If the opening weekend of games is any indication as to how the 2017-18 Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL) Premier Division season is going to play out, then we have an exciting six to seven months ahead to look forward to.
There were some big shocks in Saturday’s opening day festival of football at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey. All 12 Premier teams were in action over a very wet six hour period across two pitches and there were a lot of goals, cards shown, and some excellent team and individual performances.
You couldn’t have predicted a bigger couple of shocks in the first two matches to kick off proceedings at high noon.
Back to back VMSL Premier Champions Coquitlam Metro Ford are most people’s favourites to do threepeat. They ran away with the league last season and had it basically wrapped up by Christmas after a tremendous unbeaten run. They dipped a little towards the end, which was to be expected as fringe players got their chance to shine, and failed to lift either the Imperial Cup or the Provincial Cup.
They were first in action at the weekend, taking on the team that must be haunting their dreams by now, Westside SC.
— Westside FC (@TheWestsideFC) September 9, 2017
Westside ended Metro Ford’s unbeaten league run last season and knocked them out of the Provincials. They made it a hat-trick of big results against Coquitlam on Saturday, coming away with a 2-0 victory that sent the message that this year’s Premier Division title race is far from being a done deal.
Metro Ford looked strong in the early going but were shocked by a goal in each half, from Ben Spong and Cesar Meylan, the second a sweet 25 yard curler with about 15 minutes remaining. The killer second goal came about five minutes after Carlo Basso has a goal ruled out for Coquitlam, on an opening afternoon they’ll want to quickly put behind them.
While that drama was playing out on pitch 10, pitch 11 had some drama and shocks of it’s own, courtesy of Premier new boys Campo Atletico.
Campo’s rise these past couple of seasons has seen them play some attractive football, win the Provincial B Cup, have their (now former) coach rub a number of people up the wrong way on the Take The Piss forum, and have back to back promotions, the first of which only coming about when a team dropped out of Division 1. I’ve certainly enjoyed watching them the last two years.
Recently promoted teams have certainly struggled to keep their heads above water in the Premier in recent seasons, and there weren’t too many people out there who gave Campo much of a chance of avoiding an immediate return to whence they came. Still very early days, but if their first ever Premier match is anything to go by, then they’re going to make a fight of it and shouldn’t be dismissed so easily as also rans.
Campo Atletico shocked VMSL powerhouse West Van FC 2-1 in their first ever Premier game, scoring just five minutes in, with the goals coming from a man who has played a big part in their success these past two season, Edson Castro, and Ivan Colin. Corey Wallis pulled one back for West Van late in the second half, but by then it was too little, too late.
The next pair of matches produced a number of goals and talking points, and provided us with our first league leaders of the new campaign, the renamed BCT Rovers Tigers United.
A Ryan Dhillon hat trick (pictured above playing for another Rovers, TSS, this summer in the PDL) and goals from Chetan Jhooty, Harpreet Khakh, and Joey Brar saw Rovers Tigers power their way to an impressive 6-2 mauling of ten man Club Inter.
Two big decisions from referee Ruben Smilev certainly had a part to play in proceedings, first sending off Inter’s Ryan Zaharija for a last man tackle when the score was 1-0 to Rovers Tigers, and then calling for a retake off a penalty after the Inter keeper had initially saved it but was ruled to have come off his line.
That decision saw a coach dismissed from the Inter bench for dissent, and although Alexander Marrello and Bryan Fong did find the back of the net for the Provincial Cup champs, there wasn’t anything they could do to stop a Rovers Tigers juggernaut.
There were a couple of red cards shown in the other 2pm game between EDC FC Burnaby and Pegasus FC, one to each side for second bookable offences. In an exciting match, the Burnaby side twice came from a goal behind to earn a share of the points in a 2-2 draw.
There was another draw in one of the final two matches of the afternoon, with CCB LFC United and Croatia SC playing out a pretty evenly matched 0-0 affair.
But there was to be another surprise, although perhaps not that great a one, in the last of the six opening day Premier matches, when last year’s Division 1 champs Rino’s Tigers made a more auspicious start than their disastrous top flight campaign of two seasons ago, to see off Richmond FC Hibernian 2-1. They already have more points!
Connor MacMillan, fresh from a summer with TSS Rovers in the PDL, and Milan Gandesha did the damage for Rino’s Tigers, with the Hibs consolation coming from a late Miguel Michelena penalty.
All of which leaves the first VMSL Premier league table of the season looking as follows:
Guildford FC lead the way in VMSL Division 1 after the first round of matches. A pair of goals from Viniel Chand, and one apiece from Alexander Apostol and Iwan Nikita Jecanski, gave the Surrey side a 4-1 win away to NVFC Norvan Storm on Saturday.
New boys Burnaby Metro Athletic continued where they left off last season in their quest for a third straight promotion. Goals from former Whitecap and UBC stalwart Navid Mashinchi (pictured below), Emad Agahi, and Jackson Malloy gave them a 3-1 win at Rino’s Fury, whose sole counter was from Corby O’Genski.
Newly relegated ICSF Columbus, who beat FC Romania 3-1, and NVFC Norvan Lions, who saw off last year’s Division 2B champs Burnaby Selects White Eagles 2-1, were the other winners on opening weekend.
A Majo Bratic hat trick sparked FC Serbia United’s 8-2 hammering of newly promoted Royal City in Division 2A, but another promoted side, and our tips for the title, Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi, weren’t too far behind themselves, beating Astro FC 6-3 on the road thanks to braces from Eric Dove and Moreno Zanetti.
In Division 2B, BCT Punjab Tigers lead the way on goals scored from this year’s Provincial B Cup champions Vancouver Greencaps. The Tigers 4-1 home win against Twin Arrows on Friday night, just eclipsing the Strikers’ 3-0 win at home to Sarajevo FC the following afternoon.
Lobbans FC, NVFC Norvan Vikings, and Richmond FC Olympics are the three teams leading the three Division 3 pools after the first round of matches. The Olympics were the weekend’s biggest winners, shellacking newbies HiVE FC 9-0, in match that saw Brad Caldwell, Kody Hol, Warren McKay, and Keegan White all notch braces.
You can find all the latest results, standings, and this week’s fixtures at VMSLsoccer.com.