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Valour FC in midst of extended break in action

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2019 (438 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Don't expect Valour FC head coach and general manager Rob Gale to send the Canadian Premier League's schedule maker a fruit basket with a thank you card any time soon.

After a gruelling five-games-in-16-days stretch to kick off their inaugural season, Winnipeg's soccer club — which sits at 2-3-0 after losing their last match 2-0 to Forge FC at home on May 16 — has two weeks off before they head west to take on FC Edmonton on June 1. It's not a league-wide rule for CPL teams to have two weeks off at some point during the season, but you wouldn't be crazy for assuming that after looking at Valour's schedule.

Valour FC Midfielder Dylan Sacramento, right, runs through drills during a team practice on Investors Group Field, Thursday.

SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Valour FC Midfielder Dylan Sacramento, right, runs through drills during a team practice on Investors Group Field, Thursday.

"It's not ever ideal to have five games in (16) days or two weeks off," Gale said prior to Valour's training session at IG Field on Thursday. "If we could've had five games in 30 days, it would've been lovely. Training is training. But players and coaches, we want the games. Two weeks off is a bit of a fallacy."

'It's not ever ideal to have five games in (16) days or two weeks off... Training is training. But players and coaches, we want the games. Two weeks off is a bit of a fallacy' — Rob Gale, FC Valour head coach and general manager

Although Valour didn't ask for the extended break, it might have come at the perfect time for them. Attacking midfielder Michael Petrasso, who was one of the team's most impressive players before he hurt a hamstring in a 1-0 loss to Cavalry FC on May 8, still isn't 100 per cent. He reinjured himself this week, but Gale expects him to be back to normal by the weekend.

Defender Adam Mitter separated a shoulder in a 1-0 home win against HFX Wanderers FC on May 11 and has been out of the lineup ever since. Gale confirmed on Thursday that Mitter is ahead of schedule and has been cleared for non-contact practise. They hope he's a full participant by next week.

Forward Stephen Hoyle, who scored the first goal in team history in the season opener, took a hit to the head in practice this week and is also sidelined, although Gale said they don't believe it's serious.

CSC opposition

Valour FC finally knows who their first opponent will be in the 2019 Canadian Soccer Championship.

The Winnipeg team had to wait and see who won the first-round matchup up between the Canadian Premier League's HFX Wanderers FC and the League1 Ontario champions, Vaughan Azzurri. The Wanderers won the first leg 3-2 on the road, before losing 1-0 at home on Wednesday night. The Halifax side advanced on away goals with a 3-3 aggregate score. Despite the loss, it was an impressive showing by Vaughan — a semi-pro team. Valour had a first-round bye.

Valour FC finally knows who their first opponent will be in the 2019 Canadian Soccer Championship.

The Winnipeg team had to wait and see who won the first-round matchup up between the Canadian Premier League's HFX Wanderers FC and the League1 Ontario champions, Vaughan Azzurri. The Wanderers won the first leg 3-2 on the road, before losing 1-0 at home on Wednesday night. The Halifax side advanced on away goals with a 3-3 aggregate score. Despite the loss, it was an impressive showing by Vaughan — a semi-pro team. Valour had a first-round bye.

"I played for Vaughan last year and I knew that team had a lot of quality," said Valour FC midfielder Dylan Sacramento. "I wasn't surprised they were close to beating Halifax. There's a lot of good players on that team. It's a semi-professional league. It's hard to stay completely serious and focused when you're not getting paid for that. I played with those guys last year and I think like five of the 11 starters are now in the CPL at different clubs."

Vaughan wasn't the only semi-pro team that gave a CPL squad a tough time in the first round. A.S. Blainville of the Première Ligue de soccer du Québec gave York9 FC all they could handle, losing 1-0 on aggregate after two matches.

"That's the beauty of the game," said Valour FC coach Rob Gale. "You got to perform on the day. It's 11 versus 11. It doesn't matter the size of the organization or the club or the history. There's a lot of Canadian talent out there. I was pleased for the guys at League1 Ontario and PSLQ that their top teams gave a good account of themselves."

The 2019 Canadian Championship features 13 teams from four leagues. All seven CPL teams are in the event, and so are the three Canadian Major League Soccer teams: Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Valour will play a home-and-away series with the HFX Wanderers. The first leg will be played June 5 in Halifax and the second leg takes place June 12 at IG Field. The winner will advance to play a USL Championship club, the Ottawa Fury, in the third round. Toronto FC is on the same side of the bracket as Valour, but they have a bye to the semifinal.

"Certainly for our supporters, we'd love to be able to bring TFC down here later in the season," Gale said.

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

And last, but definitely not least, veteran Croatian midfielder Josip Golubar went down with a knee injury in the Cavalry game. Gale confirmed the 34-year-old tore the ACL and is out for the season. Golubar, the oldest and most experienced player on the team, had surgery on Wednesday. Gale said the team knew the impact of the injury for a while, but they didn't want to say anything until their two-week break as they didn't want the injury to be a focus while the team was in the middle of their hectic game schedule.

"That's a big disappointment," Gale said.

"I think we have cover and we have quality. We have full trust in the 22 players we have. But the fact he has come from overseas, assimilated as well as he has into the community, and showed us on a daily basis the absolute quality he has. You saw in the first couple of games, he really controls the tempo of the game. Rarely gives the ball away. That level of experience is important for the young lads developing and the consistency. What we're going to make sure to do is work with him to get a full recovery. Keep him integrated into the group as much as he can and use his leadership qualities."

Winnipeg native and Valour midfielder Dylan Sacramento has moved to Golubar's spot in the midfield. Sacramento said he's built a close relationship with Golubar and he's learned a lot from the veteran.

"I missed six weeks of pre-season and during that I pretty much watched him the whole time," Sacramento said. "I just tried to learn little things from him and the style he plays. I did learn quite a bit of things, just small things that can help me. And playing with him, we started the first game together. He's an easy player to play with. You kind of miss that experience on the field a little bit."

While Valour FC will use the time before their next game to get used to playing without Golubar, they will also put a much-needed emphasis on improving their goal scoring. Valour has four goals in five games and only one in their last three. Dylan Carreiro came off the bench to score the game-winner in their season opener against Pacific FC on May 1, but since then, none of the seven homegrown attacking players have been able to find the back of the net. None have scored in three matches at IG Field, either. But Sacramento said that isn't something the Winnipeg players, or any of the guys on the team, are worried about or focused on.

"I think it's going to take time. Right now, we're just maybe shooting when we can make the pass, or dribbling when we can make a pass, or passing when we should shoot," Sacramento said.

"I think it's just a matter of figuring those things out and being more clinical and working as a team. I wouldn't say it's just the Winnipeg guys. I think everyone on the team wants to be scoring goals and helping the team. It's going to come with time."

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

Read full biography

History

Updated on Friday, May 24, 2019 at 12:08 AM CDT: Fixes typos.

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