Valor crushes Atlético Ottawa in a seven-goal forfeit

Valor FC celebrate defender Brett Lewis’ goal against Atletico Ottawa on April 24, 2022 PHOTO: Andrea Cardin/Freestyle Photography/CPL

As the old saying goes, “when it rains, it rains”.

Despite a beautiful sunny day at TD Place, Valor FC scored goals all over Atlético Ottawa’s defensive line. The former league leaders suffered a tough defeat losing 6-1 to the Winnipeg club at TD Place on April 24.

Going into the game, Atlético led the league with two wins from two games, while Valor tied for last place with one point from a possible six. Judging by the stats alone, one might have expected Ottawa to come away with a win, but Valor had other plans.

From the first minute of the game, Valor seemed hungry for goals. Their well-organized pressing defense forced Atlético to perform turnovers in Ottawa’s defensive third, creating plenty of chances for Valor throughout the afternoon.

It was a simple strategy of using defense to create offense, something Valor head coach Phillip Dos Santos said he expects from his team.

“We have to be a threat, we have to score goals in volume,” Dos Santos said. “But I want them to be as excited about defending, as excited about winning a duel as they are about scoring a goal.”

Dos Santos said that the continuation of this plan brings great energy and produces good results.

Good results followed for Valor, indeed.

Valor broke the deadlock from the penalty spot after striker Moses Dyer was brought down inside the box on a breakaway. Atlético goalkeeper Nathan Ingham dived in the right direction, nearly saving Dyer’s shot but letting it slip through his fingers.

In the 27th minute, Valour’s star winger William Akio battled three Atlético defenders before firing a low-powered cross towards the back post for striker Alessandro Riggi to exploit.

“[Akio] is probably one of [fastest players] in the league. He also has individual talent,” said Atlético head coach Carlos González. “This type of player can kill you with space.”

Ottawa woke up with its own offensive game. Winger Ballou Tabla beat his defender and tried to deliver a low cross which was cleared by the Valor defence. The cross only went to Atlético Keven midfielder Steven Alemán Bustos, who turned the clearance into a powerful strike from above the penalty area. Valor goaltender Jonathan Sirois stopped the shot.

The 39th minute found Akio in another one-on-one situation. This time he rolled the ball on his left foot just inside the penalty area and fired a shot that hit the post. The bounced ball fell into the feet of Riggi, who skied the ball over the net from close range.

Minutes after Riggi failed, Atlético players found themselves attacking Valour’s defence. Midfielder Maxim Tissot was played from the left side of the penalty area. What appeared to be a slightly missed cross from Tissot was thrown into the Valor net by an overcommitted Sirois.

At 2-1, Atlético seemed to have brought the game back to life, but Valor stuck to their game plan. In the 45th and 47th minutes, two minutes into added time, Valor doubled their lead to 4-1.

The third goal came from a set piece where defender Antonio Rocco Romeo headed in a goal that left Ingham with no chance to save it. Another rebound fell on Riggi again. This time he got it right and displayed his fancy footwork to beat his defender and send his shot into the bottom right corner.

“Instead of moving on at half-time and regrouping, we conceded two more goals and 2-1 [turned into] at 4-1. It was a big turning point,” said Atlético midfielder Oliver Bassett. “Maybe the game would have been different if we [went] in to [halftime] 2-1, but at 4-1, we just give ourselves a mountain to climb.

Valor FC celebrates a goal by defender Antonio Rocco Romeo on April 24, 2022 PHOTO: Andrea Cardin/Freestyle Photography/CPL

Unfortunately for Atlético, this mountain has only grown. Dyer added his second goal of the afternoon, five minutes into the second half, to make it 5-1.

Valor defender Brett Lewis then made an incredible run, leapfrogging several defenders before unleashing a flare of a shot from his weaker foot that bounced off the post and inside.

The five-goal win difference saw the Winnipeg-based club soar to third place ahead of Forge FC on goal differential. Ottawa now finds itself between Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton for the worst goal differential in the league.

Despite the deluge of goals for Valour, Atlético retain second place and have the chance to bounce back against York United at 7:30pm EST on Friday.

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