BRONX, N.Y. — In his first training session as New York Red Bulls head coach, Chris Armas had to deal with a season-ending injury to one of his regular starters.
French midfielder Florian Valot suffered a tear in his left knee on Thursday and will undergo season-ending surgery in the coming weeks.
Valot was a revelation this season after earning promotion from Red Bull II in December. The 25-year-old started 13 of the 14 league games he was featured in, scoring three goals with five assists.
“Your heart breaks for a player,” Armas said after the Red Bulls fell to NYCFC, 1-0, at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. “He’s an important player, he’s established himself as a dynamic attacker in this league and you can see that he’s elegant on the ball and plays like a 10-and-a-half for us. He’s comfortable on the ball, brings ideas.”
It’s an injury that hits home for Armas, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee when playing for the U.S. national team in a tuneup to the 2002 World Cup. A similar injury sidelined him fro the 2000 Olympics.
Armas said he reached out to Valot that night and the next day to see how he was dealing with the devastating news. Valot took to Instagram to express his emotions.
This might be one of the worst and saddest day in my life. This amazing season ended too early for me when on Thursday I torn my ACL. I have no words to describe how I feel right now. I will undergo surgery in the upcoming weeks and I will do anything possible to come back stronger than ever. I’m blessed to be part of this organization and surrounded by amazing teammates, staff, friends and family that will help me get through this difficult time. Thank you for all the support that I have and that I am receiving as I’m writing this. Now there is a season to finish and trophies to win. Let’s go boys !!! 🔴🔴@newyorkredbulls #nyisred
“You offer comfort and you tell him with confidence you’re coming back strong,” Armas said. “I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Some of my best soccer was after an ACL injury so he’ll come back. He’s a strong player physically and mentally he’s rock solid.”
Inside the visitors locker room at Yankee Stadium Sunday night, Valot’s teammates also offered their support.
“It’s really difficult because he’s a guy that’s proven himself this year, a guy that, for a lot of people, came out of nowhere, but someone who works so hard in training, on the field and was desperate to perform day in and day out,” midfielder Sean Davis said. “I was really disappointed to see that with ‘Flo’ and we talked a little bit, but he’s a great guy and he’ll come back stronger. He has a great work ethic, but yeah, we’ll miss him for sure.”
Added midfielder Tyler Adams: “It’s sad because Florian’s not just a good person and a good friend, but he’s obviously an excellent player and he’s helped our team so much. What’s best about having a guy go down is that we have guys who can fill in. We’re going to help Florian through his recovery process now, be there to support him and then we know he’ll be ready come next season.”