The first game of the season is always the one filled with the most excitement, but for Florian Valot this game meant a lot more.
For the first time in nearly a year, Valot was in the starting lineup in an MLS game and made his mark immediately, setting up the first two goals in the New York Red Bulls 3-2 win over FC Cincinnati.
“It felt like it was my first MLS game ever,” Valot said. “I had trouble sleeping last night, I feel like a kid right now, I’m just taking every minute I get on the field and I’m really to be on there.”
It wasn’t just the assists that made Valot stand out, it was his confidence, the vision, everything that had been seen in him during the 2018 season where he played a big part.
“(I’m) just really happy to be back on the field and get the win in the home/season opener,” Valot said. “I’ve worked hard the last two years, and with the help of the guys, the coaches, fans, friends, and family. (It was) super rewarding.”
Valot had a great start to his career in 2018 with the senior team, scoring 3 goals and adding 5 assists in 14 games, but a torn ACL in training ended his season.
In 2019, he limped off in a home match against the San Jose Earthquakes after a tackle and was informed later that he had another torn ACL which would end his season.
“(The) toughest was the first one,” Valot said. “(I’ve) Never dealt with it. Mentally it’s tough, physically it’s tough. I was prepared for the 2019 season, and unfortunately it happens again. Coming back was hard, but I made it through because of what we have here.”
Valot received countless support from everyone and head coach Chris Armas was there with the midfielder every step of the way.
“I’ve been with him along the way, every step of the way with those injuries, and I say that just
because I’ve seen how hard it has been for him,” Armas said. “It’s hard for a player to go through injuries
like that because the thing you love, maybe one of the things you love most get taken away over
six, seven, eight months. And imagine experiencing that and then coming back, and then it
happens again almost immediately.”
Armas said that he had seen a different Valot in training and the preseason where Valot led the team in goals and praised the midfielder for the edge he has brought.
“Does it truly make you stronger? I think it actually can, because I’ve seen him come back
with a different edge with an almost greater love for being out there in training every day,” Armas said. “Now even for him what I say is the greatest reward is for a player to play well.”
Photo by Shivant Krishnan