No Return Ticket: York United Is All-In On Playoff Push
It’s safe to say the last-gasp heroics from Kevin Dos Santos made for quite a scene at York Lions Stadium last weekend: the winger’s last-gasp goal saw York United leap over Atletico Ottawa into the fifth and final playoff spot with one game left on the docket.
The Nine Stripes will kick off tonight knowing that a win against Vancouver FC – who are proving big disruptors of late – will seal a playoff position, but anything else leaves room for Atletico Ottawa to snatch back the coveted fifth spot tomorrow.
The team flew into Langley with no return ticket in sight: should results go their way, they face a direct flight to face whatever CPL team will host them in the fourth-versus-fifth knockout playoff round next Wednesday. That could be headed for the west coast, go back to Ontario, or face a ~4,500 kilometer flight all the way to Halifax.
“It’s an unusual situation as there are so many different potential outcomes,” says Club President Angus McNab. “The guys have been great and the mood in camp is very good.”
It’s been a rollercoaster season for York United, and it seemed like the season had gotten away from them before Atletico Ottawa fell into one of the worst patches of form in club history. York had a four-game home stand to catch up, but lost three of them before besting Ottawa in what felt like a ‘last chance saloon’ type of match.
With the expanded playoff format including the top five teams in an eight team league, there are three teams in the running from second-to-fourth and two for fifth, making for one hell of a closing weekend.
“We don’t know where we will end up, but to be honest, that doesn’t matter,” continues McNab. “We know a win secures playoffs and that’s our sole focus and goal – take Sunday’s momentum and keep rolling forward.”
York has been a team of hot and cold moments, going undefeated in five in the early season and, bizarrely, playing better away than they do at home. Perhaps that’ll be a key ingredient against Vancouver, who got eliminated before beating Valour, Halifax, and Pacific all in a row.
For York United, the goal is clear: win and you’re in. Anything less and the squad will have to see how Atletico Ottawa fares against three-time CPL champions Forge FC, whom they’ve only beaten once before.
“I don’t think at this point we deserve another opportunity, but if we’re given it I hope to God the locker room wakes up and we get it done,” said exasperated Ottawa goalkeeper Nathan Ingham after their loss to York. “It feels like a lot of guys are in the wrong profession right now if we can’t turn things around.”
The nation’s capital has endured late losses in five of their last six matches, with last year’s regular season champions holding on for dear life as they await to see how the cards lie at the end of York United’s match tonight.
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