Valour FC’s first match in the Canadian Championship this season is also the first time in club history that they take on an MLS opponent, and it comes on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
This season, the Whitecaps have been struggling in the MLS, riding a 2-1-6 record into tonight’s interleague clash, placing them firmly at the bottom of the MLS league table. Technically, they are level with Seattle at 7 points, but the Sounders have a game in hand and a better goal differential.
Valour is also struggling a bit in the CPL, with a record of 1-2-1, sitting in 6th place within the young 8-team league. Although they have the most goals for in the league (with 9), two-thirds of those goals came in a 6-1 victory over Athlético Ottawa on April 24th.
The first dozen minutes of the match had Valour frustrating the Whitecaps, and Valour’s speed and calmness on the ball seemed almost unexpected to the home team.
It didn’t take long for Vancouver to find their own rhythm. In the 19th minute, the home side found the net on a rebound given by Valour. It was unfortunate for the 22-year-old keeper Rayane Yesli, as the initial shot by Ryan Raposo was very well struck, and Yesli made a very impressive stop, only to have the ball fall onto the feet of Russell Teibert, who hammered home the free strike.
Just three minutes later, Raposo scored his own on a 2-on-0 with Déiber Caicedo into a wide-open net. Valour’s defence collapsed, allowing Caicedo to slip past the backline, and Raposo found himself to be Johnny-on-the-spot for one of the easiest goals he’ll score this year.
Throughout the half, Valour found themselves absolutely exposed in the back several more times. Vancouver seemed to have identified fullback Federico Peña as the weak link in the Valour armour, and they continued to target him repeatedly with far too much success.
Interspersed between the panicked moments on the defensive side of the ball, there were a few flashes of offence that Valour, culminating in a fantastic effort from CF Montreal loanee Sean Rea that gave Vancouver’s Cody Cropper a lot of trouble.
It wasn’t the half that Valour wanted or needed, but there were indeed some positives to draw from going into halftime.
Head Coach Phil Dos Santos made some adjustments at the half, taking Alessandro Riggi out in favour of adding a defender in Andy Baquero.
With the formation tweaked, Valour seemed a lot more controlled and organized in the half’s opening minutes. This caused so much frustration for Vancouver that in the 53rd minute, Lucas Cavallini was cautioned for booting the ball away after a whistle by referee Alain Ruch signalled a Valour free-kick.
In the 57th minute, Baquero was fouled just outside the Whitecaps box, and Diego Gutierrez had an opportunity from a dangerous area. Unfortunately for Valour, his attempt went well over the net and into the stands.
The rest of the match was rather uneventful, with Vancouver successfully nullifying any attempt to build an attack by the visiting Valour FC side.
Goalkeeper Rayane Yesli made his first appearance as a member of Valour FC, and in a Canadian Championship elimination match to boot. No pressure, right?
Considering Valour’s regular keeper Jonathan Sirois is actually an MLS loanee; it was nice for coaches and fans to get eyes on the backup to see how he’ll carry himself going forward, should Sirois be recalled to Montreal.
The two goals Yesli conceded were not an issue with his performance, the first being a rebound after a fantastic stop, and the second being a two-man breakaway leaving him out to dry. Overall, Yesli’s play was consistent, and while Dos Santos would like to see better, the Valour bench boss also recognized how well the young man handled himself.
Valour will head back to Winnipeg immediately to prepare for their clash with York United this Sunday, May 15th, at 4pm CDT. Get your tickets now to see the return of Austin Ricci to IG Field with his new club. Expect some friendly taunting to come out of the Trench.