Final Score: York United 2-1 Valour FC Goalscorers: Wright 55', 61'; Levis 27' Game of the 2021 season: 77 CPL match: 212
Match in a minute or lessA pair of goals in the second half from 18-year-old Lowell Wright saw York United complete a comeback victory on Sunday afternoon, after Brett Levis gave visiting Valour FC the lead at York Lions Stadium. Levis opened the scoring in the 27th minute, playing the ball to William Akio before receiving it back and sliding the ball under a defender and into the bottom left corner. Valour took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but York had the majority of the scoring chances, outshooting the visitors 14-6 in the first half. Whatever Jimmy Brennan said to his team during the break worked, as York came out firing in the second half. Lowell Wright tied it up for the home team in the 55th minute, smashing home a perfectly weighted cross by Diyaeddine Abzi. Wright doubled his tally and scored the winning goal six minutes later, as York took advantage of a mistake at the back. Valour goalkeeper Matt Silva played the ball to Stefan Cebara on the right side of the Valour penalty area, but was quickly closed down by a pair of pressing York players. Cebara tried to dribble his way out of danger, but former Valour attacker Michael Petrasso poked the ball away to Wright, who made no mistake and fired the ball past Rodrigo Reyes on the goal line. York keep their fourth spot in the table, and more four points clear of fifth-placed HFX Wanderers. Valour -- sitting in sixth place -- are now six points back of The Nine Stripes and the fourth playoff spot.
Lowell Wright continuing to improve as a player, scores first braceStill just 18 years old, Lowell Wright has continued to take big strides with Jimmy Brennan's York United side in 2021, and has been getting better as the season has progressed. The young striker scored both of York's goals on Sunday -- bringing him up to four on the season and completing his first career brace. Wright's awareness to get himself into good positions is what helped him score both goals -- first making a good run to get on the end of a perfect cross from Diyaeddine Abzi, and then patiently waiting for the ball to come to him before firing home the winning goal as York took advantage of a mistake at the back. He is also a physically commanding player -- it takes a lot to outmuscle the 6'0 striker, and according to his head coach, he's continuing to improve as a player and starting to use his size to his advantage. "I think Lowell is constantly improving," said Jimmy Brennan after the match. "The one big thing that we wanted to work on was his hold-up play, and being physical because he's got such a big frame on him. He's got good weight, good power, strength, and he's got to utilize that and understand how and when to use it. He's starting to really get it and grasp it." Wright has started some big matches in recent times -- including this one in the midst of a tight playoff race, and York's Canadian Championship tie against Toronto FC at BMO Field midweek. "He's been great, and he's loving these moments that he's getting," Brennan added. "He obviously started the other night, he started again today, and we keep telling him to gamble in certain areas. When the ball is out wide, gamble when you get in the box. Think that ball is going to come across the six yard box, and make sure you're first there, and obviously when Abzi breaks down the line he did -- he gambled and went straight in... and it was a tap in for him." Wright was also happy with his performance after the match, and revealed a pregame request that he had for Abzi that the left back delivered on. "Funny enough, before the game I told Abzi 'give me an easy one today'," Wright said with a smile. "That's what he gave me for the first goal, so shoutout to him for that one. "Going into the dressing room down one, we talked about what we did wrong in the first half, but we didn't get down on ourselves. It's going to be a game, so we just had to keep brining it to them, and I was on the end of two good goals. First one was Abzi, and the second one was a good press by Mikey (Michael Petrasso) and Alvaro (Rivero) and I was there to pick up the pieces and put the ball in the net."
Valour score first to begin Dos Santos' tenure, but can't hold onValour took a 1-0 lead into halftime on Sunday, as Phillip Dos Santos' first game in charge started on a high note. Holding down the fort defensively through the opening half-hour, the visitors struck first on a goal from Brett Levis. Charging into the box from the left side of the goal, Levis passed the ball to William Akio, before it deflected back to the Valour midfielder. Levis opened up a lane to shoot and shot the ball between Dominick Zator's legs and into the bottom corner to give his side the lead. It was a good start to the match, but Lowell Wright's brace in the second half cancelled it out, as Valour fell 2-1 in Dos Santos' first match after taking over from Rob Gale on Thursday. There were things to like about how Valour played according to the new boss, who was really getting a look at his side for the first time in a game scenario. "It's hard to evaluate the team and personnel when you're far," said Dos Santos after the match. "I think that the important thing was to get my feet wet and get to know the group inside the competition. I felt that [the match] was a bit disjointed at times, a lot of shifts of momentum, and we're trying to focus on the [team's performance] but also looking at the individuals. "If there's a positive I take out of that it's the competitiveness that the guys showed, and their desire to do well, and the fact that I was able to assess the individuals and see what they are about and see what they can do in situations that are difficult. That's where I need to keep my mind, and say 'okay, this is the platform we have, and where do we go from here to grow', and that's how I'm going to go about it." Levis has some experience playing in Dos Santos' system, having played for Phillip and his brother Marc during his time with the Vancouver Whitecaps, a familiarity that came in handy on Sunday. "I knew him and Marc's system well," said Levis of playing for the first time under Dos Santos. "I was there for a year and a half with them, so obviously having that past relationship, I can help players and explain certain situations that they're confused about. It's always good to have prior knowledge. "There's such a short time frame where these games are coming, so unfortunately he can't sit down with every single player about every single scenario so it's always good to have a player that has a good understanding of what's going on."
Abzi unpredictable in attack, and a strong defender himselfYork United left back Diyaeddine Abzi is having another very good season in the CPL in 2021, and showed off his abilities on both sides of the ball on Sunday afternoon. On the defensive end, he led The Nine Stripes in tackles (three), and shared the team lead with Roger Thompson for interceptions (four), also adding a pair of clearances to an impressive defensive display. Going forward, Abzi completed 27 of 34 attempted passes (79.4%), and led his side in touches (71), as well as assisting Lowell Wright's equalizer. He regularly won the battle against Valour's Federico Peña in a solid all-around performance. All he was missing was a goal, which he came so close to scoring on multiple occasions within minutes of each other at the end of the first half. The York defender curled a free kick off the crossbar in the 38th minute, and fired the ball just wide moments later after twisting and turning his way past Peña. "You can see the amount of confidence he's gaining week in and week out," said Jimmy Brennan after the match. "He's a huge asset to the club and the team. I thought he would score that one, I think everyone would put some money down that he was going to score that shot when he dropped the shoulder and was pretty much one-on-one with the keeper and just missed the net. "You know Abzi is going to get those opportunities, he's going to get in those areas -- that's what he loves to do, he loves to run at players, he loves to take players on. As a defender it's difficult to mark him, because you don't know whether he's coming inside, he's going outside, and he has great pace." When Abzi is making those trademark runs down the left wing, everyone in Brennan's side benefits. He can start and finish chances on his own, but is also just as good at playing crosses in for his teammates. That was clear during the leadup to York's opening goal, as it was the left back's cross into the box that was smashed home by Wright. "Now you can start seeing that when he breaks down that left side, our other attackers are starting to make some good runs into the box becuase they know that ball will be coming over, and they want to get on the end of it," added Brennan. "Lowell did it today, that was a prime example of Abzi getting down the line and putting a ball across the box, and Lowell was at the right spot at the right time."
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchLowell Wright, York United The 18-year-old scored twice in the second half to earn York United all three points.
What’s next?York United are at home again next Sunday, October 3, as they host HFX Wanderers at York Lions Stadium (1 pm ET/ 2 pm AT). Valour head back home to IG Field to host Pacific FC on Wednesday, September 29 (6:45 pm CT/ 4:45 pm PT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.