2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #14 York United vs. Valour FC July 7, 2021 at 10:00 pm ET/9:00 pm CT IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca

Valour FC still hasn’t dropped a point or conceded a single goal, and on Wednesday night they’ll look to make it four straight victories when they face York United at IG Field — this time with 2,000 fans allowed in the building. To date, Valour has shown a solidity and consistency in a trio of impressive displays, with all three coming in the form of the same 2-0 scoreline. The strength of the squad has been the spine as keeper Jonathan Sirois, central defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, central midfielder Raphael Ohin and attackers Austin Ricci and Kevin Aleman have all earned Gatorade Team of the Week nods for their efforts, Jean-Baptiste appearing in two consecutive weeks The support from outside the stadium has been well documented since The Kickoff got underway and now those cheering on the local club will actually get a seat for the action on Wednesday with head coach Rob Gale hoping they can reward their loyalty with another positive result: “Above all, I’m really happy for the fans, they’re always there for us,” Gale told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re excited to have them back and we’re just hoping that we can go out and give them something to cheer about.” At the other end of the pitch, York has shown a real knack for staying in tight games once again in 2021. Dating back to last year’s Island Games, the Nine Stripes have drawn six of their last 10 contests, the most in the league by some measure. Their resolute defending and set piece efficiency make them a difficult group to take all three points from and with young Canadian players like Diyaeddine Abzi and Lowell Wright excelling in attacking positions under Jimmy Brennan, they serve as “a great advertisement for the league” in the opinion of Gale. Despite the kind words from the opposition, York has to adapt the antagonist role as they prepare to play in front of away supporters for the first time since the 2019 season: “Our players will be looking forward to the match and we’ll be looking to cause an upset,” Brennan said of York’s mindset ahead of Wednesday. “Try and silence the crowd, take the sting out of the game and focus on what we need to do.” The points have been shared evenly between the two teams in their previous five matchups with each side winning twice in 2019 before playing to a 0-0 draw at last year’s Island Games. In the first CPL action with fans in the stands in over a calendar year, expect plenty of energy from both clubs as York looked to play spoiler and bring Valour’s dream start to the season to a halt on Wednesday at IG Field.

Valour formation: After consecutive clean sheets and two comprehensive victories, Rob Gale still elected to roll the dice against Atlético Ottawa on Saturday night. Granting U SPORTS Draft pick Tony Mikhael a debut at the back, Gale swapped his back four for a three-man defensive unit with Stefan Cebara and Andrew Jean-Baptiste slotting in to join Mikhael. While the 4-4-2 of Ottawa was cited as a key reason for the tweak, the adjustment also brought a different element to the Valour midfield as a double pivot of Daryl Fordyce and Raphael Ohin had plenty of success with the latter given much more of a licence to roam in this system. The case could be made that this side looked more comfortable in this newfound formation so it will be interesting to see if Gale elects to go back to a four-man backline in this one. Petrasso pushed up the pitch: After starting the first two matches in the right back slot, Michael Petrasso made a cameo appearance off the bench in a more central attacking position on Sunday against FC Edmonton and rewarded his gaffer with the equalizing goal which ultimately earned his side a point. Fresh off a loan stint with English club Barnet FC where the 25-year-old scored 10 times in all competitions, his directness and versatility make him a unique asset for Brennan and York moving forward: “For him to adapt to different situations within a game, it’s not a problem for him and I thought he was great the other night.” In a side that struggles to find goals from open play at times, it will be interesting to see if Brennan opts to give Petrasso a more extended look further up the field against Valour and down the stretch at The Kickoff. Impact of energy levels from fans: Generally speaking, the level of quality in each of the club’s first three matches has been better than many likely expected given the current realities most teams faced ahead of the season starting. Mass substitutions have been a common theme around the hour mark in most games — add in injuries and adverse weather conditions and it’s understandable that we might be due for a dip in entertainment. What’s worth keeping an eye on however is how the return of the supporters in the stadium plays a role in the work rate Wednesday night, not only with Valour but for York in embracing their role as the visitor as they look to snatch their first win of the season.

York United wins: 2 || Valour FC wins: 2 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

August 22, 2020 – York United 0-0 Valour FC


“They’ve got that little buzz and they’re going to be fired up once the fans start coming in, but it’s a good test for us to see where we’re at.” — Jimmy Brennan, York United head coach

“They’re pacey, they’re direct, they love to get at players… so it’s a very difficult, very challenging opposition.” — Rob Gale, Valour FC head coach

Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!

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