Austin Ricci’s brace gives Valour FC first ever Canadian Championship win

Atlético Ottawa
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Ottawa, ON – It was a historic victory for Rob Gale’s Valour FC as Austin Ricci’s brace gives Valour FC the win at TD Place. The Winnipeg-based club’s 3-2 win over Atlético Ottawa marked the first-ever Canadian Championship victory in the short history of the club. Valour got by with a goal by Sean Rea and a second-half brace from Austin Ricci. Former New England Revolution striker Brian Wright got Ottawa on the board, while Viti Martinez added a late goal for Atlético, but it was too little too late.

Austin Ricci’s brace helps prevail Winnipeg over Ottawa

First Half

VFC got out to a good start in this one, nearly scoring three minutes in. William Akio found ran around two different Atletico defenders and forced Teodor Obadal into an important early save.

Valour continued to look like the better team for the majority of the night, but it was the home side who struck first. Stefan Cebara’s clearance was stolen by Brian Wright inside the penalty area, who calmly turned and struck for Ottawa. It was against the run of play, with Valour switching off for just a second and being punished for it.

 

After just 16 minutes, Valour was starring yet another deficit in the face. Having just one point in their last six league matches, VFC needed something positive to go their way. And fortunately for them, CF Montreal loanee Sean Rea’s moment of brilliance pulled Valour back on level terms.

After Rafael Galhardo’s original attempt at goal was blocked, Valour found Rea on the edge of the area and he drove inside towards goal and struck across his body into the far corner of the net. The goal was one Obadal probably could have made a better effort at saving. In the end, it was still pretty from Rea, and something Valour desperately needed before halftime.

 

Second Half

On Valour’s second goal, it was another MLS loanee that had a direct impact on the goal. This time it was Toronto FC’s central defender Rocco Romeo. Romeo made an aggressive tackle on the ball to win possession deep in his own half. He then uncharacteristically drove up the field at the Atletico defence before laying a ball off to William Akio. Akio played a square ball into Ricci who hammered it into the top of the goal to break the deadlock. Romeo’s risk paid dividends, and VFC was on top.

 

But Austin Ricci wasn’t don’t scoring just yet. Just one goal off the golden boot pace in the Canadian Premier League, Ricci made sure his goal-scoring would translate in the Canadian Championship. This time he took a long ball under control in the attacking third. He cut inside towards goal, and on his weaker left foot, doubled VFC’s lead. Ricci double-dipping in the space of three minutes was a good reward for his high work rate and tenacious pressing he is known for the game in and game out.

 

Ottawa wouldn’t go away quietly, however. Spaniard Viti Martinez was gifted an opportunity inside the penalty area after disorganized defending from Valour and he made no mistake. After it looked as though Ottawa had nothing left in the tank, VFC switched off once more and left Ottawa a chance. While it did not cost them too much on this occasion, it is something they need to clean up. Especially without the presence of Andrew Jean-Baptiste to mask these errors.

Final Thoughts – Austin Ricci’s brace plays a big part in Winnipeg’s win

For Valour, creating and finishing as many chances as they did was promising heading back into CPL play. For a team that had a shocking rise up the table and a very quick fall back down, it is important they believe they can get back there, even without some key players. That gauntlet of the Western CPL sides is proving to be difficult. After only scoring two goals in their winless stretch of six games, maybe this gives them confidence going forward.

Defensively, there are still concerns without Jean-Baptiste, who was so good for them in the bubble. Valour likes to play very fluidly with the ball but that can leave them open to counterattacks at times. The defence might not be at the level they would like it to be, but they were still able to do enough to go through to the next round.

 

Looking ahead

Next, up, Valour takes on FC Edmonton in CPL play Tuesday night. They will face Forge FC in the Quarter-finals in September at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario. Ottawa faces Forge FC in league play on Wednesday night.