under different colours and will ever be grateful for my opportunities. I’m honoured to be back in the city that raised me.”
With the capital club club having recently confirmed the re-signing of key players like Nathan Ingham, Alberto Zapater, and Ollie Bassett, they’re off to a strong start into the offseason – and it’s one that won’t end with Matteo.
Header Image Photo Credit: Chris Hue