Final Score: York United 1-3 Valour FC Goalscorers: De Rosario; Riggi, Dyer, Rea Game of the 2022 season: 45 CPL match: 296
Match in a minute or lessFor the first time this season, York United conceded three goals as Valour came into York Lions Stadium and picked up a big victory in a match between two sides starving for points. Alessandro Riggi, Moses Dyer and Sean Rea scored for Valour, while Osaze De Rosario found the back of the net for York, giving them their first league goal in seven matches. It was Valour's first win since May 15, when they also defeated York. The win allowed Valour to leap-frog York in the table, as they are now up into sixth.
Valour gets crucial victory to kick off difficult road stretchCavalry played three away matches in Ontario to start the 2022 season, and picked up just a single point and a pair of goals. Pacific did the same earlier this month and picked up just a single point and a single goal themselves. Valour, who began a stretch of four of five games away in Ontario, already has three points and three goals to their name. Coming into today's match, Valour coach Phil Dos Santos mentioned that at this stage in the season, because of the gaps developing in the table, maximizing points was incredibly important. Even on the road, a single point was no longer "good enough", which was why getting all three today to kick off that tough road stretch was critical. "Very, very important, I think that we started off playing with the urgency of a team who needed the three points," said Dos Santos, "and it was getting a bit frustrating because we felt that we were always close from dangerous areas but not enough, not getting enough to goal. But I think the guys kept their cool and they just kept going and then the game opened up for us." Valour has already picked up more points outside of Winnipeg than they did all of last season. But Dos Santos mentioned it is important that they now match that solid road form when they play at home. It did, for a moment, look like the sides were destined to split the points after York scored less than a minute after Valour's opener. This has been a bit of an issue for the Winnipeg side all season, who can quickly switch off after scoring. This time, however, they responded well, adding two more before full-time. "We took our foot off the gas, and we got punished for it," said Valour defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste. "After that, we put our foot back on the gas and there goes the rest of that."
Quick, decisive Valour front four cause nightmares for tired York sideSome 30 per cent of the goals scored against York all season came in today's match. Against the league's best defensive team, Valour showed a ruthlessness in front of goal that they haven't since they stunned Ottawa 6-1 back in April. The visitors managed 17 shots, seven of which were on target, and 1.82 expected goals during a strong offensive showing. "When the game is a bit more open, or when we are able to open it up, we always create," said Dos Santos. "When York now has to chase the game and open the game up a bit more, it gets better for our front line. So important to score first in any game. But I think a team like ours benefits from that." They created those goals through being strong in transitional moments, as well as quick and decisive combination play from their front four of Riggi, Walter Ponce, William Akio and Rea. The below graphic shows the number of key passes (passes that led to a shot attempt) from their attackers during the match. "That's one of the things our team is quite good at, with the quality of players we have," said Jean-Baptiste. "Is, I'm not gonna say words like 'Tiki Taka' or anything but this is what we look to do, we look to play and that's the quality that we have." This became especially true as York, who only had eleven outfield regulars available for the match due to injury and suspension, clearly tired as the match went on. Not to mention the fact that they were returning from Vancouver after having played a gruelling Canadian Championship sem-final against the Whitecaps on Wednesday. Midfielders stopped tracking back, allowing Valour's attackers even more open areas to operate. While this was a factor that Valour knew could be part of the match, they prepared as if it were not a factor. "I never brought it up to our players," said Dos Santos. "I always prepare our team for the best possible opposition. But as coaches you always have that in the back of your head, it is a lie when you say that it doesn't cross your mind. But you still have to come in and do your job, because this is a team who has defended very well since the very beginning of the season." One final advantage for Valour's attack, that York manager Martin Nash pointed out after the match, was the fact that York's keeper Niko Giantsopoulos suffered a quad injury early in the game that prevented him from being able to kick the ball well. This took away a passing option for the Nine Stripes, and allowed Valour to further press the home side. The visitors won the ball seven times in the final third, including on a sequence that led to their opening goal.
With Abzi gone, York favour attacking down the right through FerrariBlessed with a wealth of very good wide players, the flanks have always been the primary point of York's attack this season. But in their first game without talisman Diyaeddine Abzi, York needed a new focal point of their attack. They found it quickly through 21-year-old winger Max Ferrari. Playing on the right-wing, Ferrari was very often the player furthest forward for York, using his pace to get in behind or launch an attack after receiving a long diagonal ball out of the back from Jordan Wilson. In total, 40.4% of York's attacks came down the right side during the match. "We just wanted to get him in the best areas for him," said Nash. "He is successful when he is high and wide, and gets in behind, and has a chance to run at players. I thought he did a good job today, he got in some great areas, put in some good balls." Nash followed that up by calling Ferrari one of the most dangerous wingers in the league. The below graphic shows just how high up the pitch Ferrari found himself most of the match, his average position is demonstrated by the black #16 dot. Once on the ball, Ferrari was consistently dangerous. Whether it was distribution, nine crosses and 12 passes in the final third, chances created (2 shots, 5 touches inside the box) or dribbling (seven attempted, three successful dribbles). He also played a key through ball that led to York's first goal in seven matches. Ferrari's positioning also served a defensive role, as Brett Levis was unable to get forward as much as he would have liked to because he was forced to keep the young winger in check. Ferrari did tire a little bit towards the end of the match, however, and Levis was finally able to find some attacking joy, including playing a brilliant ball to Akio on the third Valour goal.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchSean Rea, Valour FC This was a difficult choice, as Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Alessandro Riggi also had player of the match worthy performances. But Rea continues to be the difference-maker for Valour in key moments, providing a perfect cross for the winning goal before putting the game to bed himself late.
What’s next?Valour continues a brutal road swing when they visit Hamilton on Wednesday to take on Forge (7:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. CT) at Tim Hortons Field. York, meanwhile, gets a bit of much-needed rest before they travel to Edmonton on Friday, July 1 for a Canada Day matchup with the Eddies (6:00 p.m. ET).
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