‘Monkey off the back’: Valour regroup after ending 6-match skid

EDMONTON – Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in a lightning-delayed marathon at FC Edmonton’s Clarke Stadium marked the first time in Canadian Premier League action that Valour FC had drawn a game.

It also snapped a six-game losing streak that dated back to the Spring portion of the season and included two Canadian Championship matches.

And, while 0-0 might seem like a baby step, consider that the team was without Ali Musse and midfield dynamo Michael Petrasso, both out with injuries. And midfielder Louis Beland-Goyette was out due to yellow-card accumulation.

As well, Spanish midfielder Jose Galan, who signed for Valour just a couple of days ago, was in uniform but didn’t play. Just-signed Italian forward Michele Paolucci was not available. So, with Band-Aids and duct tape, Rob Gale put an XI together that was able to answer the bell.

Maybe this draw on a miserable stormy night on the prairies was a sign of better things to come.

But, Gale said that the six-game streak had to be taken with a grain of salt. After two losses to HFX Wanderers in the Canadian Championship, the third loss came on the road to Forge. Once Valour lost that game, the mentality for the remainder of the Spring season changed.

“Once that Forge game was done, we knew we couldn’t win the (Spring portion of the) league,” Gale told reporters after the match. “So we used it (the schedule) for different purposes. We needed to get youth minutes. We wanted to do that. We had a lot of injuries, and we still have a few to come back. So we have a bit of a rebuilding job in that sense.”

He also felt Valour’s home performances deserved better results.

“It is a bit of an anomaly, but in the home games, we felt we should have picked up points every game, but didn’t.”

With 15 goals surrendered in 10 games, Valour equaled Pacific FC for the worst defensive record in the CPL Spring season. So, getting a clean sheet to open up their Fall campaign was more than an achievement for goalkeeper Tyson Farago – it was an achievement for a team that had a couple of weeks to collect itself after the Spring session.

“We knew we had to regroup for now,” Gale said. “We’ve done some hard work over the last couple of weeks on the defensive side, that collective will to make ourselves more difficult to beat.”

Now, it’s onward and upward. One point from one fall season game isn’t a massive return, but it’s a hell of lot better than nothing out of the previous six.

“The lads really stuck in today,” Farago said. “It’s a bit of the monkey off the back, to snap that six-game losing streak, and looking forward to Saturday against Hamilton (Forge FC).”