ATLETICO OTTAWA HIRES COACH: ‘Ambitious’ Carlos Gonzalez promises high work ethic from team


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While he may not be well known in Canadian soccer circles, new Atletico Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez has been quietly establishing a reputation within the global Atletico organization.

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Gonzalez was announced as the Ottawa club’s new head coach Thursday. A 35-year-old born in Grenada, the Spaniard has been given a two-year contract. Former coach Mista was not brought back for a third season after Atletico Ottawa finished last in the eight-team Canadian Premier League last season, with a record of 6-14-8.

Gonzalez began coaching with the youth programs at the Malaga Club de Futbol in 2012, before joining the Atletico de Madrid organization in 2015. He proved his potential growing through the ranks of youth programs at Atletico before being entrusted with the U19 team head coaching role in 2018. In 2020, González was appointed head coach of the U23 national team in Kuwait, where he led the team to its first Asian Cup qualification in 10 years. He has coached the senior national team in three AFC Cup matches, earning two wins and a draw.

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“I’m very ambitious,” said Gonzalez. “I want to have different experiences that help me grow and take me out of my comfort area. The Kuwait opportunity came along and I wanted to take another step in my career. I thought it would be a good experience, not only for my coaching, but for my life – a different culture, different language, different everything. It was great for my development. The year and a half gave me another perspective on football. I’m a more complete coach than before.

“At this point in my career, I wanted to come back to club football. Coaching a national team is very different from club football. You have to be very precise with player selection and always make sure you get the most of them for each moment. You do not get to work with them as much. Working with a club, you have time to prepare and build the team with a specific idea. As a young coach, I missed the daily training with the players, developing the players. Once you work with a national team, you don’t have that opportunity. It’s more office work, you have to scout. You’re only coaching the team in certain moments of the season.”

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“I started coaching because my talent as a player was not good enough,” said González with a laugh when asked about his soccer journey. “I liked soccer, I studied sports sciences. This is what I am passionate about and what I do with my heart.”

Asked about what kind of team he wanted to have in Ottawa, he said: “I’m an ambitious coach. I like to think big. I’m very demanding – first with myself, then with the staff that will be with me, then with the players. We are going to work very hard with the players. We are going to try and create a high work ethic that I think is very important for everything in life. I’ve been evolving and developing as a coach. We have to control different styles for different moments. We are going to have a competitive team that feels comfortable with the ball, feels comfortable without the ball, feels comfortable in high pressure and feels comfortable being more calm. We have to try to be a more complete team so we are able to win against anyone. We’ll go day by day, game by game, week by week. In the last month of the season, we will see what we are fighting for.”

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Gonzalez will bring with him two trusted technical staff members. David Galan will serve as assistant coach and physical preparation lead and Borja Montero will be the goalkeeper coach. Both men were part of Gonzalez’ staff in Kuwait.

Asked about deciding to take on a new opportunity in Ottawa, Gonzalez said: “All the information coming to me about Atletico Ottawa was very good. This is an ambitious project. It’s what I was looking for – a project that could help me improve and grow as a coach and we could grow together. The years with Atletico de Madrid were so important for my career. Those five years were the years that made the difference in my career. I smile when I remember them. I really liked to live in Madrid, I really liked the city, I really liked the club and its way of thinking. I’m happy now to be with Atletico and to be in Ottawa.”

Atletico Ottawa flies out to Spain on Saturday and will officially begin its pre-season training camp Monday. The team will spend four weeks in Spain, with two-a-day sessions and a few test matches, before returning to Ottawa March 26 to finalize its preparation. Atletico Ottawa opens its season at TD Place April 9.

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