Valour FC’s frustrating inconsistencies in this 2024 Canadian Premier League season were right there in full display and in vivid colour Friday night at Princess Auto Stadium.

Playing some of their best football of the campaign — and, perhaps, some of their worst, too — the home side fell 3-2 to Pacific FC in a performance that saw them gift-wrap a penalty, fall behind 2-nil before rallying to tie it in dramatic fashion… and then have the eventual match winner decided with an own goal in the 75th minute.

The loss, coming in front of 3,032 supporters in south Winnipeg, drops Valour to 2-1-7 on the season and keeps the club in seventh-place in the CPL table, while Pacific improves to 4-4-2 and moves into second spot behind front-running Atlético Ottawa.

“We didn’t show up. We didn’t fight,” said Valour GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos of the first half. “We went to halftime and I’m not a screamer, I’m not a guy that’s going to throw things. I tried to be constructive but there’s moments when they need to be shaken a little bit. For me, it’s this: you’re playing against 11 and if it looks like the opposition has three-four players more than you it’s because you’re giving them way too much space, you’re allowing them to play, allowing them to move into those spaces.

“We weren’t good enough. We were giving them the space, we weren’t closing them down. If this group needs to be shaken, then we shake them. And then I liked the reaction. we played a good second half. We looked more like a team that understood the importance of being urgent in our actions. For me, that comes even when the score is 0-0. Football is played with intensity. Football is played with passion. Football is played with ambition.

“Until we have the humility to understand we don’t play like that just when we’re down in the score, you can put yourself in the position you put yourself in today. Their response was very good. Their (match-winning) goal came at a time when I really thought we were closer to the 3-2 for ourselves.”

A player in a black uniform stands on the field during a break in playAbdul Binate takes a breath as a teammate traps the ball. (Cameron Barlett)

Valour was sleepy early against a Pacific team fighting the injury bug and with goalkeeper Daniel Zadravec making his first pro start with the Tridents first two keepers out with sickness and injury. Still, the home side didn’t test him nearly enough — while giving up chance after chance in their own end — falling behind on a penalty by Sean Young in the 19th minute after Valour keeper Jonathan Viscosi collided with an attacker to the turf in the box. The lead grew to 2-nil 14 minutes later on a goal by Andrei Tircoveanu, but in extra time just before half Shaan Hundal scored his first of the season to give Valour life.

That momentum carried into the second half as Valour looked like a team possessed, attacking Pacific in wave after wave and equalizing the score on Jordi Swibel’s team-leading fifth goal of the season.

Yet, that’s when the match changed in a moment, as a Pacific free kick into the box was headed by Hundal into his own net for the winner.

“We came back in the second half, responded well from 2-0 down to bring it back 2-2… and then an unlucky own goal,” said Hundal. “It happens, but I take fault for that one. I’m proud of the team with the way we responded. It shows if we do that consistently — come out fast to start the games and show what we did in the second half — I think we can be pretty surprising for the league.”

Asked where that optimism comes from, given the team’s record, Hundal added this:

“We all know how the league is. Everything is going to stay tight. Two or three wins from us changes everything, changes the dynamic, changes the way people look at our team. I genuinely believe in our team. If we can come from 2-0 down to a team like Pacific, a good team, it shows what we can do.

“We show glimpses of it, it’s how we stretch it out for a full 90 minutes. That’s why I’m optimistic. We can do it, it’s just putting it together in a 90-minute display and if we get two-three wins in a row then everyone’s talking about us in the league and how we can contend for something.”

Valour FC 2 Pacific FC 3

Valour FC
46:21’: Shaan Hundal
62:43′: Jordi Swibel; assist: Diogo Ressurreição
Pacific FC
18:10’: Sean Young (penalty kick)
32:43’: Andrei Tircoveanu; assist: Steffen Yeates
74:22′: Own goal (Shaan Hundal)

Card summary
Valour FC
54:13’: Raphael Ohin (yellow, tactical foul)
79:43′: Roberto Alarcon (yellow, argument)
Pacific FC
59:14’: Reon Moore (yellow, not retreating)
79:41′: Josh Heard (yellow, argument)
88:15: Steffen Yeates (yellow, time wasting)
94:45′: Cédric Toussaint (yellow, reckless offence)

GK – Jonathan Viscosi
D – Roberto Alarcon
D – Haris Chantzopoulos
D – Tass Mourdoukoutas
D – Themi Antonoglou
MF – Raphael Ohin (C)
MF – Juan Pablo Sanchez
FW – Diogo Dias Da Ressureicao
FW – Abdul Binate
FW – Shaan Hundal
F – Jordi Swibel

Valour substitutions
57:49’: On Jordan Faria; off Abdul Binate
77:21′: On Zach Sukunda; off Shaan Hundal
81:56′ On Frankie Facchineri; off Roberto Alarcon