Independiente del Valle: International is better

A few days ago Independiente del Valle, a small football club based in a supurb of Quito, Ecuador joined a small global group of teams with a successful rarity. With their win over Argentine opponent Colon Santa Fe at the 2019 Copa Sudamericana final, held at Asuncion, Paraguay, they’ve become one of the few teams who have achieved winning an international title without holding a local one!

This tiny club from Sangolqui, a canton of Quito, has an exceptional story. It has been found in 1958 by Jose Teran, a football fan who lived in the area, along with a group of friends. Jose Teran was inspired by Argentine club Independiente, so the initial logo and team colors were red and white. When the founder passed away back in 1977, club officials decided to rename the team in his honor. So, the formal club name is Club Social y Deportivo Independiente Jose Teran, that’s how it’s registered in Ecuadorian football federation. The additional name “del Valle” is for marketing purposes only.

The club struggled into local leagues for almost forty years. They achieved national status just in 1995, when they were promoted to Segunda Categoria. It took them another 15 years to promote into Ecudiadorian Serie A, the 1st tier of the local football pyramid. Then they’ve adopted their new names and colors (blue and black) used until today.

After 2010, playing against the powerhouses of Ecuadorian football, the only word which describes the local adventure is stability. Independiente del Valle has more wins than losses, but they never succeeded to go all the way to the championship title. At their last try, in 2018, they’ve place in the honorable 3rd place, earning an international ticket to the Sudamericana.

The team made big headlines with their 2016 Copa Libertadores surpsiring campaign. A Cinderella of the era, Independiente del Valle saw off big clubs like Argentines legends River Plate and Boca Juniors and Mexican Pumas UNAM to reach the final. Unfortunately, the fairy tale didn’t have a happy end, as the lost a two-leg tie to Colombia’s Atletico Nacional. They managed to get a draw at the first match in Quito, but they suffered a narrow 1-0 away loss.

In their first fully successful campaign they matched up vs. historical clubs from all over the continent, among them the “inspirational” club, Independiente of Argentina at the quarter finals. They also eliminated mighty Brazilian Corinthians in the semi-finals.

The most important thing about the club is that they lean mostly on local stuff to achieve success. There were 15 Ecuadorian players in a 20-man squad for the final. This is the best answer to those stating for years that Ecuadorian teams have sporadic success because their players lack quality or that the teams take advantage only of the huge height (and lack of oxygen) in their home matches.

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