York United FC keep momentum with important home win

Nine stripes still in the fight for a place in playoffs

York United FC players celebrate a goal at York Lions Stadium
Diyaeddine Abzi (left) and Alvaro Rivero (right) celebrate the goal scored by the former against Atlético Ottawa. York United FC/David Chant

It was a happy return to the York Lions Stadium on Tuesday night as York United FC earned three very important points against Atlético Ottawa with a 2-0 win following four Canadian Premier League (CPL) games on the road.

Even though the Nine Stripes dominated most of the first half, it was only shortly after the break that left back Diyaeddine Abzi was able to find the back of the net, with Colombian midfielder Sebastian Gutierrez scoring the clinching goal right before the 70-minute mark.

Coach Jimmy Brennan was happy with the performance.

“We managed them (Ottawa) right, the guys did a great job,” said Brennan, in the post-match presser. “We slowed the game when we had to, we protected it better than in the game against Forge, and we ended up winning very important points that help us keep up momentum.”

With this victory the home team is on 25 points during the 2021 season, currently placing fourth in the CPL standings, and putting pressure over Valour FC on the fight for that final playoff spot.

York United now have an unbeaten streak of four games (two draws and two wins), getting important victories against Forge FC and now Atlético, a club Brennan’s team was unable to defeat previously on the tournament. Both of their earlier encounters ended up with draws.

This was a factor that added a bit of pressure to United’ squad prior to the game, as they could not afford to give up more points against a team that is at the bottom of the table.

By the end of the scoreless first half, the faces of the players and the coaching staff showed a clear discontent, as it looked like the ball was refusing to cross the goal line for York. It wasn’t until the clock hit the 52nd minute that Alvaro Rivero found Abzi with a pass inside the box so the defender could finally break the tie in favour of the home team.

Having the advantage allowed the locals to move their lines forward with a bit more confidence, having their centre backs positioned at the centre of the pitch at various points of the second half.

With half an hour left, coach Brennan started to refresh the squad which has been exposed to many consecutive games in the last couple of weeks. It was then that Gutierrez came in for Michael Petrasso, and only three minutes later he nutmegged Nyal Higgins to leave himself in front of goalkeeper Dylon Powley to score the second one.

This was the first goal for the 23-year-old since he signed for the team in December of 2020, an achievement that will help him on his adaptation after having to go through a lot to joined York, according to Brennan.

“Having to adapt to a new city, after being in quarantine for 14 days is not an easy thing to do,” said United’s manager. “That is why we are trying to give him minutes at every game we can, so he can find the best version of himself and don’t break in the process. Tonight he showed what he is capable of, and we hope he follows that path moving forward.”

The Nine Stripes will remain at home for their next four CPL games, being HFX Wanderers their next rival on Saturday. However, they will visit BMO Field on Sept. 22 to face Toronto FC for the quarter finals of the Canadian Championship.

Meanwhile, the club owned by LaLiga’s Atlético Madrid, will visit Pacific Football Club at Westhill Stadium on Sunday, looking to finish their streak of eight consecutive matches without a victory.

NOTES: Atlético Ottawa finished the game with 10 men, after Nyal Higgins was sent off at the 94th minute following his second yellow card of the night … York has 10 games remaining on the schedule.

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Posted: Sep 15 2021 11:34 am
Filed under: Soccer Sports