“He really has a commanding presence in the back line and that’s important.”

Too many times in 2023 Valour FC entered matches uncertain about its back line due a devastating rash of injuries – particularly at centre back – in what was a storyline that played out all season.

GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos certainly doesn’t want those question marks again in 2024 and has taken another step in improving its back line depth with the signing of Canadian Premier League veteran and Australian international Tass Mourdoukoutas, who made 36 appearances over the last two seasons with York United FC.

“He’s been a primary target for us since the season ended,” said Dos Santos in a conversation with after the Mourdoukoutas signing. “He’s a player that from Day 1 I’ve liked. I’ve always liked his aggressiveness.

“He’s a centre back who is strong in his offensive marking and has a good pace to himself and can defend in the higher line. He’s very simple in the way he plays but reads situations well.

“He really has a commanding presence in the back line and that’s important. He’s played the majority of the games in his season and a half at York and has been not only healthy through that but has sustained his performance.”

A 24-year-old product of Sydney Australia, Mourdoukoutas spent six seasons playing professionally at home with the Western Sydney Wanderers, scoring five times.

He made his international debut for Australia as part of the U-19 team in 2018 and in 2020 played in the 2020 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) U-23 Championship helping his country qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo which were ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mourdoukoutas is the latest addition in what has already been a busy offseason for Valour (link to Wednesday’s roster story) as the club will look significantly different in 2024.

Critical for Dos Santos & Co. was adding another player with CPL experience.

“We really targeted and wanted him and so we’re happy we were able to get him,” Dos Santos said. “It wasn’t easy because it’s never easy when good players are on the market and that’s why we’re so excited.

“We’re talking about an Australian international with A League experience – he’s been in very high level games and that brings experience to the locker room. It’s players like that, players like him and Roberto (Alarcón), who are internationals who have started in our league and know what it takes to win. That was important for us, even with the international players we were talking about, to have that assurance and certainty.”