OTTAWA, ON. – On Feb. 11, Atlético Ottawa was officially introduced as the eight Canadian Premier League (CPL) team. They are also the first-ever expansion team to be introduced in the CPL. Lastly, Atlético Ottawa will be owned by Atlético Madrid. This is the first foreign ownership in CPL’s short history. David Clanachan, in particular, seemed very excited according to the Ottawa Sun.
Atlético Ottawa Formally Introduced as Eighth CPL Team
“I can tell you right now, Ottawa has won the lottery today,” CPL commissioner David Clanachan said. “This is an organization that has 116 years of history playing football globally. It can’t get any better than that.”
This article will look briefly at the press conference of Atlético Ottawa, and what people can expect in the future. To get more detail about the formation of Atlético Ottawa read this previous article.
The first thing that will be looked at is the new manager in the nation’s capital. His name is Miguel Ángel Ferrer Martínez or as TFC fans know him as Mista.
Miguel Ángel Ferrer Martínez – Atlético Ottawa
Mista has played at the highest level in Spain for many years including his time with Valencia and with Atlético Madrid as a player. He ended his playing career in 2010 with Toronto FC.
Recently, he has been training himself to be a head coach. He reveals in more detail his coaching experience to One Soccer.
“I trained as a coach in the Spanish Federation and then in Valencia and before arriving here, I was coaching the U19 Rayo Vallecano team. For me, it’s a big step up to coach in the first-tier and a wonderful opportunity.”
His experience from Spain will bring a lot to the CPL. He will be hoping Atlético Madrid’s DNA will help Atlético Ottawa excel.
Atlético Madrid DNA
Mista talked about wanting to incorporate the DNA of Atlético Madrid. He wants to accomplish this and improve local talent in Ottawa. He explains more to One Soccer.
Lastly, he talked about what the roster would look like heading into their first-ever CPL season:
“We are still building the team, the majority of players will obviously be from Canada, because we think it’s best for the team, and then we will bring some players from other parts of the world to add a variety of skills to the level of play.”
Mista mentioned that this team will have Atlético Madrid’s DNA and that most of the players will be Canadian. Fernando Lopez, who will oversee the operations of Atlético Ottawa is particularly interested.
Lopez will oversee the operations of Atlético Ottawa. He answered a question about a possible academy team in the nation’s capital. This is what he said according to One Soccer:
This quote is very significant and is a huge boost to the CPL. There are academies in the three Canadian MLS markets, but only one currently one in CPL, FC Edmonton, which has been around since 2010. It would also mean five of the six biggest markets in Canada would have academies. The only notable exception would be Calgary, the fourth largest city in Canada.
Lopez also talks about wanting to create a connection between Atlético Ottawa and Atlético Madrid:
He further explains to One Soccer how Atlético Ottawa will do this, with possible friendlies with Atlético Madrid:
“We wanted to… we are trying to bring the team to Spain, to create that bond and that connection from the very first day with Atlético Madrid. To play like a friendly with our team at the first team.”
This would be big for the nation’s capital. Atlético Ottawa could be a gateway for many Canadians to La Liga. The Ottawa players would also have the first-hand experience of how skilled the players are first-hand in Europe with Atlético Madrid.
What seems even more exciting is their plan to increase interest in Ottawa. Jeff Hunt, president of Atlético Ottawa, has big ambitions.
Hunt talks about his ambitions with the club and where he wants to take Ottawa to One Soccer:
It should not surprise anyone that Atlético Ottawa wants to win. A lot of teams in the CPL’s goal is to win the trophy this year and dethrone Forge FC. What is surprising is what he said about attendance. This article will not look at the attendance in the USL Championship as they were playing against farm teams from MLS. They were also affiliated with the Montreal Impact for the last few years of their existence.
The attendance of the now-defunct North American Soccer League (NASL) is more relevant. The league was built with hopes to be like Major League Soccer (MLS). They also had teams with big budgets like the New York Cosmos and Miami FC.
Their only Canadian rival in the NASL was FC Edmonton, who is now in the CPL. Ottawa Fury FC was also a standalone team, which gives a better indication of their attendance.
The last time Ottawa Fury FC was in the NASL was 2016. According to Soccer Stadium Digest, their attendance was 5,521 people per game. The team with the highest attendance last year in the CPL was 6,588 according to the Northern Tribune. This was accomplished by defending CPL champion Forge FC (Hamilton). If Hunt can accomplish his goal this year, they will need to draw more than 1,000 more fans than Ottawa Fury FC did in 2016.
It is an ambitious goal, but one that can be accomplished. The brand of Atlético Madrid will certainly excite fans in Ottawa and bring them to the stadium. Furthermore, facing only Canadian teams in the CPL will help develop rivalries across the country including Hamilton and the York Region.
The last point to talk about is Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, CEO of Atlético Madrid. He talked about the possibility of working with boys and girls in Ottawa. He also talked about the possibility of the Canadian Women’s National Team facing the Spanish Women’s National Team.
Miguel Ángel Gil Marín
Marin is very interested in having good coaches in the CPL. He is looking at getting high-level coaches in Canada. Marin said this in a One Soccer interview:
He later stated some of these high-level coaches could be used to coach the kids in Ottawa. This would be a big plus in a developing soccer nation in the nation’s capital. This furthers Lopez’s point about wanting to develop talent in Ottawa. This includes boys and girls. Lastly, Marin talks about the success of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team.
“We would like to tour with girls as well. The idea is to I was talking before with the Canadian Federation circuit of Jeanette as general secretary and the idea is to to exchange experience with girls Canadian national team ladies is very very strong and I would like to to bring to Spain some of the high talent player and I arranged a commitment to work with the Spanish Federation to play match between Spanish national team against the Canadian national team in ladies.”
An exhibition between both the Spanish and Canadian Women’s Soccer team will be beneficial for both programs. Especially true for the Canadian Women’s program as they get more friendlies with the meaningful competition.
When looking at the long-term, this could mean an Atlético Ottawa team in the women’s division of the Canadian Premier League. The CPL has never shied away from wanting a women’s division. Furthermore, Atlético Madrid Femenino has a professional women’s soccer team, winning the last three championships in the Primera División, the local league in Spain.
Last Word: Overview of Atlético Ottawa
These are exciting times for Ottawa and the Canadian Premier League. Never thought there would be a day that the CPL would be able to secure such a big team like Atlético Madrid so early on to the league’s existence. It shows promising signs that the CPL is indeed heading in the right direction.
Lastly, Atlético Ottawa has really shown great interest in the CPL and are all in. They seem very excited about the opportunity to invest and grow Canadian soccer for years and decades to come. This is especially with the increased sports competition in Ottawa, which can be read in this previous article.