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José Galán has played in a dozen countries in his 15-year pro soccer career but suffered his worst defeat in Winnipeg, of all places, last September.
Home-pitch advantage meant nothing as Valour FC was hammered 8-0 by Cavalry FC at IG Field. With a result like that, it's no surprise Galán, 34, a midfielder from Spain, is one of only seven players returning from the 2019 team.
"In my career, I've never lost more than 3-0, so losing by eight goals, it was tough. It was very difficult...," he said Wednesday, in a phone interview. "After that loss, everybody underestimated us and lost respect for us."
Cavalry, who ended up losing last season's Canadian Premier League final to Forge FC, gave Valour problems all year long. In four matches with the Winnipeg club, Cavalry went 3-1-0. But Valour will have a chance to flip the script on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT at the University of Prince Edward Island when they kick off the 2020 campaign with a match against Cavalry.
Owing to the pandemic, the eight-team league was forced to replace its season with a single-site tournament in Charlottetown. The tournament, dubbed 'The Island Games', begins today with Cavalry squaring off against Forge. All eight clubs play each other once, with the top four advancing to the second stage. The top-two teams in the second stage play the championship final in September.
"In my case, I can't find another team that I'm more motivated to play against than Cavalry." – Midfielder José Galán
"In my case, I can't find another team that I'm more motivated to play against than Cavalry," said Galán. "It's something we have to put away. At least for me, I really, really need that revenge. We have a chance now. We can't see it as a difficult thing. It's a good chance for revenge."
Valour head coach Rob Gale is looking at the match differently.
"It just means three points, mate. Nothing else. It's as simple as that," Gale said. "There are only seven games. We know we're a new team, so we're trying to get off to a good start and try to get into our rhythm of play, really, which I think is the main thing. We haven't had any exhibition games so our first exhibition game is the first game of the tournament."
Valour landed in Charlottetown on Saturday and gets a full week to adjust to life in a bubble. The participating clubs are staying in the same hotel and using the same field for training.
Gale said you'd never be able to tell, as they've all been given different meal and training times. "You know what, it's been really good. Very well thought out. Very well organized.
"The attention to detail from the charter flights, to the airport, to the bags arriving, to getting to the hotel rooms, to the testing, to coming down for meals, there's absolutely minimal interaction amongst the teams and any of the hotel staff. It's very well done."
The teams will also have to get used to playing the majority of matches during the day. In Valour's case, all seven of their matches, including weekday games, will be played in the afternoon. All matches will be streamed on OneSoccer. CBC will air two matches every Saturday during the first stage.
"We know we're a new team, so we're trying to get off to a good start and try to get into our rhythm of play, really, which I think is the main thing." – Head coach Rob Gale
Gale won't try to predict how his new-look squad will fare in the tournament.
"Obviously we didn't build a team for a seven-game tournament or an 11-game tournament. We're building a football club here, like I've said many times before," Gale said.
"Have we improved from last year with the quality of players? Yes. Quality of people in the room? Experience? Learned lessons from the first year? Yes. (But) what will happen in the tournament, I couldn't tell you."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
Updated on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT: Fixes typo.
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