It’s Canadian Premier League offseason Day 1 for five of seven clubs … including Valour FC, who entered the down season rather unceremoniously on Saturday via a 2-0 loss at Westhills Stadium.
For head coach Rob Gale, the match brought their 10th multi-goal defeat of 2019 – their second in a row following a 4-0 defeat to York9 FC just days before.
Like all CPL coaches, Gale is embarking on his first offseason with the new team. A chance to retool and find what works now with a full 28-match season under their belt.
“I like the character of the boys we have, but we probably need more nastiness on the field, because you can see we get bullied at times,” Gale said frankly to reporters, mentioning the treatment received on the field by players like Marco Bustos.
Cue the Rob Gale mathematics klaxon …
“Bustos, today, might as well have an abacus for the foul count against him.”
Bustos is one of several Valour players inked to multi-year deals at the start of the season including Jordan Murrell, Mathias Janssens, Dylan Carreiro, Tyler Attardo, Raphael Garcia and Skylar Thomas just to name a few. It’s a decent returning core for any team.
“We’ll assess it one by one,” Gale said of the players on his final day roster. “The league can see anywhere from a 30 to 50 percent turnover, because they’ve got to find out what it means to be in a job and show consistency.
“We know that now. We didn’t know this league. We have a lot of good footballers, and it’s time to assess what their pathways look like.”
CPL coaches essentially assembled their teams in the dark heading into Year 1. No matches played, no level of play set. Gale returned to Canadian Premier League Finals clubs Forge FC and Cavalry FC who have set a clear goal to reach; consistency.
“(Our season shaped up) just like every club that isn’t Forge or Cavalry – that’s how it ended up.
“We’ve got to find what Tommy had with consistency coming through the PDL, and Forge with Sigma.”
Forge and Cavalry had one thing in common going into 2019: familiarly. Cores based on League1 Ontario’s Sigma FC and Calgary Foothills, respectively, proved to be the CPL’s magic potion come the first season.
“It’ll be tight again; anyone can beat anyone on their day. But, fair play to Forge and Cavalry, because they’ve shown the consistency that nobody else has.
“For us, it’s who do you want to go to battle with in year two? Who do you know, when it gets hectic out there, that will step up and show the right professionalism on a daily basis?
“We’ve delivered on our mandate of what we’re about as a club – the values and the vision of what we want to be – and now it’s our job to go and find the players that can step up. We’re top of the heap for attendance, and we’ve got a great fan culture, with an excellent connection with our club and the community. We’re out there all the time, and been all over Manitoba. Now we know what the level is – we have to go out and improve to get consistency on the field in year two.”