April 25, 2019

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Valour takes on former MLS player

Petrasso working to regain form

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Newly signed Valour midfielder Michael Petrasso works out during Monday’s practice at the Subway South Soccer Complex.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Newly signed Valour midfielder Michael Petrasso works out during Monday’s practice at the Subway South Soccer Complex.

He used to make a living by trying to slow down some of the best strikers in Major League Soccer. Now, Michael Petrasso finds himself in Winnipeg with Valour FC in hopes of getting his career back on track.

Valour FC announced on Monday the signing of Toronto-born Petrasso to a one-year contract. The 23-year-old previously played for the Montreal Impact of the MLS, where he made 14 appearances in 2018.

“It was a good experience for me,” Petrasso said. “And, obviously, the MLS is a big league. I was happy to play there. I played against some big players, so that’s obviously good experience.”

Unfortunately for Petrasso, he went from trying to prevent superstars such as Sebastian Giovinco, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from scoring goals, to sitting on the bench. When the Impact brought in former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna midway through the 2018 season, Petrasso never found his way back into the lineup.

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He used to make a living by trying to slow down some of the best strikers in Major League Soccer. Now, Michael Petrasso finds himself in Winnipeg with Valour FC in hopes of getting his career back on track.

Valour FC announced on Monday the signing of Toronto-born Petrasso to a one-year contract. The 23-year-old previously played for the Montreal Impact of the MLS, where he made 14 appearances in 2018.

"It was a good experience for me," Petrasso said. "And, obviously, the MLS is a big league. I was happy to play there. I played against some big players, so that’s obviously good experience."

Unfortunately for Petrasso, he went from trying to prevent superstars such as Sebastian Giovinco, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from scoring goals, to sitting on the bench. When the Impact brought in former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna midway through the 2018 season, Petrasso never found his way back into the lineup.

This past August, the Impact loaned Petrasso to the Ottawa Fury of the United Soccer League for the remainder of the season. He never got to suit up for the team, as he was shut down for the remainder of the season because he needed surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.

"When I went to Ottawa on loan, I went there obviously to go play," Petrasso said.

"But after two training sessions on the turf, it had a major effect on my back, even more. I didn’t get the opportunity to play for the club because I had to come back and prepare for an operation to fix it, because over time it kept getting worse and worse to the point where my left leg wouldn’t move, as well. Coaches and everyone could see I was limping on the field. I needed to sort that out before I could start playing and progressing again."

Petrasso hasn’t played anywhere since. While rehabbing from injury, Petrasso was contacted by Valour FC head coach and general manager Rob Gale about joining the team for the inaugural Canadian Premier League season. Gale has known Petrasso since the player was 15, and coached him on Canada’s U20 team at the CONCACAF championship in 2013. One year later, Petrasso was named the U20 Canadian player of the year. Petrasso would go on to make nine appearances for Canada’s senior team.

"He was in great demand," Gale said of his newest signing. "Many clubs wanted him, not just here, but abroad. But he wanted to get in and enjoy his football. He’s had a couple injury setbacks and he’s been played out of position over the last couple of years, I will say that. I don’t think the coaches have gotten the best out of Michael Petrasso. Hopefully, I can do that again. He’s someone I trust, and we have a long relationship."

Petrasso may have been a defender at the MLS level, but he has spent most of his career as a midfielder who has shown a knack for scoring goals. As a 15-year-old, he played for Canada at the U17 2011 CONCACAF championship, where he scored a hat trick against Barbados in the group stage. Petrasso, who has been told he’ll be used as an attacker with Valour FC, wants to regain his scoring touch and believes his familiarity with Gale will help him get there.

"I obviously know him from the past, and he’s seen me play many, many times," Petrasso said. "He feels he can coach me again and help me develop even more now. Obviously, being out for quite a long time, I kind of need that. Hopefully, it will build my confidence and get me back to playing at a high level."

Petrasso said he’s fully healed from his injury and is ready to go for the season. He believes the Canadian Premier League has come at the perfect time for him in his young career, and hopes it can help him get back to the same level he was at before — or higher.

"Every player has a goal. They want to try to play at the highest level," Petrasso said. "I think, right now, I just need to focus on playing again and getting an opportunity here and see how it comes. Obviously, it’s been an honour to play for the national team already in my career. I’ll work towards that. And eventually, maybe someday in the future, I can get back on that team or move on somewhere else."

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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