Beland-Goyette Seeking To Prove Himself Back Home
Louis Beland-Goyette is keen for another go in the Canadian Premier League.
The 26-year-old midfielder is no stranger to Canada’s top flight, having spent time with both Valour and the Halifax Wanderers throughout the league’s first two seasons. Having now experienced playing abroad in the Maltese Premier League, the Quebec-born midfielder hopes to carve out another opportunity back closer to home.
Beland-Goyette had made eleven appearances for Gudja United since arriving as a late summer addition last year, but a combination of factors – both personal and financial – led to an early return home in January. He’s been biding his time since, waiting for an opportunity to return to the pro league in which he’d previously made over thirty appearances.
On His Time In Malta
Beland-Goyette’s venture in Malta was the midfielder’s first time playing abroad, and he wasn’t afraid to admit it wasn’t all sunshine like the Mediterranean beaches might make it seem.
“It was really difficult, it was my first time being away from from my family and my girlfriend, so it was tough. I’ve done long distance, even in Canada, you know, I’ve done long distance. But then financially, there were there was a couple problems going with the club, so it just made no sense for me to stay there. So, I decided to come back.”
When he first landed with Gudja United, the midfielder impressed during preseason camp and immediately broke into the starting lineup to make ten straight appearances, with his final and eleventh appearance seeing him score a goal in a 2-1 loss to thirteen-time Maltese champion Hibernians FC. He found the league played at a good level overall, and he made his mark on what ended up being Gudja United’s best season in club history.
The holiday window saw Louis make the decision to return home, however, and by chance the midfielder opted to do so just around the time former Cavalry striker Ahinga Selemani was giving the club a go. His fellow Canadian roomed with him for a few days, but the timing was such that Louis was on a plane not long after.
“It was disappointing timing,” he reflects, “I told him everything I knew, and if he needed any help, because by then I told them I was leaving.”
On Appreciating The Growing Canadian Game
Born in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, the midfielder had never been too far from the Canadian game before his recent experience abroad.
Beland-Goyette got his start in the PDL with the Montreal Impact U-23, making eight appearances in 2014 before turning professional with the MLS side later that year. After a few first team appearances, he was moved to the club’s USL affiliate where he spent the next two seasons before punching his way back up to the MLS side for a further two years.
After that came the Canadian Premier League, with Valour FC picking up the midfielder in 2019. He proved a hot commodity in a midfield featuring Marco Bustos and Michael Petrasso, and transferred to the Halifax Wanderers the following season. Even after jumping abroad, he followed the action closely.
“Following the league made me miss it,” he admits. “Being Canadian, I felt proud of the league. I was showing it to some teammates in Malta, and the fact that we have OneSoccer showing games that you can watch in any country is amazing. In Malta, it’s impossible to stream or broadcast anything for people in Canada. I watched all of the games, and it made me miss it. It made me want to be there, if there’s an opportunity.”
The former Wanderers midfielder has been keeping fit while back in Montreal, training with a few PLSQ sides to stay sharp while awaiting his next opportunity at the professional level. It goes without saying that a return the Canadian Premier League would be an ideal situation for the former MLS midfielder, but he’s keeping his options open throughout the continent.
Beyond the opportunity to play back at home, Louis – much like CF Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard – puts a lot of stock on what the visual presence of a league can do for a player, too. Having OneSoccer produce and put forth these games is something that his venture on Maltese soil had no equal to.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he admits, “there’s no broadcasting, no social media, it was hard to get clips of the league. It’s very local, I just knew the top three or four play European football, so for me that was pretty incredible.”
Having spent a few months there without much by way of a highlight tape to show for it, Louis will be hoping to land in a league where he can show the proof in the pudding before too much of a gap shows up on his resume.
When Beland-Goyette was signed by Halifax back in 2020, he arrived as one of the most highly-touted midfielders in the league who had been a highlight note for a beleaguered Valour FC side. The pandemic limited that year’s action to a short season, where Beland-Goyette and a much-transformed Halifax side reached the CPL Final for the club’s first and, thus far, only time.
“When we reached the final, I think people see it as kind of incredible, but I think we had the team for it,” he says, before reiterating that he himself was not surprised that they came 90 minutes from winning it all.
While Beland-Goyette featured in all but one of Halifax’s eleven bubble tournament matches, the midfielder never quite hit his stride in a side that saw Aboubacar Sissoko explode onto the scene in midfield.
“I had trouble getting into a team that was, obviously, a very competitive team. I think that was our strength, we were very competitive. We had lots of subs coming into games, and we had a lot of rotation. I didn’t find my groove in the team, maybe only playing ten games. I’ve been used to playing 20-25 game seasons, so playing ten games with a lot of rotation was difficult in a tournament-style season.”
Beland-Goyette rode the bench in the final, watching as Forge secured back-to-back championships with a comfortable-feeling 2-0 final.
“We had a great season, but unfortunately it didn’t end the way I wanted to end because I loved my time in Halifax. I love the city, and the club was super professional and very motivating for me. It was really tough to leave Halifax.”
Another aspect of Canadian football that Beland-Goyette missed was the crowds: in Malta the attendance was a significant degree smaller than what he saw in Valour and, if not for a pandemic, what he would have seen in Halifax.
“I watched the game this weekend,” he said in reference to Halifax’s home opener. “Everytime I see a game like that in Halifax with the crowd, the full stadium, it’s pretty incredible. Being in Malta, we had between 1,000-2,000 people, so when I see Halifax with 6,000 people wearing all the jerseys of the club…it’s an unbelievable atmosphere.”
On What’s Next
Louis Beland-Goyette returned to Canada this year while biding his time awaiting for the next professional playing opportunity. The former MLS and CPL midfielder has been training with a few PLSQ sides to stay fit, keeping sharp as he seeks out his next move on the pitch.
“I follow and watch a lot of football,” he laughs, “I’ve played in the USL and follow it, and so obviously I will follow a lot of leads. For me right now, in this stage of my career, I’m really looking to stay in North America. I’m just looking for the opportunity to showcase myself again, and prove myself.”
Describing his time in Malta as a motivating experience, he knows that if there’s an opportunity back in the Canadian Premier League he’ll have a lot to prove. For him, he knows that fans don’t want to see a player return to the league just because it’s something back home – they want a player that will improve their club, and he’s ready to prove that he’s the right man for such a job.
Having donned the captain’s armband with both FC Montreal and Valour FC, he’s also a player who can provide a leadership aspect for his next club.
“I can definitely bring that. I’m very competitive, and when I was younger I didn’t put it the right way – but as I grew, I put things more positively, which I think helped me a lot. The CPL is a young league, and it has veterans that bring experience to the young players. That’s something I can definitely do.”
Whatever happens next, Louis Beland-Goyette says that the last year of football has made him appreciate the domestic game, and that others should, too.
“We need to be proud of our league with what we’ve accomplished in so little time,” he concludes, “when you go elsewhere and you see how it is, it makes you realize that what we’ve done already is pretty incredible.”