It’s only natural that in a short round-robin tournament like the Canadian Premier League’s Island Games there would be some scoreboard watching while squads are not in action.
Each of the eight teams is only guaranteed seven matches, after all, with the top four from the First Stage of the event advancing to the next round. Couple that with being confined to a bubble in Charlottetown, PEI and the options are limited to training, playing, sleeping, eating – and devouring the action of the other teams.
And so the players, coaches and staff from Valour FC were keenly interested in the Island Games action on Wednesday, one day after their 2-nil fall to Pacific FC left them with a win, a draw and two losses through four games.
But while Tuesday’s match began with Valour in third place in the tournament behind Cavalry FC and Forge FC, they are now in seventh spot following their loss and then wins by York9 FC, HFX Wanderers FC on Wednesday and Atlético Ottawa on Thursday.
The silver lining here? With three matches left, Valour is very much still behind the wheel and in control of where their ride can go.
“Everyone was disappointed after our last game (against Pacific),” began Valour forward Austin Ricci in a phone conversation from Prince Edward Island. “If a few things go the other way in that game maybe we get a point out of it or get a result. We missed a few chances we probably could have finished and if we get those chances again, on a different day, we probably do finish them. I think we were just unlucky.
“We hit a speed bump. All we can do now is look forward and concentrate on getting a win against Edmonton.”
FC Edmonton fell 3-1 to the Wanderers on Wednesday night and with just one draw and three losses is currently at the bottom of the Island Games standings. So, clearly, Saturday’s matchup is massive for both sides, but particularly for Valour if it wants to get back into the discussion for advancement to the next round.
“We’ve got an extra day here between our last game and the one on Saturday so I think it will be huge for everyone’s body and to get people feeling 100 percent,” said Ricci. “We had a meeting (Wednesday night) with the coaches and everybody.”
“In this tournament it’s important to have a short memory. That game (against Pacific) is done. There’s nothing we can do to change the result. Whatever happened, happened. And now we have to focus on the next game because it’s different players, different tactics. We’ll be prepared and ready to go.”
Valour FC has four goals in their four matches – all four coming against Atlético Ottawa when the opponent was playing a man down. But the chances continue to be there and that is encouraging.
Again, too, is this: Valour FC still has control of how their story unfolds.
“I was saying this to some of the guys the other day because I heard some of them talking about other teams’ potential results,” said Ricci. “I just said we’re in the position right now that I like to be in because we control our own destiny.
“Regardless of what happens in other games, if we win, if we perform, if we do what we’re capable of, we will advance. I will take that any day of the week over being in the position of having to hope for another team to get a result, or other scores to go in our favour.”