Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/11/2021 (235 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
IT’S been a tumultuous season for Moses Dyer.
He played the entire 2021 Canadian Premier League season under some form of pandemic health restrictions, then navigated a coaching change and a mid-season position change before Valour FC was eliminated from playoff contention.
Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Edmonton FC relegated the Winnipeg side to a tie for a fifth place, one spot out of the post-season.
Still, there were positives for the 24-year-old New Zealander, who joined the CPL club in 2020. He wrapped up 2021 as Valour’s top scorer with nine goals during the 28-game season.
Six of those goals came in the 10 games after Phillip Dos Santos replaced Rob Gale as head coach on Sept. 23.
"It’s the first season I’ve had where I haven’t even missed a single training with a knock or an injury," said Dyer Monday. "I’ve been fully fit the whole season and the whole pre-season. The past off-season, I worked a lot on my strength and my body and then pre-season I continued it.
"Usually what I do is, because pre-season is so intense with fitness running, I slow down on the gym work because I’m just so tired. But this time I just pushed the work and suffered a little bit, but in the end it really helped me because my legs (and) my body were just so strong the whole season."
Dyer, who is not under contract for next season, was a revelation after moving from midfielder to striker, a change initiated by Dos Santos. Dos Santos also moved William Akio from striker to right wing with similar impact. Akio was second in club scoring with eight goals.
"Going forward I’ll probably play striker now," said Dyer. "The thing is, I love the ball so much that I still getting used to the role. I have a lot of midfield tendencies — like coming too deep and trying to play the ball too wide a bit too much. I just like being on the ball but I need to realize some games that’s just not gonna happen. I’ve still got a lot to learn."
Dyer would not comment on his current contract situation but he plans to travel to Toronto to visit relatives later this month before returning home to his home in Auckland for the remainder of the off-season.
"We think that continuity is important and it’s hard to find players who could score and give you goals and and have the quality Dyer has," said Dos Santos, noting Valour holds a club option on Dyer and Akio. "So for sure he’s someone we would like to see back here and we’re working hard to make sure that happen."
Dyer is hoping his latest exploits will result in a recall by his country’s national side. It’s something he hasn’t done that since scoring the winning goal against India at the Intercontinental Cup on June 7, 2018.
Valour put on a late surge in 2021, going 3-4-3 with Des Santos at the helm, including a pair of wins and a draw to close the season.
"We didn’t have time to be sad or anything," said Dyer of the coaching change. "He came in and he changed a lot of things straightaway -- like our style of play, our formation and sticking to one formation, which was good especially with the amount of games we had. (Under Gale), one week we’d play 3-5-2 and the next week we’d play 4-3-3. We’d always be changing the formation and the personnel. I think keeping it more consistent helped a lot."
Valour has re-signed centre back Andrew Jean-Baptiste, the club’s top player before a torn ACL in his right knee ended his season in late July.
Other personnel decisions are to come, including the status of five players who were on loan to Valour, including defender Rocco Romeo (Toronto FC), goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois (CF Montreal), defender Rodrigo Reyes (CD Guadalajara), winger Jared Ulloa (Sporting Cristal) and forward Sean Rea (CF Montreal).
Sirois had an excellent year, leading the CPL in shutouts (nine) and saves (94) while finishing third among goalies in appearances (24) and minutes (2,160). But his playing status is unclear.
"We would obviously like to have him back..." said Dos Santos. "But it’s one of those tricky ones where, (CF Montreal) is gonna bring (him) back to pre-season and then they’ll be able to make a firm decision on where he would fit in their plans.
"Now if they’re able to tell me, ‘Look 90 per cent he would be available but there’s still a 10 per cent chance he won’t,’ then as a coach I need to make decisions on what’s best for the club. I can’t find myself in February or March scrambling for a guy at the level of Jo."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.