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Valour FC Eskander Mzoughi

First Past The Post: Valour, Vancouver Reach U-21 Minute Requirement

By on June 26, 2023 0 1398 Views

Both of the Canadian Premier League’s ‘VFC’ clubs hit the required 2,000 minute marker for minutes handed to domestic U-21 athletes last night.

It came as no surprise for Valour FC fans, with the Winnipeg-based side entering the weekend needing just 88 minutes of game time to hit the marker, and both Eskander Mzoughi and Juan Pablo Sanchez getting starts.

Vancouver FC needed a hearty 288 minutes to reach the same marker, but also managed to pass the threshold in their one-nil loss.

Valour FC Matteo de Brienne
Matteo de Brienne has also been a big source of minutes. (Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League)

Valour’s Phillip Dos Santos has completed a remarkable transition away from depending on loaned athletes, who can only maximum of 1,000 minutes, to his roster: with the CF Montreal pipeline for Jonathan Sirois and Sean Rea now dried up, he’s invested serious minutes into Sanchez, de Brienne, Mzoughi, and Ulloa.

There are already rumours that Matteo de Brienne has attracted some MLS interest, though it remains to be seen if there is anything concrete to a claim made by Transfermarkt on the day they happened to update CPL player values.

Whatever the case, Valour – who sit fifth in league standings after dispatching Vancouver FC through a penalty last night – is certainly trusting the kids.

The other VFC also reached the 2,000 minute milestone after the match, with head coach Afshin Ghotbi’s decision to sign the league’s youngest player proving to be smart recruitment.

The biggest youth minute contributor for Vancouver has been first-year pro Tyler Crawford, though Ghotbi has added minutes from seven eligible players – the most of any team in the league.

On the lowest end of the domestic U-21 minutes scale is York United, who entered the weekend on 268 minutes and will need to average over 100 per match for the rest of the season to get past the same marker. As Vancouver showed, however, sometimes your minute count can go up by leaps and bounds.

Still, York’s current position is a stark contrast to them being first past the post last year, with the club having sold U-21 starters like Isaiah Johnston and Ronan Kratt, while Osaze De Rosario aged out of the category.

York United Eleias Himaras 2023
Eleias Himaras got his first start of the season midweek. (Photo Credit: John Jacques)

The Nine Stripes faced another setback into this with Markiyan Voytsekhovskyy suffering a foot injury midweek. Outside of him and backup goalkeeper Eleias Himaras, just eleven minutes had been handed out elsewhere heading into the weekend, where Noah Abatneh earned his first start though necessity.

There’s still just over half of the season left for Canadian Premier League clubs to reach the required marker, so there warning signs aren’t set to full brightness for everyone else just yet.

Clubs who fail to reach it will miss out on playoffs regardless of their league position, however, so there’s plenty at stake. That’s a non-issue for Valour and Vancouver, though.

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