For Dylan Carreiro, being drafted by Winnipeg’s Valour FC is a dream come true.
“I feel honoured,” Carreiro said. “Especially because it’s my hometown club and I’m happy to go play professionally in my hometown in front of my friends and family.”
The Winnipeg-born midfielder was the second-overall pick in the inaugural CPL-U Sports draft.
He will also have the distinction of being the first ever draft-pick by Valour FC.
This newfound pedigree has done nothing to add pressure to Carreiro. The York University Lions product said it is now up to him to prove head coach Rob Gale was right to choose him, and that he feels he is ready for that test.
“There’s not much pressure that gets to me,” he said. “And this is something that makes me happy and makes me want to work even more and be the best that I can and help Valour win […] in the future.”
For Carreiro, being selected by his hometown club makes the experience even more special.
“I would’ve never thought that we’d have a Winnipeg team,” he said.
“So it’s a good feeling, I was very excited when I did get that call, and now — like I said — now my friends and family can watch me play as a professional.”
Being a first-round selection often carries with it “franchise player” expectations. This is even more prominent for a team like Valour FC, which is being built from the ground up. Carreiro, though, is focused on playing his game and helping the team win.
“After speaking with Rob, I think I could be a big part of [the roster] and that I can help this club be successful,” he said.
“And [for] me personally, yeah I can make things happen for the team and I can do the right things […] scoring goals and creating opportunities for us to score those goals as well.
“I think I can be a big part of this club and I’m going to be sure to prove that once preseason comes.”
Carreiro is coming off a goalless campaign for the York Lions, where he posted six assists in 12 games. In 2017 the midfielder notched nine goals and one assist in 17 games.
The road to the CPL has been long for Carreiro. He began his career with Toronto FC Academy before heading to Europe, where he played for three different clubs — even getting reps in the Scottish Premiership with Dundee FC.
Now, after three years with the York Lions, the 23-year-old is in “pros-or-bust” mode, saying “It was either, ‘Do I go find something in Europe?’ which I was unable to find, or ‘Do I start my schooling?’”
“York was a great opportunity, and not only was it good for school, it kept my mentality the same,” he said. “It’s a winning program — they expect a lot, they demand you to win and there’s a lot of expectations.”
“I’ve made my decision,” he said.
“I think I’m not going to go back to university. If Valour does sign me it will be a professional contract. If I do well in the preseason and I do get that opportunity to sign […] my last year at York was this year.”