Valour FC became the second side to be eliminated from Canadian Premier League playoff contention, losing 1-0 to the other side out of the race, Vancouver FC, at IG Field on Wednesday.
After receiving his first international youth call-up earlier this week to Canada’s U-17 side, Vancouver FC’s TJ Tahid celebrated with his third goal of the season, a thunderous half-volley that proved to be the match-winner. Callum Irving, meanwhile, made a pair of saves to keep Vancouver’s first clean sheet since their last meeting with Valour on August 6.
With the win, Vancouver FC leap Valour in the table into seventh place. They have also now scored against all seven other sides in the CPL, as coming into the match the Winnipeg side was the only club against which they had not scored.
The visiting Vancouver FC started well, especially through some good work from Shaan Hundal who in the sixth minute dispossessed Klaidi Cela in his own box, before flashing a shot across goal and wide of the Valour net.
Valour, however, quickly took control of proceedings and had an excellent chance of their own through a low cross from Kian Williams in the 13th minute. However, nobody on the Valour side was in the box to finish it off. They came close again on a set piece in the 16th minute but Guillaume Pianelli’s header was well wide.
The match went into a little bit of a lull thereafter with Valour controlling most of the ball but failing to create enough in the final third to truly threaten Irving. Vancouver, meanwhile, created a few half-chances in transition but all were easily dealt with by Darlington Murasiranwa, who was making his first home start for Valour FC this season.
Valour finally tested Irving for the first time in the 37th minute as Juan Pablo Sanchez found himself in space outside the box and fired a shot that the veteran Vancouver keeper was forced to tip over the net. That was the last real chance of the half, as for the fourth time this season these two clubs headed to halftime with the score 0-0.
Looking for a spark early in the second half, Valour made a double substitution as they brought on Andy Baquero and Pacifique Niyongabire. The latter nearly made an instant impact, as less than a minute in he had a shot blocked by Vancouver defender Anthony White that looked to have struck his hand, but it went uncalled.
The Valour winger had an even better chance in the 64th minute as he picked off a back pass, but his effort flashed across goal and well wide. Vancouver then came close a few minutes later as their substitute, Tahid, found Hundal in the box who in turn found Gabriel Bitar wide open in the box. Bitar’s shot was on target but Murasiranwa made an excellent save to keep the match tied 0-0.
Valour continued to push, and in the 75th minute, they had a number of chances as the ball bounced around the Vancouver box. But the visitors were somehow able to keep it out of their net, however, as Valour’s frustration in front of goal continued.
With Valour’s season on the line, however, it was Vancouver who were able to find the breakthrough. Tahid got on the end of a deflected pass with a thunderous half-volley across goal that beat Murasiranwa to make the score 1-0.
Knowing that only a victory would save their season, Valour continued to push until the final whistle, but Vancouver FC held on for their sixth win in club history.
Tahid’s goal was the first that. This was also just Vancouver’s second-ever victory away from home, another big moment for the expansion side as they look for a strong finish to their inaugural season.