2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #100
York United vs. Valour FC
September 22, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET
York Lions Stadium in York, Ontario
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After a weekend without much movement in the Canadian Premier League, it’s set the table nicely for a crucial weekend of action in the league over the next couple of days.
Kicking off that action will be on Friday, when York United hosts Valour FC at York Lions Stadium, the first of four games this weekend.
A game in which York can be officially eliminated from playoff contention should they lose, draw, or if Pacific FC wins on Sunday, while Valour looks to further cement their spot in the top 4 and keep their regular season title hopes alive, there’s undoubtedly a lot at stake for both sides in this one.
As a result, an intense matchup is expected to be on the cards, as the two sides that have picked up the most points over their last five matches get set to do battle.
To begin, there are the hosts, York, who despite teetering on the edge of playoff elimination for the last few weeks, haven’t let that affect their play, winning six and drawing one of their last 10 games, picking up more points over that stretch (19) than they did over their first 15 matches (11).
Because of that, they’ve quickly become a team that most don’t want to face right now. Having built a nice nucleus of attacking talent up front, led by Osaze De Rosario and Mo Babouli, they’ve done well to put their early-season offensive troubles behind them, while also maintaining the defensive solidity that they became known for in their earlier games.
Therefore, while they’re coming off of a tough result in their last game out, a 0-0 draw at home against the Halifax Wanderers, they’re eager to get back to winning ways once again, maintaining that strong run of form.
“I just want to see a little bit more fight,” York head coach, Martin Nash, said ahead of this match. “I thought we just didn’t want it enough last week. We played well at times, but we just didn’t want it enough, so I just want to see that little bit more fight tomorrow, and I think the guys have trained well this week and are up for it.”
Meanwhile, Valour heads to Ontario looking to build off of a good run of their own, as they’ve lost just two of their last nine games, winning five and drawing two, really helping fuel this push.
Led by a strong team-first approach, one that involves prioritizing defensive responsibility and a balanced offensive system, that’s allowed them to rattle off wins as they have.
As a result, while they’re also fresh off of a draw, a 1-1 battle with Atlético Ottawa in a game they also probably want back given that they led in the second half, they’ll be looking to conjure up what they’ve shown over the last few months.
“If we want to be in that playoff spot, these are the types of games that we have to go and get the points from,” Valour head coach, Phil Dos Santos said this week. “And hopefully maximize the points, because right now the margin for error is becoming smaller and smaller.”
Either way, one thing is for sure – both teams are in good form, and both teams know how important a win would be, meaning that a competitive clash should be on the cards if all goes as planned.
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All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Valour looking for quadruple over York: Interestingly, Valour has fancied playing York this year. Quite a lot, actually. In fact, heading into this game, Valour has won all three of their previous matchups against York in 2022, winning them by a combined score of 6-1, as they’ve seemingly had their number in all of those games. Led by Sean Rea, who has three goals and two assists against York this year, to their defence, who have mostly kept York frustrated and at bay, Valour has just seemed to find another gear whenever they play York, and will look to do so once again. At the same time, they know that this York test isn’t the same one it was before. Now sitting as one of the hottest teams in the league, especially after the signing of Babouli, the York attack will offer a lot more resistance than it might’ve in those previous games, as teams around the league have quickly learned. Therefore, if Valour is to keep this run going and make it four for four, ensuring that they don’t cut any corners defensively will be crucial, because if not, this new-look York team will cause them problems, as they try to ensure that they don’t get swept in this season’s series. “Yeah, we’ll look at those games that we played against them, but we won’t make it too big of a factor when it comes to what’s going to come at us tomorrow,” Dos Santos said. “For me, it’s a different York, and the game we’ll play tomorrow will have nothing to do with the three games we played against them previously.”
- Translating home form to the road a priority for Valour: Yet, for all of the success that Valour has had as of late, it’s worth noting that a lot of it has come due to a scheduling quirk, as they’ve played eight of their last 10 games at home. There, they’ve won five of those games, and drawn two others, losing just across that homestand, showing how good they’ve been in those games. On the road, however, it’s been a different story, as not only did they lose the two road games they’ve played over that 10-game span, but haven’t won on the road since late June, when they beat Forge at Tim Hortons Field June 29th. Therefore, as they embark on this three-game road trip to close out their season, finding a way to change that is imperative. Currently sitting as the team who has picked up the fewest points on the road of any of the teams in the top five, finding a way to turn that around could be the difference between them making the playoffs for the first time and missing out. For what it’s worth, Dos Santos feels that it’s not necessarily something his team has done differently in their approach, but whatever it is, changing that has to be a must for his team right now. “We’ve had solid performances on the road, so for us, the message is the same on the road or at home, we need to play our game,” Dos Santos said. “We need to stay consistent, we need to limit mistakes, we need to understand the different moments of the game and make the right interpretations and decisions in those moments and right now, as when you get to this stretch where you’re also in survival mode, every point is so precious, so I think home or away can’t be a factor. We need to go out there, it’s not like we’re playing in environments that are intimidating, and we need to embrace the moment and understand everything that is related to our sole motivation and desire to be in the playoffs, and desire to make history for the club.”
- Last home game for York a chance to reverse tough home record: Meanwhile, on their end, York is also looking to turn around similar struggles – but in their case, it’s their home record, which has been less than stellar, sitting with the second-fewest points from their home games in the league. As a result, as they enter this game, their last home match of the season, turning around that record is a must, for many reasons. Firstly, they’ll want to do so just to keep their playoff hopes alive, but there’s also the desire to give this York crowd a win and some goals to cheer about, too, sending them home with a good vibe ahead of next year. They’ve made up for some of their struggles at home with a good record on the road, to be fair, but winning home games is crucial if one is to make the playoffs, as well as keep the fans engaged, which is why York will want to ensure they get the job done in this game. As they also keep one eye on the future, they know how important it will be to get better at home going forward, and want to use this game as a springboard toward that future. “Yeah, I think it’s big,” Nash said. “It’s been a long season, yes, but we haven’t been as good at home as I would have hoped. We’ve been better at home lately, which is good and trending in the right direction, and we want to set that up for next year. We want to finish strong at home, for ourselves as well as our fans.”
York United wins: 4 || Valour FC wins: 6 || Draws: 1
August 7th, 2022 — Valour FC 2-0 York United
“Our state of mind recently has been just trying to go for every game that we can. As I’ve been saying for weeks, three points are the only thing we’re going for now, draws don’t really help us, and we threw everything at Halifax at the end of the game last week to try to get that win, but it didn’t come. (Now), I just want to see some progress, for us to keep improving, keep working hard and try and finish as high at the table as possible. And if that’s the playoffs, great, and if it’s not, at least we can hold our heads up high that we give everything we can until the end.” — York United head coach Martin Nash.
“We can score in multiple ways, we can score in possession, in open play, in transition moments, our set plays have always been a threat throughout the year, we had the mandate to win that area of our throughout the season, to score considerably more than we concede. There will be scoring opportunities, and we’ll have a chance to score, and I don’t really care who it is, I just want the players to keep being there first for the team, and then wherever scores we go and celebrate with them.” — Valour FC head coach Phil Dos Santos.