From France to the New York Red Bulls, Florian Valot’s story continues for the playoffs


Florian Valot’s career path is unlikely to be replicated in MLS.The Frenchman spent time in the famous academies of AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain before finally coming to the United States for college football at the age of 21. He didn’t go to a traditional powerhouse, landing instead at Rider University, located in New Jersey, and he dropped out of school at 23, not a young age in professional football.

It didn’t stop him. In fact, persistence has marked his career in recent years.

After struggling to get to MLS and then seeing 2018 and 2019 end prematurely with a torn ACL every year, Valot fought back and reclaimed his starting spot by opening the day in 2020. He scored the opportunity with two assists decisive in a New York Red Bulls win over FC Cincinnati.

“It was so awesome,” Valot told last week. “That week I was so excited and can’t wait to get started. I couldn’t have imagined a better start to the season.

The global pandemic couldn’t stop it either.

When Valot first got to Rider it was a bit of a culture shock, but not one that lasted too long. He adapted to the culture and standards quite quickly, he says.

It doesn’t hurt that her English is perfect, you’d never guess it wasn’t her native language. His English was a bit tidy with a trial by fire after two years in Scotland (“yeah, the accent is really hard to understand sometimes,” he joked). At 21, he wasn’t sure he could achieve his dream of turning pro, but he wasn’t giving up either. Valot seized the opportunity offered to him at Rider and took up the challenge.

“When I moved, it was more about traveling and experiencing something different,” said Valot. “I always had the hope of succeeding one day, but to be offered a scholarship to play football, I could not refuse it. I went there with a new set of eyes.

The Red Bulls do a great job of scouting deep in the area around the club as Valot is an example of many local college players on their radar over the years. He had a chance with the New York Red Bulls II, the club’s affiliate of the USL Championship. He helped guide the team to the 2016 USL Cup and illuminated the league en route to an MLS contract ahead of the 2018 season. A stellar preseason landed him a starting role in Game 3 of the season despite some some number of better paid and more promising players around him. He didn’t give up that spot and started 13 of the team’s next 14 games.

Then a ripped ACL ended his season prematurely. Valot didn’t let him derail, reclaiming his starting spot on Matchday 1 of 2019. His season ended in his second game with another ripped ACL.

“Yeah, I knew it was ripped right away,” Valot said, his voice dropping a bit.

Not to shed light on the physical pain caused by the injury and then the countless hours of sweating behind closed doors working like hell to rehabilitate and get back on the pitch, but Valot pointed out the mental toll these injuries have given him. caused.

“People will tell you they know what it feels like, but nobody knows what it feels like,” Valot said. “Nobody knows what it’s like to pass twice, consecutively. I’m so grateful to be back and to play.

Valot leaves the field in tears in 2019, knowing he tore his ACL for the second time in as many years | USA Today Sports

Valot has not returned to the game, he excels.

He embodies the Red Bull way. An overlooked talent, identified through local spotting, further developed in USL, then rewarded for performance and growth with not only an MLS contract, but a real chance to save minutes.

Valot has appeared in every RBNY game this year, starting 17 of 23. His box score numbers don’t jump off the page as he has played a little deeper than normal in the last few games, but he has played a vital role in guiding the club to the club. playoffs even as the season reached a nadir that ultimately cost Chris Armas his job this summer.

The season is on the line again on Saturday as the club opens its Audi MLS Cup playoff run with a Saturday game against favorite Columbus Crew SC (3 p.m. ET | TV and streaming) on ​​the road.

“In previous years we were the favorites to go as far as possible,” said Valot. “Now we are the underdogs, although we have had a lot of good results lately. We have a good chance. It’s a playoff, it’s a game. It’s gonna be fun. A lot of people count us and that fuels us. People won’t see us coming. “


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