YORK REGION – It may have taken a dozen or so tries, but Valour FC are back in the “Win” column and for head coach Rob Gale, the celebrations won’t be at all muted.
Truthfully, we could write anything we wanted in this second paragraph, and it’d be unlikely to reach the Valour coach’s desk. That is, if Gale is to be believed, having vehemently denied any semblance of interest in what the media has been writing about his club during an 11-game winless run in all competitions, which extends back to a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton on June 2.
That all came to an end, of course, at York Lions Stadium, as Valour FC departed 2-0 winners on the day, and for Gale, the performance, worthy of merit, was just a little sweeter in that is served to vindicate a club who probably deserved a little more over these summer months.
“To come on the road and put on a professional performance like that, when everybody’s writing us off – let’s be honest, you guys were – and with a young guy making his debut at centre-back, four defenders out, six players out (in total) and still win is a terrific effort,” Gale told reporters after the match. “All credit to the lads.”
Valour has, for our purposes, sat bottom or near-bottom of the CCL! Power Rankings for a number of weeks, as July and August rolled on without a ‘W’ in their column – but, as Gale affirmed, he didn’t pay that, or any other commentary, too much mind, even if the school of Jose Mourinho might have inspired a sort of “us vs. them” mentality within his locker room.
“No, never referenced it, don’t watch it, said it before, I’m not on social media so I missed all the comments,” Gale declared. “Every now and then someone will try and send you (something), but it’s water off a duck’s back to us.”
He added: “We’ve had injuries galore from the sixth game onwards, we got our young minutes in, we knew we had talented players, we just needed to put it together. Sometimes, defending set pieces have been a problem but they’re teething problems in a young team. I see, every day, the effort, attitude and work rate of these boys, and it’s absolute quality; their challenge was to prove we don’t just do it in training – we’re great in training, but we’ve had to take this step.
“We know we’ve been turning the tide; the mentality, the experience is coming in, but no, I don’t care what the media has to say because they don’t see what I see on a daily basis. ”
What the media did see at York Lions Stadium on Saturday was a much sharper Valour FC, with Michele Paolucci scoring an early go-ahead, before Michael Petrasso punished the Nine Stripes with an open-net goal in the dying embers of the match. While he likely won’t score an easier goal than that in his career, Petrasso highlighted the importance of seeing out the 90 minutes without the sort of turnaround drama that his side has benefitted from, in reverse, over the last few fixtures.
That included, of course, a game-saving penalty stop by goalkeeper Matthias Janssens.
“Going into this game, we were focused, and when we went up 1-0, we rallied together and we fought,” Petrasso said. “Then, our ‘keeper made a great save on the pen, which kind of boosted all our spirits. You could see, it was one of those where once they won the pen, everyone went into pause mode, and then our ‘keeper came up big. Those are the moments we need – we need people to step up, and he did.
Petrasso added: “After that, we saw it out. When we were up 2-0, we sealed the game and it was relief that we got our win. Now we push forward from here.”
Pushing forward has been a recurring theme for Gale’s side, who have overcome more adversity than most in this inaugural CPL campaign. As Gale pointed out, his side has travelled some 52,000 km thus far this season.
“It’s a learning process for all of us,” Gale offered, in conclusion. “Some have learned faster, but we have to take that into consideration. The purpose of this league is to develop young Canadian players … You have to stick to that plan; you take the flack on the shoulders and believe in your principles, and then you learn about the sleep and the hydration and nutrition and professionalism of young players possibly in their first-time environment, and how they deal with adversity.”