It was quite a day for Atlético Ottawa fans as from 9am to 2pm the team announced a new signing every hour. After finishing dead last in 2021, Ottawa had some serious work to do on their hands. Atlético Ottawa decided to focus on the defence and midfield and brought in superb talent to immediately help bolster the side. Without further ado, here is what went down today.
9am – MacDonald Niba
Atlético Ottawa started bright and early with the signing of Niba Macdonald (goes by Niba). Niba is a Cameroonian center back who brings much-needed help to the defence. Niba first played in League1 Ontario back in 2016 with the North Toronto Nitros where he was named a mid-season All-Star, and was named to the to the year-end League1 Ontario All-Star Team. He was also named Defender of the Year. One can expect hard-nosed tackles and no-nonsense clearances while forming a great partnership with Drew Beckie. Niba signed a two-year contract with Ottawa and is a Permanent Resident of Canada meaning that he will not count towards the foreign player limit.
10am – Zakaria Bahous
Zakaria Bahous was probably the most underrated signing of the day just due to the sheer amount of signings. Bahous who was born in 2001, has been playing in the PLSQ since 2016 and was named the 2021 CCAA Men’s soccer player of the year. Based on the highlights that are out there, Bahous likes to play in a central role with balls running through him. People who are familiar with him have said that they can see him turning into a CAM. However, because of his size and technical skill on the ball, if needed ATO can mold him into a physical CDM to help dominate the midfield.
Another interesting point is that Bahous played with CS Longleuil in the PSLQ, which is the same club that Ottawa draft pick Julien Bruce played with. This could possibly lead to some familiar chemistry on the pitch. Bahous signed a two-year contract with an option for 2024.
11am – Ollie Bassett
Atlético Ottawa kept the train rolling with their third announcement of the day. Ollie Bassett was rumoured to be coming to Ottawa weeks ago and today the team made it official. Bassett arrives from the current Canadian Premier League champions Pacific and provides an immediate offensive threat. Bassett who had two goals and three assists in 20 appearances last season will slot into the CAM role. Fans should expect direct play through the middle of the field with Bassett sending either the wings or striker onto some gorgeous balls. The former Aston Villa Academy player has been signed to a two-year contract + an option for an extra year.
12pm – Nate Ingham
With Dylon Powley not returning for the 2022 season, there was a large gap between the pipes. Nate Ingham has been signed to a two-year contract after spending three seasons with York United. Ingham has totaled 17 clean sheets in 62 games and last season was fourth in the league with 74 saves made in 22 appearances. Ingham brings stability and secureness as the last man back and will be looking to build a strong chemistry with his defensive partners.
1pm – Keven Alemán
Keven Alemán will join Bassett in the midfield as a one-two punch. These two players are very similar and complement each other in a way that will drive opponents insane. Alemán, like Bassett has the technical abilities to spring a teammate through on goal while also providing some grit in the midfield. Alemán had three goals and four assists in 24 appearances for Valour FC and has signed to a one-year contract with an option for another year.
2pm – Maxim Tissot
The last signing of the day saw Atlético Ottawa bring back a local talent who happened to play for the Ottawa Fury. Aylmer native Maxim Tissot has made his return to the capital by signing a one-year contract with an option for a second year. Tissot who is listed as a defender has the versatility to move into the midfield thanks to his technical skills on the ball. An experienced veteran of the game who didn’t see much playing time will look to enter a leadership role in Ottawa while clocking solid minutes.
After going weeks without hearing any news from the club, fans were treated to a six hour extravaganza, but what can we expect from these signings? The signings of Niba and Tissot make me believe that the team might be switching to a more traditional back four with Beckie and Niba holding down the center and Acosta and Tissot playing on the flanks. This would then push Verhoven out wide, where he can use his pace to create opportunities. The seven re-signings and today’s six signings make me believe that there will be a huge emphasis on controlling the midfield both on attack and defence and I expect we see a variety of formations that include these players throughout the season. With only 10 players signed and around 13 more to go, Ottawa has already started developing the style of game they want to play. They have decided to focus and centralize their attention on players who understand the Canadian game and how to be successful in it. I expect the rest of the signings to be players who compliment this core sort of like icing on the cake.
Today was a massive day for Atlético Ottawa and without making too many early takes, I expect them to surprise a lot of teams this season.