It’s the unique part of the sport that pits a relative upstart against one of Canada’s storied franchises.
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Winnipeg’s Valour FC, part of the three-year-old Canadian Premier League, will face a Major League Soccer team for the first time when it faces the Whitecaps in Vancouver on Wednesday.
The match is part of the preliminary round of the Canadian Championship, a tournament featuring clubs from across the country, in several leagues, to determine Canada’s representative in the Concacaf Champions League.
“Everyone in the organization understands that it’s still a little bit of David vs Goliath,” Valour head coach/GM Phillip Dos Santos said. “For us to get something out of that game we’ll need to be very, very good, and that’s the responsibility we need to approach the game with.
“We all know what’s at stake. It’s a knockout game. These games are good for the players.”
Wednesday’s match marks a chance for Dos Santos to go against the team he spent nearly three years with an assistant coach, before leaving to join Valour this season.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “But I’m not a guy that gets on a high and wants the excitement to get in the way… once the whistle is blown it’s just going to be a game that I have to coach.”
A comparable football matchup might be a CFL team against one in the NFL. In hockey, an AHL squad facing an NHL team.
Does Valour even stand a chance?
“If I would say no, then we might as well not travel,” Dos Santos said. “We stay home and we call the league and say give them the match. Of course, we believe it’s capable. There’s been upsets in the past… these are games that could propel teams to very good things if you’re able to get something out of it.
“Where’s the pressure? 100% with them. I’m sure they know that.”
Vancouver has two wins and a draw in nine MLS games this season. Valour has a win and two draws in four CPL games.