Once would be considered an anomaly. Twice perhaps a tough break. But three, four times must now be considered an ugly trend.
Valour FC’s nasty penchant for crumbling in critical moments continued again Wednesday night in a 1-nil loss to Atlético Ottawa at IG Field in which the home side surrendered the winning goal in a defensive breakdown in the 84th minute.
Combined with a late goal conceded in a 1-1 draw in Edmonton, a goal against in extra time in a 2-1 loss to Cavalry and Wednesday’s lapse and Valour has left a possible four points on the table in the early stages of the Canadian Premier League season.
And for a team that missed the playoffs by just one point a year ago, that’s must be especially concerning.
Asked after the match if his club had to ‘learn from it’ and get ready for Sunday’s home match with FC Edmonton, GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos was succinct.
“Learn from it? What does that mean?,” Dos Santos said. “The truth is that we’ve been saying that… it’s what, how many points is it lost over minute 84 or 85 already this season?
“If we don’t learn after the first one, then the problem is bigger than just learning. OK, it happened once, twice, now three times. The game is dynamic. It’s the moment. They have to deal with the moment. That moment could come at minute five, it could come at minute 10. The game has 90 minutes and they need to play throughout the 90 minutes.
“Now how important are the next two games (including a home date with Cavalry on June 15th)? They’re very important. The truth is that you can’t afford to fall behind too far.
“… We need to do the job at home and one point of nine possible points in the last three games is not enough.”
Atlético Ottawa’s game-winning goal was a combination of some creativity by the visitors, but a defensive lapse by Valour. Ollie Bassett delivered a perfect pass into Valour territory to Carl Haworth and his pass from deep in the box out front was then buried by Zach Verhoven.
“Those are mistakes we can’t make,” said Dos Santos. “Can’t make.”
“It’s a tough one,” added fullback Brett Levis. “I feel like we’ve just given up way too many points late in games so far this year. It’s still very early, but we’ve all got to look at ourselves and figure out what’s going on.
“At the end of the day, this is a team, but individually we’ve got to come together and just make plays, especially in important times in games and make sure we don’t switch off.
“We have to be better. I’m very optimistic of what this team can achieve, but we have to stop dropping points, especially at home.”
The loss extinguished a glorious opportunity for Valour to move up the CPL standings. The loss drops the club to 2-3-3 for nine points and still in fifth place. A win would have moved them into third.
Ottawa, meanwhile, improves to 4-2-2 and is now tied for second with 14 points.
The defensive lapse was one concern for Valour, but Dos Santos was just as disappointed in what the club wasn’t able to do in the attacking zone. Valour had 54.7% of the possession, but just six shots and one on target.
“Not enough,” Dos Santos said. “Again, another game where in large parts of the game we had the ball. You have territorial control. We were installed in the opposition’s half and we weren’t able to create enough to have quality in our final product. A lot of opportunities to put crosses in and either they were over it or they didn’t find anyone.
“Not enough quality. We weren’t pragmatic enough at times when we needed to be. It’s hard to win games if you don’t create enough, if you don’t get into good areas – and then when you do the quality, for some reason, isn’t there. I just felt we were at times sloppy in the way we approached the game in the final third.”
ATLÉTICO OTTAWA 1 VALOUR FC 0
83:26’: Zachary Verhoven (assist: C. Haworth)
9:20’: Brett Levis (yellow, not retreating)
25:35’: Alex Riggi (yellow, reckless offence)
90+6:46’: Rocco Romeo (yellow, reckless offence)
90+1:36’: Sean Rea (yellow, reckless offence)
17:53’: Ballou Tabia (yellow, tactical foul)
36:52’: Miguel Acosta (yellow, reckless offence)
86:58’: Vladimir Moragrega (yellow, tactical foul)
90+6:53’: Drew Beckie (yellow, argument)
VALOUR STARTING XI
GK Rayane Yesli
D Andy Baquero
D Stefan Cebara
D Rocco Romeo
D Brett Levis
MF Daryl Fordyce – C
MF Diego Gutierréz
FW Sean Rea
FW Alex Riggi
FW William Akio
F Walter Ponce
38:01’ – On Moses Dyer; off Alex Riggi
64:42’ – On Jacob Carlos; off Walter Ponce
78:21’ – On Matthew Catavolo; off William Akio
78:30’: On Federico Pena; off Diego Gutierrez