2021 CPL regular season — Match #77 York United vs. Valour FC September 26, 2021 at 2:00 pm ET/ 1:00 pm CT York Lions Stadium, Toronto, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here

The Phillip Dos Santos era begins on Sunday, as his Valour FC side head east to take on York United at York Lions Stadium. Replacing Rob Gale as Valour's head coach and GM on Thursday, Dos Santos takes over during the middle of a tight playoff race -- Valour FC are currently in sixth place, two points behind HFX Wanderers and three behind The Nine Stripes, who sit in the fourth and final playoff spot entering Sunday's match. Sunday's match has the potential to impact the standings in a big way, as those three sides continue to battle it out for a playoff spot. York and Valour have met twice already in 2021 -- both times at The Kickoff, in the season-opening bubble at Valour's IG Field -- with York winning the first match on July 7th. Andrew-Jean Baptiste scored just five minutes into the match, but Lowell Wright and Dominick Zator scored for York as they completed the comeback for their first win of the season. They met again a few weeks later -- with the home side avenging their earlier defeat. Valour won 3-0, with a goal from Stefan Cebara in the 18th minute, and goals from Austin Ricci in either half. The former York striker's double helped his team to a commanding win, as they continued their brilliant start to the season. The two have met on seven occasions all-time, each winning three times and drawing once. Valour have cooled off since the bubble ended, picking up just five points in the ten games since. York have had the opposite fortunes, losing just twice in the CPL -- both times to Forge FC -- and once in the Canadian Championship, a 4-0 loss to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC on Wednesday. Both sides will be missing a key defender through suspension, as Chrisnovic N'sa of York United serves a match ban for yellow card accumulation, and Rocco Romeo of Valour finishes his three-match suspension after a red card against Cavalry on September 8th.

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  • Dos Santos aims to get Valour back on track: Only hired on Thursday, and meeting the team for the first time that same morning, new Valour FC boss Phillip Dos Santos hasn't had very much time to work with his new squad yet. What formational or tactical changes he makes to the squad remain to be seen, but Dos Santos was adamant in his introductory press conference on Thursday that Valour can still make the playoffs and finish the season on a high. "The energy seemed there, the desire’s there, and I think that they need to feel the responsibility as part of this organization that there’s objectives that were set at the beginning of this season,” Dos Santos said. “We’re still on track for those objectives, so we all need to embrace the responsibility that we have and try to get across that line and make it up. I feel that when there’s a situation like this it’s not only the coach, there’s little things that we probably all have to work on, and I want players to also feel that responsibility. If we haven’t met, or checked all the boxes that led the club being where they come to a decision like this, why did that happen and what do we do going forward? And I want them to realize that there’s part of that responsibility in them but also go with confidence that we’re still in the run.” Life after Rob Gale starts on Sunday, and if Valour are to get back into a playoff spot, it has to start soon.​
  • CPL playoff race heats up: Sunday's match is one of those so-called "6-point games". With Valour (7-2-9, 23 points) three points back of The Nine Stripes (6-8-5, 26 points), a win would see them move equal on points. Should York win, they'd be six points up on Valour, and in a commanding position to hang onto a playoff spot. HFX Wanderers (6-7-6, 25 points) added even more pressure to both sides on Saturday, beating FC Edmonton 1-0 and jumping over Valour in the standings. A Joao Morelli goal earned HFX three more points, leaving them on 25 points after 19 matches. This will be York's 20th match of the season, while HFX and Valour are hitting match number 19, giving them an extra opportunity to make up those points. However Sunday's match ends, it has the potential to have major playoff implications.​
  • York goalkeepers battle for playing time: York United have two very strong goalkeepers available to them -- Nathan Ingham and Niko Giantsopoulos. Both are capable of starting in the CPL, and have both had opportunities this year, with Ingham starting 13 times in CPL action and both of the club's Canadian Championship games, and Giantsopoulos starting six times in the league, and getting a seventh appearance off the bench as Ingham was forced to leave a match . Ingham got the start midweek against Toronto FC, making seven saves, and has been in good form recently -- starting the last six matches for The Nine Stripes. "It's performance-based," said Brennan on Friday. "I rely really heavily on Camilo Benzi, our goalkeeping coach. As anybody in football knows, they have their own union, they deal with the goalkeepers every single day, they're constantly working together and always talking together when the rest of the team is off and working on other parts of the game. We've got a plan of how we want to work this, and everyday we're talking to make sure the 'keepers are ready when their opportunity, and Nate's got in and he's done a great job over the last three games, apart from the TFC match. In the domestic league he's kept three clean sheets so he's been in very good form, I thought he made some great saves too the other night. Same with Niko, he's a quality goalkeeper as well and the two are pushing each other, and that's what you want."​


York United wins: 3 || Valour FC wins: 3 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

July 18, 2021 — Valour FC 3-0 York United


"It's always difficult when a new manager comes in because you don't know how he's going to play, what his tactics are going to be. We've got an idea of what they might want to do. Because we're at home, we've got to make sure we stick to our gameplan and execute on the day." -- York United head coach Jimmy Brennan

"It was clear in my head that I wanted the next move. “I felt this was the time for me. I believe that I’m a better person at 43 for this job, more prepared, more experienced. I’ve seen more, not only in the job but also in my management of people but how to go and get the maximum out of individuals.” " -- Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos

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