In this series, Steven Sandor examines the projected starting lineups of each Canadian Premier League club ahead of the 2019 CPL season.
If there was a team that fit the adage of “build from the back,” it’s Valour FC.
With the early signings of Skylar Thomas and Jordan Murrell, coach Rob Gale announced to the CPL as a whole that his team would be a hard one to break down.
With a veteran goalkeeper and one of the most imposing back lines in CPL, there’s no doubting Valour’s defensive potential; the questions will be on the offensive side.
Winnipeg native Tyson Farago, after proving himself at FC Edmonton, will likely be the man who will between the sticks for his hometown team. While Farago is a good shot-stopper, he really impresses with his ball distribution. He was one of the best, if not the best, in NASL — and he can turn defence into offence with his goal kicks that he can hammer from box to box. If you wanted to put odds on a ‘keeper scoring a goal in CPL, Farago would be your favourite.
It often takes two centre backs a while to build chemistry. By signing Jordan Murrell and Skylar Thomas, Gale may have jumpstarted that process. Murrell and Thomas were standout teammates at Syracuse University. Now, they’re reunited in Winnipeg. Thomas, standing at six-foot-five, will give Valour an edge on set pieces. But, if the two old friends can rekindle what they had at ‘Cuse, they’ll be a strength.
A lot of the team’s ball movement will depend on two Canadian who Gale coached in the youth ranks of the national soccer program. Louis Beland-Goyette is a former captain of FC Montreal, the Impact’s former USL affiliate — and then moved up to the MLS parent club. He’s got plenty of experience in North American soccer, and even though he doesn’t turn 24 till late this year, will be seen as a veteran on this club. Michael Petrasso came out of TFC Academy, headed to Queens Park Rangers, and spent time in various levels of English football. He came back to Canada in 2018 and, like Beland-Goyette, has MLS experience with the Impact. He will play a massive role in making sure balls get to the forward line.
English forward scored at better than a goal-every-other-game rate in New Zealand this past season; Gale needs a similar conversion rate from Hoyle at the CPL level. In New Zealand, Hoyle was praised for being a versatile striker who can be both provider and finisher.