Dylan Carreiro’s journey to professional soccer began in his childhood home in Winnipeg’s West End. Valour Road was his back lane. Many years later, it has come to an end with Carreiro having played his final season as the captain of his hometown club, Valour FC.
Carreiro, a 26-year-old midfielder, announced on Twitter on Wednesday his retirement from pro soccer. A first-round pick in the inaugural Canadian Premier League-U Sports Draft in 2018, Carreiro went on to play two seasons for Valour before the two sides mutually agreed to not renew his contract for 2021. Carreiro, who now resides in Toronto, has made the decision to move on from the league entirely. He’s getting into coaching with League1 Ontario club Vaughan Azzurri.
"The big thing for me stepping down was family reasons," Carreiro told the Free Press in a phone interview.
"I’m getting married this year and being away all the time from your family when you want to start a life with your other person is important. It was a difficult decision in terms of that, but I felt it was the best decision at the time to stop playing. There are many reasons of course, but a big one was wanting to stay home and be with my fiancée (Vanessa)."
Carreiro likely has a lot of quality soccer left in him, but a CPL salary makes it challenging for players like him to play into their late 20s. There are some exceptions, but most CPL players are paid $10,000-$35,000.
"That’s a massive thing to do with it. I’m seeing a lot of reports now about CPL salaries. I don’t want to get into it because it’s none of my business, but in terms of me, a big part of growing up and having a family is having financial stability. I don’t know how to say it in a good way, but I couldn’t keep playing," Carreiro said.
"Maybe an injury or something comes up and then I have to start a new career in terms of finding something else to do. The financial stability wasn’t there in terms of those opportunities."
As a teenager, Carreiro headed out east to join the Toronto FC Academy before he spent two years in London with the Queens Park Rangers Academy. He’d go on to play professionally in the Scottish Championship for Dundee and Arbroath before returning to Canada in 2016. The Canadian U-20 player of the year in 2013 would play in League1 Ontario and then at York University before the CPL was born and he was drafted by Valour. In 30 career CPL games, Carreiro found the back of the net three times.
For the CPL to successfully groom young Canadian talent, they’re going to need to find a way to keep veteran players like Carreiro, who can give so much back to the system, playing.
"I was fortunate enough to captain Valour and the big thing was just sitting down with some of the young guys and teaching them some of the experiences I went through so they don’t make those mistakes and so they can learn from that. That was kind of my goal, to try and stay in the game as long as possible," he said.
"I love the game. I love playing the game. That’s not going to stop, my passion for the game is still there. But the big thing was just to get these young kids that are coming in to understand what professional football is about, day in and day out. I enjoyed the two years that I had in CPL and I was very fortunate to play in my hometown and get an opportunity to play professionally in Canada."
Carreiro will forever be remembered for scoring the game-winning goal for Valour in their inaugural match — a 2-1 road win over Pacific FC on May 1, 2019. Soccer took him all over the world, especially during his time on the Canadian youth national team, but that history-making goal for Winnipeg’s pro soccer team will be a memory he’ll always cherish.
"It’s gonna last a lifetime for me. Being able to get the first game-winning goal for my club, for my hometown, where I was born, where I grew up, where I started playing soccer and learned how to play soccer, it’s going to be in my heart forever. I hope it’s in fans’ hearts forever as well because it’s very meaningful to me."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.