Lopez On Atletico Ottawa Roster: ‘We Have A Box Full Of Surprises’
Canadian Premier League side Atletico Ottawa just announced yesterday that it would begin its preseason in Spain on April 1, with club CEO Fernando Lopez recently providing additional details regarding both the camp and upcoming player signings to Le Droit in a french-speaking interview.
The Atletico Ottawa executive provided some clarity on the timeline of the camp, which will begin about an hour north of Madrid in Los Angeles de San Rafael for a period of about 7-10 days. The atmosphere will be more relaxed at the same location in which Atletico Madrid begins its own preseason camp, with Lopez noting that the players will even be able to catch some golf as they prepare for more rigorous sessions at Atletico Madrid’s Alcala de Henares training complex a week or so later.
Lopez states that the full camp length will run from 3-4 weeks, with players also set to meet some of the La Liga side’s first team athletes at the training complex, with Atletico Madrid’s own medical team overseeing the CPL side every step of the way.
Our players will be able to visit the complex and even meet players from our first division club in La Liga. We want our players to feel that they are part of the big Atletico family. We want them to understand our culture and our team philosophy so that we can replicate the model here in Ottawa and wherever we go in Canada.Fernando Lopez
While the club has only confirmed ten players ahead of the 2021 Canadian Premier League season, it appears that the bulk of the inbound athletes may have been leaked by an errant Soccerway roster update that has since been removed.
Whoever ultimately arrives, Lopez suggests that fans will be pleased with what they see, noting that Atletico Ottawa expects to have between 16-20 players on hand at the end of the team’s time in Spain.
The club will be moving on without a few key pieces, like iron man athletes Nacho Zabal and Malyk Hamilton, team captain Ben Fisk, and high-profile midfielder Francisco Acuna.
With our own sources indicating that the likes of Ryan Telfer, Chris Mannella, and Jordan Webb have been confirmed after being listed in Soccerway’s leak, it’s looking like Atletico Ottawa has begun a strong roster rebuild after finishing in seventh place out of eight last season.
To that end, Lopez simply states that fans will like what they see:
You can tell our supporters that we have a box full of surprises. I think they will be very proud of the team we are building. Last year, we assembled our team very quickly. We bought the team in February to start our camp in March. This year we had more time to analyze all the data with our recruiting team. They have done a tremendous job of identifying players that will be part of our roster. We will have a very competitive team no matter when we start.Fernando Lopez
The CPL’s first-ever expansion team has been able to lean on the scouting department of Atletico Madrid itself, which may even have more manpower behind it than the league’s own partnership with 21st Club – though that service is fully available to the team, too.
The club has retained internationals Vashon Neufville, Viti Martinez, Osah Bernardinho, and Tevin Shaw from its inaugural season, which the latter two missed out on due to border difficulties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whatever happens this time around, Atletico Ottawa’s time in Spain will offer the side a significant advantage over their domestic competitors, who are still awaiting permission to fully train in Canada. Even reigning champions Forge FC saw the 2020 Canadian Championship Final further delayed due to a lack of permission to train.
The Spanish contingent of Atletico Ottawa’s coaching staff is currently in Madrid, with the rest of the club’s playing roster – both announced and unannounced – set to arrive when the calendar turns to April.
Source: Le Droit