Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos González isn’t being brought back to use the same tactics as previous seasons.
The Canadian Premier League club appears to be pivoting to an approach which features much more offence and possession. Aboubacar Sissoko is the perfect signing for their changing brand of soccer, and on Wednesday, they announced that he’s linking up with the Capital City side.
“Sissoko is a player who fits perfectly with the characteristics we are looking for as a team,” González said. “Energy and box-to-box ability, natural talent, and the mentality of a great competitor.”
That last trait certainly comes in part from his last club, Forge. Sissoko’s two seasons in orange and black saw the Hamiltonians claim the CPL championship twice, the first of which in the nation’s capital against Atléti. Throughout his tenure in orange and grey, Sissoko could consistently be pencilled in on the teamsheet and be tabbed as one of Forge’s top performers.
What sets Sissoko apart is his versatility. While he is often described as a midfielder, his role often looks more like that of an inverted fullback. He is a fixture of the right flank but isn’t shy to move inside if that’s desired. Sissoko’s offensive instincts, and ability to bomb forward and move with the ball, are attributes that Ottawa could use.
Forge typically played a back three last season, which bumped Sissoko up. Ottawa will likely opt for four defenders, so Sissoko might have to embrace a somewhat new position. Still, his drive and style of play are desperately needed at TD Place as the offence needed plenty of help. By signing Sissoko and Matteo de Brienne, Ottawa now employs two of the best wing players who can play well at both ends of the pitch.
CEO Fernando Lopez has acquired a star assembly not yet seen in Canadian Premier League history. Extremely lofty expectations await for what might be the league’s first true “super team,” although Forge FC might challenge that tag if it gets thrown around.
Ryan Telfer fills the Halifax Wanderers’ forward gap
Patrice Gheisar had an interesting problem last year: even though many players from a variety of positions on his Halifax Wanderers squad were scoring, the strikers just couldn’t find form. It certainly didn’t help that Théo Collomb, no longer in Nova Scotia, kept picking up injuries. Furthermore, rookie Tiago Coimbra had problems connecting with teammates to find the back of the net.
Enter the scorer of the first goal in CPL history, Ryan Telfer. Halifax went to market and came back with the Trinidad & Tobago international, who plied his trade in Canada’s top flight for York and Ottawa. Additionally, he came through the Toronto FC system and made a handful of appearances for the first team, but most recently donned the colours of Miami FC in the USL Championship.
There, he scored five goals and added an assist in 30 appearances. Those numbers aren’t exactly flattering, though it must be considered that he was playing in new positions across the attack, and wasn’t necessarily asked to score in bunches.
Halifax is bringing him on board because of the power in the left boot, and the terror that foot has exacted on CPL defences in the past. Long range, short range, however you like goals to be tallied, Telfer was able to do that for York back in 2019. He’s keen to get back to the top, and Halifax is a great option. It helps that another member of the Soca Warriors, captain Andre Rampersad, wears Halifax blue.
“I’ve been interested in joining the Wanderers for a long time, going back to the start of the CPL, so I’m excited it’s finally happening,” said Telfer in a club statement. “I’m looking forward to playing in Canada again and being on a team that is playing an exciting brand of football.”
Telfer mentioned the atmosphere in Halifax as another big selling point, although it remains to be seen if ‘the Kitchen’ sends love to their new signing: in the past, he has shushed them and the club after scoring.
Regardless, Halifax’s pursuit of another strong season appears to be on the right track.