Cavalry re-find winning formula against struggling Vancouver FC

Cavalry re-find winning formula against struggling Vancouver FC

After a frustrating draw against Forge FC last week, Cavalry FC got back to winning ways on June 11 as they outscored Vancouver FC 3-1 to secure their second victory of the 2023 Canadian Premier League (CPL) season.

Myer Bevan continued his strong showing in 2023, as the New Zealand striker knocked in Cavalry’s first two goals to move up to five on the season, while Sergio Camargo scored Cavalry’s third.

Vancouver’s goal came off the boot of their leading scorer, Shaan Hundal, early into the game.

“I think the boys know it’s been coming,” said Bevan, reflecting on an offensive surge that saw Cavalry score three times in the span of 20 minutes in the first half. “We’ve been working day in, day out for this, putting a full 90 together. I think the boys were brilliant today. It obviously could have been more than three, and I think we showed how good we are.”

Vancouver got things going early following some defensive calamity among Cavalry’s back line. In just the fourth minute, Udoka Chima tried to play out from the back and coughed up the ball in front of goal to Gael Sandoval. He passed the ball to Hundal, who was able to quickly side-foot it past Marco Carducci from close range to put the visitors up 1-0.

Cavalry responded quickly, however. Just five minutes after Vancouver’s go-ahead goal, Bevan got on the end of a long ball pumped forward by Daan Klomp that fell perfectly for him to run onto. Through on goal, Bevan picked the near corner for his fourth of the 2023 CPL season.

Bevan didn’t have to wait long for his second. In the 20th minute, speedy left-winger Goteh Ntignee got the ball on the wing, played a give-and-go with Camargo, and then played a pass inside the box to Bevan to stab home his second of the match.

Up 2-1, Cavalry seemed in full confidence, and they scored once again just before the half-hour mark. In the 28th minute, a low cross played toward the near post from right back Roberto Alarcón was met by Bevan, but his one-timed shot ricocheted off the cross bar.

Fortunately, Camargo was waiting at the back post and was able to head the rebounded ball in from close range to put Cavalry up 3-1.

“I’m still looking for a hat-trick,” Bevan said. “Hopefully it comes sometime, but I’m just grateful the goals dropped today. It’s not just me. You saw out there, we had Musse, Sergio was fully fit today, Goteh up there was brilliant. [Ethan Beckford] coming on, he was superb too.”

The result held until half-time, although former Cavalry striker Gabriel Bitar, now with Vancouver, did fire a shot over Carducci’s crossbar in the 43rd minute.

As the second half played out, the visitors emerged more attack-oriented than they did for most of the first 45. Head coach Afshin Ghotbi brought on Nima Zadeh for T.J. Tahid, and tweaked Vancouver’s formation to accommodate a back-three in defence.

“I think we had a brilliant start,” said Ghotbi after the match. “It was disappointing to me to see how soft we took those three goals, but I felt our reaction was very good after probably the 32nd minute until the end of the first half and I thought also in the second half, we created a lot of chances to come back into the game.

“It’s unfortunate that some of the chances we created, we didn’t finish to come within a goal, because I think if we’d gotten the second goal, then we would have gotten something out of this game.”

Cavalry’s game plan in the second half was clearly to take the heat out of the proceedings, and they did so comfortably. For long stretches of play, the hosts seemed content to slow the pace down, keep possession, and swing the ball from side to side.

That being said, Cavalry still managed to get into Vancouver’s 18-yard box on occasion and could have easily extended their lead. Ntignee had probably the best chance to do so in the 55th minute, but miscued his volley at the back post following yet another Alarcón cross in from the right.

Another decent chance came when substitute Ethan Beckford took a shot for Cavalry that whistled over the cross bar in the 71st minute.

Vancouver also threatened on a few occasions, and had a chance in the 87th minute to bring themselves back into the game. Their most notable opportunity fell to Min-jae Kwak, who trapped the ball on the left side of the box, dribbled around Chima and then rattled a curling shot off Cavalry’s cross bar.

But that was as close as Vancouver would come, and after five minutes of injury time, the final whistle sounded to give Cavalry their second win of the season. Their record is now 2-6-1 in 2023, putting them fourth in the league standings – four points behind Forge FC in third.

Vancouver, meanwhile, continues what has been a frustrating run of recent form that has the expansion club in eighth place, with a 1-4-4 record. The Langley based side is still seeking their first three-point performance since April 22 – a winless run that is now up to seven matches.

“Is 3-1 a fair result? I think to be honest, no,” Ghotbi said. “I thought we deserved something from the game. But I have tremendous respect for Cavalry. I think they’re a very good side and their points are not close to the quality they have. I’m hoping we can keep learning and this lesson will help us become the team we need to be to get into the playoffs.”

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