“There’s a lot of room for improvement, but a lot of wins to come.”

It might be a tough sell right now to those outside the Valour FC clubhouse, but they’ve seen significant and concrete evidence of progress in their first two matches – albeit both losses.

And as this made-over roster continues to find some sort of cohesion and chemistry, its confidence hasn’t wavered in this belief: the results are coming.

“There’s definitely been improvement,” said Valour forward Jordi Swibel after a training session this week before the team headed out to Hamilton for Saturday’s match against Forge FC. “But there’s definitely more to give.

“At the end of the day, the game is about winning, and we know that. We take confidence from the things that we work on and there was progress, but at the end of the day if there’s no wins it’s something we need to look for. It will come. We’re a confident group. We work hard on the pitch, and we work hard when we’re training.

“We’ve just got to stay confident and trust in our ability and in what the gaffer wants from us and at the end of the day the results will come.”

Valour’s two losses came in Vancouver and Victoria and are part of an extended run of road matches to start the season as new turf is installed at Princess Auto Stadium. Saturday’s matinee against Forge FC at Tim Hortons Field will be the third of seven straight league games to open the year – eight consecutive if the Canadian Championship match against Atlético Ottawa next Wednesday in the capital is included.

“We’re a new group. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s 15 new players,” said Swibel. “That takes time, but that’s not an excuse. We’re a hard-working group and everyone is not only a great player, but a good person off the pitch and that’s really important in a change room.

“It’s a long season. It’s a long preseason. We’re a band of brothers – that’s kind of our motto this year – and we all look out for each other and not look for individual accolades and things like that. We’re going to stick together throughout the whole year.

“It’s a long year and there’s many points up for grabs and we’re only just getting started. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but a lot of wins to come.”

Valour FC GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos pushed his squad to be more aggressive without the ball following the 4-1 season-opening loss to Vancouver FC and the results were there in the first half of the 2-0 loss to Pacific. Still, the team has been burned by its mistakes and has yet to finish on its chances. It also needs to create more, with just 0.4 expected goals against Vancouver and .35 vs. Pacific.


Valour FC GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos

“We always knew this was going to be a process,” Dos Santos said. “We know we have to win games, but the team believes we are growing and there are a lot of good things we can take out of the two games so far – especially the second one.

“We’re working at the areas we need to grow in and hammering in on them. We know this team has quality and the goals are going to come. We have to clean up some of the mistakes we’ve made in the pressure moments, but I prefer to hold guys back in certain situations than to have to push them.

“We’re running the course. We’re mentally strong. We have to keep working.”

Dos Santos was asked about the mental battle of grinding without the results showing up and how that might affect the overall confidence. Bottom line business, after all, means wins are all that truly matters.

“If you get progress with no results, it could hit a bit. But we also have to understand what the schedule is like and the fact this team has made changes,” he said. “It’s part of our job as coaches to make sure what our group is facing in the next three games and where we’re at.

“We feel there’s progress and we’re closer to turning things around. Of course, we want to win every game. Of course, we want to be up there. But I don’t want this group to feel so much urgency they start making mistakes and get out of the identity of what we’re building.

“I know fans, I know some casual observers will look at things and wonder. Right now, we’re one point out of the playoff line and we haven’t played a home game. Let’s not start creating an issue that’s not there. Let’s stay the course.”