Valour FC and its loyal fan base will have to wait a spell – a long, long spell – before Winnipeg’s Canadian Premier League squad makes its 2024 home debut.
And, quite clearly, everyone involved has their collective fingers crossed the wait and the build-up will be well worth it by the time the club takes the pitch for its home opener on Sunday, June 2nd.
Each team’s home opener was announced last week, with the full schedule unveil coming today from the CPL. Valour traditionally is one of the last teams to hold a home opener in an attempt to avoid the early season weather uncertainty and that factor was also impactedby last week’s announcement the stadium will be getting new turf installed in the next few months.
Valour will host Vancouver FC in a June 2nd matinee (4 p.m.) start in what is the latest home debut in the team’s six-year history – excluding the 2020 Island Games Tournament that was held in Prince Edward Island and the 2021 season that began here in Winnipeg in late June in a bubble – both as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are 5 Takeaways from Valour FC’s 2024 schedule:
- ROAD WARRIORS TO START?
Valour opens the 2024 season with seven consecutive road matches, beginning Sunday, April 14th at the Langley Events Centre to face Vancouver FC. The club will play all seven of its CPL rivals on the road before playing host a match in Winnipeg, going from coast to coast with matches against Pacific FC in Victoria to a meeting with HFX Wanderers on May 20th in Nova Scotia.
The potential bonus for debuting later than every CPL team? Valour will have only seven of its final 21 matches on the road during a stretch from June 23rd to October 19th.
Further to the above, from August 4th until the end of the season Valour will have nine of its 12 matches here at home, including a stretch of four straight from August 4-25th and a three-match stand from September 21st-October 6th.
- BRINGING BALANCE TO THE REST
As much as the Valour’s home-road schedule is unbalanced with the travel-heavy start and home-dominant finish, this much remains in place: the club will play each of the seven teams four times, twice at home and twice on the road.
- REBUILDING A HOME FORTRESS
Valour had taken steps to establish its home ground as a tough venue for opponents in 2021 and 2022, going 7-3-4 at IG Field in 2021 and 7-4-3 in 2022.
That progress took a hit last year at the team finished just 3-4-7 at home.
Worth noting: of the five teams that qualified for the playoffs last year – Cavalry FC, Forge FC, HFX Wanderers FC, Pacific FC, and York United FC – only York (4-2-8) had a losing record at home.
- HOT SPOTS/TROUBLE AREAS
Valour makes two stops in Nova Scotia this season – May 20th and July 18th. Why is that notable? Wanderers Grounds is the CPL venue in which Valour has had the most difficulty dating back to the league’s inception in 2019 with no wins and just one draw against six losses.
Valour also has just one win at Pacific – the first match in franchise history, in fact – with seven losses and a draw since; one win against a draw and six losses at ATCO Field in Calgary and one win and a draw against four losses at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, home to Forge FC.
The best road trips historically for Valour have been to Toronto — where the club has five wins and two losses in seven matches against York United at York Lions Stadium – and to Ottawa, where the club has a 2-1-2 record.
Also, the club has yet to lose – or win – in Vancouver with two draws last season against the CPL’s expansion side at the Langley Events Centre.
- REVERSING ANOTHER TREND?
Valour managed just 13 goals at home last season, surrendering 20 for a -7 differential at home and a number than ranked 6th in the league ahead of York (-12) and Vancouver (-11).
The squad’s home goals total has dropped in each of the last three seasons from a high of 20 in 2021 to 15 in 2022 and 13 last season.