Atlético flips the script
Avenge blowout loss to Valour with late goal to earn victory
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You didn’t want to blink back on April 24 when Valour FC visited Atlético Ottawa.
If you did, chances are you missed a goal as the Winnipeg side set a franchise record for offensive output in a 6-1 victory.
The second meeting between the two teams, Wednesday night at IG Field, was a completely different story. You could’ve brought a pillow and a blanket to the stadium and slept the for first 83 minutes without missing a thing. All signs pointed to the game ending in a scoreless draw until a costly turnover by Valour in their own end led to Ottawa’s Zachary Verhoven blasting a shot past goalie Rayane Yesli in 84th minute. With the 1-0 loss, Valour drops to 2-4-3 on the year while Ottawa leaves with a 4-3-2 record.
“Unfortunately, I think our final product wasn’t there. And when that happens time and time again throughout the game when you can’t get that final piece going, you leave yourself susceptible at the back,” said midfielder Brett Levis.
“But it’s a tough one. I feel like we’ve just given up way too many points late in games so far this year. It’s still very early, but I think we all just got to look at ourselves and figure out what’s going on.”
Valour didn’t look anything like the team that impressed on the weekend with a 2-2 tie in enemy territory against Pacific FC, the reigning Canadian Premier League champions. Their best chance on Wednesday came in the 67th minute after some nice passing set up attacking midfielder Sean Rea with a solid chance just outside of the box, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. Valour managed to get the ball past the goal line in the 95th minute when defender Rocco Romeo bulldozed Ottawa goalkeeper Nathan Ingham, but the goal was, obviously, quickly waved off and Romeo was handed a yellow card.
It was a quick turnaround from Saturday, but Valour head coach Phillip Dos Santos doesn’t view that as a reason for his team’s lacklustre play.
“People have to stop talking about that. And when I say people, I’m talking about everyone,” said Dos Santos.
“A lot of times, I hear that from not only media, but also players saying ‘Ah, you know, it’s a Wednesday game,’ this early in the season. These players are playing around 34-35 games. If you go and just look at what the top level calendar looks like, and again, we’re gonna say the tools for recovery and travel (are better), but this early in the season, I don’t think it’s a factor. The guys had over 72 hours to recover.”
Valour won the possession battle at 55 per cent but only managed one shot on target for a 16.7 per cent shooting accuracy. Valour has only managed one goal in three home matches this season.
‘“It’s still early. As you see, we impose ourselves. We have an identity, we have a structure that we play within and today could’ve went either way,” Levis said.
“We had plenty of chances and if our final product was a little bit better, it could’ve went the other way. These are the margins involved in soccer. Good thing we have three quarters of the season left. So, we’re just going to build on this.”
For Ottawa, stealing three points in Winnipeg was the ideal way to make up for their dreadful first game against Valour.
“It was obviously weighing on our mind. We didn’t really play our game that day and they exploited us,” said Ottawa midfielder Carl Haworth. “…We knew we had to tighten things up, take the space away from behind, and play a tighter, more compact game and yeah, it was a perfect away performance.”
Starting goalie Jonathan Sirois was given the night off for Valour in favour of 22-year-old Yesli who was making his first career CPL start. The Montreal product and former A.S. Blainville keeper wasn’t perfect but made three saves and didn’t make any huge mistakes.
“Yesli needs games. I feel that he manages the game well but is a little bit more inconsistent with little details. But he needs to play. He needs to find games, and he will,” Dos Santos said.
“We all know (what we have) in Jonathan, but we need to also see what we have in our group. I always say Rayane has the potential to be the No. 1 for this club and the only way for us to see that isn’t always going to be through training. So, when there’s windows where we have a chance to play him when games are coming fast, I think it’s something that we need to do.”
Winnipeg’s professional soccer club is hoping a pair of players from Colombia can give them a boost for the rest of the way. Midfielder Daniel Ascanio, who was signed in the off-season but was having visa issues, finally arrived at the beginning of the week. Ascanio’s countryman and fellow midfielder, Kevin Rendón, was signed on Tuesday and will fly in next week. Rendón, 29, joins Valour from Colombia’s top-flight professional league where he totalled four goals, one assist, 1,358 minutes played and 23 appearances.
Valour, who sit in fifth place in the standings, will stick around town to host FC Edmonton on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...