August 17, 2019

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Valour stays the course despite lack of offensive production

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Valour FC Jordan Murrell goes for a header during practice.</p>

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

Valour FC Jordan Murrell goes for a header during practice.

Valour FC has won the possession battle in five out of their seven matches, but you would never guess that by looking at their offensive production.

Winnipeg's professional soccer team hasn't scored more than one goal in a game since their Canadian Premier League season opener on May 1, when they beat Pacific FC 2-1 on the road. In the six games since — including last week's 2-1 loss in the first leg of their Canadian Championship second-round qualifying matchup against HFX Wanderers FC — Valour FC has only found the back of the net four times and has an overall record of 3-4-0 between league play and cup competition.

So, with that said, should Valour consider shifting away from their possession style of play to something a bit more aggressive?

"Absolutely not," said Valour FC head coach and general manager Rob Gale prior to Tuesday afternoon's training session at IG Field.

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Valour FC has won the possession battle in five out of their seven matches, but you would never guess that by looking at their offensive production.

Winnipeg's professional soccer team hasn't scored more than one goal in a game since their Canadian Premier League season opener on May 1, when they beat Pacific FC 2-1 on the road. In the six games since — including last week's 2-1 loss in the first leg of their Canadian Championship second-round qualifying matchup against HFX Wanderers FC — Valour FC has only found the back of the net four times and has an overall record of 3-4-0 between league play and cup competition.

So, with that said, should Valour consider shifting away from their possession style of play to something a bit more aggressive?

"Absolutely not," said Valour FC head coach and general manager Rob Gale prior to Tuesday afternoon's training session at IG Field.

"Being authentic to me, the players we brought in and the style. I think Pep Guardiola (Manchester City manager), when he came to England, got the same question and he's done all right since. It's a philosophy, it's a style of play, it's a brand, it's a culture, it's what I’m about as a football team. I've said I'm a fan of this team. I want us to play football the right way to bring supporters to the game. (If you want) to watch rubbish football, go somewhere else. Go watch pub football. I've got players that have the ability of Marco (Bustos) sitting here to go play high levels in Europe or MLS. They're talented footballers. They enjoy the style of play. We want to exhibit their talents and bring the best out of them to get them on to the next levels,and there's only one way to do that and that's a proper brand of football. You won't see us change."

Their style will remain the same, but Valour FC will hope for a change in results when they welcome the Wanderers to IG Field tonnight at 7:30 p.m. for the second and final leg of their Canadian Championship series. They will need to make up for their 2-1 defeat in the first leg, a game in which Valour had possession for 57.8 per cent of the game.

The United Soccer League's Ottawa Fury will play the winner in the third round.

Gale didn't shy away when asked if this is the most important game in Valour's early history.

"Yeah, I think that's a fair assessment, given the magnitude of the tournament, the history of it and the importance of it to the Canadian supporters over the years as well," Gale said.

Valour still finds themselves in a decent position to advance thanks to a goal from Bustos in the first leg. He was set up by fellow Winnipegger Dylan Sacramento in the box and Bustos' shot deflected off of a defender and into the back of the net.

Bustos isn't ready for Valour to be sent home from the Canadian Championship early. He said he and his teammates have talked about what it would mean to go on a big run at the tournament and play Major League Soccer's Toronto FC in the semifinal. But with that said, they're not overlooking Halifax and Bustos said they're approaching tonight's match like any other game.

"I think when we get our chances, we just have to hit the frame. And that's where it starts, hit the frame. Maybe the goalie makes a good save. But you know, even movement off the ball, it's getting better each game that I've been here. It's getting better," said the 23-year-old Bustos, who signed with the club a couple games into the season. "And hopefully on Wednesday we put it in the net because that's what we're going to have to do to win the game."

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.

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