Valour FC had a new player and a new coach on the pitch on Monday.
Midfielder Michael Petrasso and technical consultant John Peacock were both at practice for Valour FC as the club entered its third week of training camp.
The club announced on Monday that it has signed Petrasso to a one-year contract.
Petrasso, 23, has experience playing in both Europe and Major League Soccer. He started his professional career with Toronto FC Academy, where he played two seasons before heading overseas with the Queens Park Rangers. Petrasso spent six years in the Rangers’ organization, but during his time there, he also played with four other European clubs while on loan, appearing with Oldham Athletic, Coventry City, Leyton Orient and Notts County.
He returned to North America last year to play 14 games for MLS’ Montreal Impact.
“It was a good experience for me,” Petrasso said. “And, obviously, the MLS is a big league. I was happy to play there. I played against some big players so that’s obviously good experience. My family came to watch so that was good. But now, it’s just about focusing and get back playing again, and hopefully, we can go out this season and get some results.”
WATCH: Raw Michael Petrasso interview
Petrasso has played for Valour FC general manager and head coach Rob Gale in the past as part of Canada’s national teams. He was the Under-20 Canadian Male Player of the Year in 2014. But the Toronto native hasn’t played since August after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk.
In the past, Petrasso has been used out of position as a defender, but Gale believes he’s better suited as a midfielder to help supply some offence.
“I think the coaches have not gotten the best out of Michael Petrasso so hopefully I can do that again,” Gale said.
“He’s a very dynamic winger, absolutely. He’s been played more in a defensive role, which he can do as a fullback in a pinch. But when you got attacking qualities like that, I’d prefer to be using him in the right areas of the field.”
WATCH: Raw Rob Gale interview
“When you’re growing up as a winger, when you play the right back position, your first thought is to attack,” Petrasso said. “But I think I struggled a little bit defensively and I’ve tried to work on that. But now, I think Rob wants to see more of my attacking qualities, and hopefully, he can bring that back out in me.”
Valour FC’s new technical consultant, Peacock, was also on the field for the first time.
Peacock holds the same position with Manchester United and will split duties between Winnipeg and England. With over 35 years of experience coaching, he has a lengthy resume that includes winning the UEFA Under-17 Championship and the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. But it was his prior relationship with Gale that brought Peacock to Winnipeg as he’s married to Gale’s sister.
“Being close to Rob and, obviously, now getting familiar with his staff, I can help them and support them,” Peacock said.
“I’ll look at the sessions. I’m looking at what they’re trying to achieve within the sessions, how it’s put over, but also I’ll be here to support the players.”
WATCH: Raw John Peacock interview
“You can’t surround yourself with enough quality and experience, in my view, and someone who can make sure that I’m in check and doing everything that is at the cutting edge of football.”