MATCH ANALYSIS: Dream home opener for Valour FC as Swibel brace secures win over Vancouver FC

Final Score: Valour FC 2-0 Vancouver FC
Goalscorers: Swibel 38′, 48′
Game of the 2024 season: 31
CPL match: 515

Match in a minute or less

After seven straight matches on the road to begin their 2024 Canadian Premier League season, Valour FC opened the home portion of their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Vancouver FC on Sunday.

Jordan Swibel scored a brace to deliver the victory for Valour. Goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi, meanwhile, made four saves to keep them in front, and earn the club’s first clean sheet of the campaign.

After losing their first five matches of the season, six in all competitions, Valour FC are now undefeated in their last three matches. The loss, meanwhile, ends a three-game unbeaten run for Vancouver FC — who remain in second place despite the result.

Three Observations

Perfect home opener for Valour FC, as they continue to gain momentum

After a month and a half of dealing with adverse conditions as a road side in the Canadian Premier League, Valour FC were dealt more of the same in their home opener on Sunday.

Inclement weather in Winnipeg meant the match was delayed two hours, . But it would not dampen the spirit of the crowd at Princess Auto Stadium, nor the Valour team who finally got to play on the stadium’s new surface for the first time and delivered a performance befitting of the occasion.

“I think it was special, because you spend so much time away from home, and you know you have a good crowd that weathered a wait and a storm, and you know the guys in the locker room and that those levels of anxiety raise up,” said Valour FC manager Phil Dos Santos. “And it’s important for us to come home and win the match.”

With well-taken goals on either side of half-time and a resilient defensive performance, Valour took advantage of the conditions. After a rocky start to the campaign, they appear a team full of belief right now.

“Momentum in football, and confidence are the main things,” said Valour’s Jordan Swibel. “So to have three results in a row now, two on the road…we did a really good job to then bring that here. And I think like you saw today, momentum, no matter what was thrown at us I think the momentum helped carry us through and get a result today.”

More tests await for the Winnipeg side at home, as top-of-the-table Atlético Ottawa are in town next weekend — fresh off a comeback draw that gave the capital club a record eighth straight unbeaten match to start the season, and Pacific FC come to town a week later. But Valour passed the first one with flying colours, and with 13 more matches at Princess Auto Stadium to go the team can rightly feel like they have turned a corner.

“It’s been a while since we’ve played at home and I think it was a perfect night,” said Dos Santos. “You know, you look at it, it was almost from a movie scene. The rain, the lights, the crowd, and man, a lot of good things. A lot of good things. Very happy.”


Jordan Swibel proving to be the kind of clinical striker Valour FC have been missing

Last year, one of the biggest missing pieces for Valour FC was a clinical attacker who could consistently finish chances.

With his third and fourth goals of the season, Australian Jordan Swibel is proving to be just that. He has now scored as many goals as any Valour player managed all of last season —  with since-departed pair Diego Gutiérrez and Walter Ponce plus the injured Kian Williams scoring four each in 2023.

“After being away for so long, I think that was really important to bring a good performance today,” said Swibel. “And on a personal note, like I say every time I score, it’s what I came here to do. There is nothing more I love than doing that. So to bring that joy to our fans after so long away from home, it’s really, really nice to do.”

In the first half, Swibel took advantage of a slip by Vancouver FC defender David Norman and broke in on Callum Irving. His first effort was brilliantly saved by the Vancouver FC keeper, but Swibel calmly collected the rebound and slotted it just inside the left post.

Then three minutes into the second half, Swibel struck again. This time he collected an excellent long ball from Diogo Ressurreição before going one-on-one with Irving. The Australian calmly chipped the Vancouver keeper and gave his side a critical second goal.

He finished with five shots attempted, and eight touches in the Vancouver box. But what made Swibel’s play so impactful on Sunday were the consistent and tireless runs he made up the pitch to get into dangerous positions in the final third and go at the Vancouver backline.

“I think that what you saw is a guy like Jordy never quitting, even if the play looks a bit lost, he still goes for it and it pays off,” said Dos Santos.

Valour have largely been missing this sort of truly lethal player up front since Moses Dyer in 2022, who scored nine that campaign. The New Zealand striker, who coincidentally now plays for Vancouver FC, was unavailable to face his former side on Sunday evening through suspension.

Swibel moves into a tie for second in league scoring with York United’s Brian Wright and Cavalry FC’s Tobias Warschewski. Only Atlético Ottawa’s Rubén del Campo has found the back of the net more times, with five to his name this season.


Viscosi, Valour FC keep first clean sheet, while Vancouver FC show cracks defensively

After allowing four goals the last time they played Vancouver FC, and a stunning 20 through their first six matches in all competitions — Valour FC have now limited their opponents to just one open play goal in their past three matches, and two in total.

On Sunday, they again delivered a strong team defensive performance to keep their first clean sheet of the season. The return of Tass Mourdoukoutas from injury, in particular, and the general stability of personnel across the Valour backline has been critical to this recent stretch of defensive solidity.

“We were bleeding goals, and now we’re willing to pay the price, and we’re not making mistakes,” said Dos Santos. “And every time you’re clean defensively and you don’t give much to the opposition, you give yourself a chance.”

When the Valour backline did show cracks, Jonathan Viscosi was brilliant in net. Critically, he made saves at all the right moments, like a 21st-minute stop on Mikaël Cantave to keep the match level early, then in the 77th minute on a point-blank header from Renan Garcia to deny Vancouver any late hope. In stoppage time, he also made an outstanding stop on a substitute Elage Bah to preserve his first CPL shutout.

Viscosi was critical not only in his shot-stopping but also in his ability to bail Valour out with the ball at his feet. He calmly played a few ill-advised back passes out of danger in order to prevent what could have been a few calamitous moments from the hosts.

On the other side of the pitch, after three consecutive matches in which they limited their opponents to just a single goal, Vancouver FC were left frustrated by yet another poor defensive performance on the road. It was the third time in four away matches this season that they have allowed the hosts to score multiple goals — tied with York United for the most goals per game allowed on the road this season (2.25).

“There was just lapses of concentration of our central defenders, very simple plays that were just, in my opinion, amateur goals that we gave away,” said Vancouver FC manager Afshin Ghotbi. “That was maybe our way of giving a present away in the [home opener] of a team.”

Vancouver maintain their second-place position in the table, almost entirely due to the fact that they remain undefeated at home. But they know they are going to need to learn to make fewer mistakes on the road.

“These are growing pains for a team that still is playing with a lot of new players and still trying to lead how to lead the league,” said Ghotbi. “When we’re in this position in the table, you have to be mentally much stronger, and you have to be more, in my opinion, error-free if you want to take points out of these games away from home.” Player of the Match

Jordan Swibel, Valour FC

With two well-taken goals, Swibel continues to establish himself as one of the most clinical strikers in the Canadian Premier League. If he can keep scoring at this clip for the Winnipeg side, they are going to be a lot more dangerous in 2024.

What’s next?

Valour continue their homestand as they welcome top-of-the-table Atlético Ottawa on Sunday, June 9 (12:30 p.m. CT / 1:30 p.m. ET). Vancouver, meanwhile, head to York Lions Stadium for the second time this season, looking to avenge a 3-0 loss they suffered to York United earlier this season on Sunday, June 9 (3:00 p.m. PT / 6:00 p.m. ET).

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