Bravery has little room for error – Winnipeg Free Press

If Valor FC wants to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in team history, they need to hit their stride.

Wednesday night’s meeting with Forge FC at 7 p.m. at IG Field would be a good start.

The top four clubs in the Canadian Premier League standings advance to the playoffs and Winnipeg’s professional soccer team currently sits in fifth place with an 8-6-7 record and 30 points.

Rayane Yesli has only conceded two goals in the last five games. (Mike Sudoma files / Winnipeg Free Press)

Forge has played one less game, but is third with 36 points. Pacific FC is last in the playoffs with 35 points in 21 games played.

Valor and Forge will also play in Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon.

Valor picked up four points at home last week with a 1-1 draw against FC Edmonton and a 1-0 win over Pacific.

“We need to get a win out of those two games. We can’t create drama if we don’t get the three points (tonight),” Valor head coach and general manager Phillip Dos Santos said. Free press tuesday. “…I think (tonight) becomes a very important game for us. We’re going one by one and it starts with the one tomorrow. This is the one that is next and most important.

Valor found itself in a similar position last year. It all came down to the last game, a road game in Edmonton, and all Valor needed was three points to advance to the last four. Valor ended up coughing up three goals in the opening 50 minutes before rallying to win a 3-3 draw. The late push was too little too late.

“I was actually talking about it with some of the guys a few weeks ago and we were laughing about it and saying, ‘Let’s secure our playoff spot before that so we don’t have to rely on the last two games anymore,'” said defender Rocco Romeo.

“The character and the unity of the team is very, very tight. The guys have a good relationship with each other and at the moment I think we are in a good period. But these two upcoming games will be separation from where we need to be or where we fail.

With just seven matches to play, Valor has virtually no room for error. That’s what makes the decision to seat star goaltender Jonathan Sirois so surprising. Sirois, the LPC’s Goaltender of the Year last season, is healthy but has been benched for the past five games in favor of Rayane Yesli. But Yesli, a 22-year-old Montrealer, is taking advantage of the opportunity as he has conceded only two goals in five games.

“I said it at the start of the year that we have one of, if not the best goalkeeping duo in the league. It can’t just be words,” Dos Santos said.

“Ryane had his chance and he stepped up and the team played well in front of him. It helped him, but he did a good job… We don’t look at it individually. We’re looking at it in a team context and the team has done well, so we’re not moving around a lot and making lots of changes.

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Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Journalist

Eighteen-year-old and still in high school, Taylor made his Free Press debut on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of…

Christy J. Olson