JENKINS: Valour's Dyer an example of CPL's international success stories
The Canadian Premier League was created to be a vessel to guide Canadians to professional careers, to spotlight them and give them opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have. The timing, as we learn with each passing month, was perfect. And not just for domestic players. Some of the CPL's international signings are proving their worth.
One of those players, who was born and raised on the opposite side of the globe, is becoming one of the poster boys of the CPL’s international contingent.
Auckland, New Zealand is 13,000 kilometres from Winnipeg. Moses Dyer was raised in the capital where he grew up playing rugby and football. He’s a natural athlete and excelled at both sports but ultimately decided to pursue the football route over New Zealand’s national sport. It was the right decision.
By 2014, the 24-year-old graduated from the Auckland City youth ranks and landed with—the ironically named—Wanderers SC, another Auckland-based club. As the calendar flipped to 2015, clubs around the world, and the All Whites themselves, were beginning to take notice.
His success in Aotearoa led to stints with Norwich in March of that year, around the time of his senior debut with the All Whites. After a wild debut with the senior team, Moses began featuring for the All Whites’ youth teams and those experiences gave him renewed confidence. Dyer returned to the first team for World Cup qualifiers, an international friendly against Japan, and his most recent cap at the Intercontinental Cup against India in June of 2018. He scored his first international goal in that match but hasn’t received another call since, leaving him on 11 caps.
The next month, Dyer made his professional leap abroad, signing with Florø in the Norwegian second division. Despite fielding a strong side, they were relegated at the end of the season and year two was met with more struggles, and for Moses, several injuries.
“After the season, I was a bit stuck. I couldn’t go on trial because my knee was in pieces and I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” Dyer recalled. “The club wouldn’t really help me, I didn’t know what was wrong and I was struggling to walk at one point.”
The recovery was progressing slowly, and as a result, the phone started ringing less and less, that is until former Valour boss Rob Gale gave him a call.
“There was something that excited me; a change of scenery. Even though I like being out of my comfort zone, it was nice to be in an English-speaking country, even though our team was full of French and Spanish people,” added Dyer with a smirk. “I did my homework on the league and it looked amazing, and I knew there was potential for growth, especially with the 2026 World Cup being held in North America.”
The 2020 Island Games didn’t go Valour’s way, but again, Dyer wasn’t backing down from the challenge. He was embracing life in Canada and even had the chance to connect with numerous family members in Toronto that he had never met before.
“I’ve got pretty much endless uncles, aunties, and cousins, so we connected after the season. Even when I left, I had no idea I had family in Canada. Now I have endless," Dyer added.
Last year, Valour stormed out of the gates. They were the top dogs after the Kickoff in Winnipeg, but things quickly unravelled.
“When we came out of the bubble we just didn’t click,” Dyer reflected. “It turned into a mindset thing, also. Once you end up losing four, five games in a row, it starts to creep into your head, and I think a lot of the boys put extra pressure on themselves because we know we’re good enough.”
The free-fall resulted in the mid-season sacking of Rob Gale, the man who brought the Kiwi to Canada. Phillip Dos Santos came in and provided a wake-up call to the group, leading to many players rediscovering their game and embarking on a thrilling late-season run.
Dyer was Valour’s de facto choice for penalties last season. He scored three of them in the club’s first six matches, but his first goal from open play didn’t come until his start under the direction of the new gaffer. It was the first of six that Moses would score down the stretch, including a brace in a 3-3 draw in Edmonton that extinguished the Winnipeggers’ playoff hopes.
GOAL 🎖— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 30, 2021
Moses Dyer with a fantastic off-balance effort to find the equalizer for @ValourFootball against @Pacificfccpl, its now 1-1#CanPL 🇨🇦 | 📺 TELUS ch. 980 | 🔴 https://t.co/hishXepRT3 pic.twitter.com/odXYbl7a8Z
Dos Santos will have a full season to implement his tactics and style in Winnipeg, and the side’s offseason moves and tremendous run to end the season will leave many supporters and players optimistic about their side’s chances in 2022.
“I’m really excited about the new season,” Dyer said. “Consistency will be key but also focus. We get our mind right, we get really fit, stay sharp and stay focused from minute one to minute ninety.”
The parity increases in the CPL every season. The gap between clubs is shrinking substantially, and Valour is right in the mix to make some noise. The men in maroon are not to be underestimated, and from this season's opener to Match 28, the other seven sides in the league are in for a battle.
Expecting anything else could be dire, or should I write, Dyer?