Valour FC Signs Forward Austin Ricci
Canadian Premier League side Valour FC has finally announced the signing of former York9 FC forward Austin Ricci.
We’d been suggesting that the 24-year-old was a likely signing for Valour FC for months, and had confirmed that the move was official yesterday. For the last few weeks, the forward has kept things low key while staying in a hotel near the club. With the paperwork now finalized, he’s moved into more permanent accommodations with his new Valour FC teammate, Stefan Cebara.
Ricci was quick to acknowledge the unusually long wait for his official announcement, which was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:
It’s been a long wait. I got to Winnipeg at the end of February for the trials and towards the end of it they told me they wanted to sign me, but before we could agree to terms COVID hit and the whole situation has just prolonged everything until now.Austin Ricci
When Ricci first trialed with the club in March, it didn’t take him long to impress head coach Rob Gale. Had the pandemic not arrived, Ricci would have been a surefire signing ahead of the league’s intended start date.
He came in for the early part of preseason a week early and we’ve seen that he has a surprising amount of power and speed to his game. In all of the preseason testing back in March he came out strongest in the team in a lot of the power lifts and in the sprints he’s right there with Raph Ohin and Stef Cebara as possibly the fastest player in the team. Those are all good attributes for a centre-forward – power and speed.Rob Gale
Described as a confidence player, Ricci wasn’t given a lot of time to shine last season with the Nine Stripes: he was only able to accumulate 234 minutes of action across eleven appearances, with his sole assist coming against his newfound team in the spring season.
The evidence of Ricci’s potential, however, has always been there: at the NCAA level he bagged 22 goals and 7 assists after 71 appearances, then went on to get 12 goals and 7 assists in the PDL level before arriving to League1 Ontario, where he scored 5 goals in just 8 appearances for the Vaughan Azzurri.
His impressive sporting resume doesn’t quite match up with how his last season went, which is a sentiment likely echoed by former Nine Stripes goalkeeper Matthew Silva, too. Valour FC gaffer Rob Gale is quick to recognize that this may have left him with a point to prove for 2020:
All the tools are there, now it’s a case of using him in the right way and keeping his confidence high. He’s got a ton of potential. He’s still very young. Plus, he’s a really good dude. The more we’ve got to work with him and got to know him, he’s a great team guy who is good in the dressing room. He also has a point to prove as well, I think, as things didn’t quite work out with him as he would have hoped with York last year for whatever reason. But at all his previous levels he’s got a terrific goal-scoring record at the semi-pro and collegiate level.Rob Gale
While Ricci is capable of playing both up top and over on the wing, Gale seems keen to use him as a centre forward. The fact that he’s laid claim to the number nine also suggests that fans will see him deployed directly as a striker this time around.
Gale has completed a significant roster overhaul during the offseason, having now brought in thirteen brand new players this offseason. The club has, more or less, completely refreshed itself in all areas of the pitch, with domestic signings including the likes of Masta Kacher, Fraser Aird, Brett Levis, and Impact goalkeeper James Pantemis.
The club is expected to announce the signing of former Halifax Wanderers defender Chakib Hocine in the near future, too.
The Winnipeg-based club also confirmed that inaugural roster members Raphael Ohin and Federico Pena have been re-signed for the upcoming season. Ohin had made 22 appearances under Rob Gale last year, while Pena accumulated 315 minutes across eight appearances.
The length, options, and financial details regarding Austin Ricci’s contract were not disclosed by Valour FC.
Source: Valour FC