May 4, 2019; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Valour FC midfielder Michael Petrasso (9) takes a penalty kick in the second half against the FC Edmonton during a Canadian Premier League soccer match at Investors Group Field. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
Valour FC’s Canadian Premier League debut – a stretch of five matches in 15 days to open their inaugural season – was a schedule smorgasbord which was at times difficult to digest.
And now, after a two-week stretch without any fixtures at all, it’s time for the lads to eat again.
“Hopefully,” Valour FC GM and head coach Rob Gale said after a training session earlier this week, “that layoff has left us hungry and ready to play and willing to play.”
When it was suggested his club must be starving, given the long layoff, Gale grinned and then added another bon mot:
“We want to be an angry bear that’s just woken up from hibernation and we’ve got a nice little rabbit right in front of us sitting on the doorstep, so let’s get after it.”
It’s worth noting here the cleverness behind the bear-vs.-rabbit analogy – Valour FC returns to action Saturday night, 5:30 p.m., at Clarke Field against FC Edmonton, AKA the Eddies, also feature a rabbit as their mascot.
Even with the long layoff, Valour FC still sits third in the CPL standings at 2-3 and with six points – well back of unbeaten Cavalry FC (5-0, 13 points) and Forge FC (4-2-1, 13 points). FC Edmonton, meanwhile, fell to 1-2-1 after a 2-0 loss to Forge on Thursday.
Both squads are looking for some more offensive punch, with Valour FC having scored four goals in five matches and Edmonton with just two goals in their four appearances.
Valour FC has hardly been sitting on their thumbs during the long layoff. Gale and his staff had the group do a little self-evaluation to start the break, and have been working on improving their set pieces, which have been an issue to start the season.
“The first week was about taking stock of exactly who we are, what we’re about and what they felt individually they could do more,” Gale explained. “We challenged everyone in the squad to have a real good look at their own statistics, have a good look at their performances and maybe take that step back and say, ‘Where do I need to go?’ and where do they see themselves. Then we tried to build that into the units and say, ‘This is us as a team and this is what we’ve done well and what we have not.’
“Now this week it’s about us getting sharp and hungry and ready for a game.”
“We took a day to reflect, took a day to ourselves and it’s always nice to get away from football sometimes and clear your head,” added captain Jordan Murrell. “The next day after that it was straight back to work. We’re back out improving our fitness levels, we’re back out organizing tactically, technically… every facet of the game we need to be better and we’re out here every single day trying to get better.”
Valour FC has also been tinkering with a number of different lineup combinations during the long hiatus. Centre back Adam Mitter has been cleared for contact this week, but might not be quite ready to go Saturday in Edmonton.
Fans can expect to see dynamic midfielder Michael Petrasso back in action.