The 2018-19 Vancouver Metro Soccer League season kicked off this past weekend with a goalfest in the Premier Division and, after a season of heavy player movement around the league amongst the top teams, there’s already some strong contenders emerging for this year’s championship battle just one week in.
The VMSL Premier Division season kicked off in its now traditional manner, with all 12 teams in action at the same venue on Saturday, in an opening weekend celebration of the local game at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey (the opening FVSL Premier matches all took place at the same venue the following day).
The six matches produced 32 goals and some impressive individual performances, with only two teams failing the find the back of the net in their opening match.
Last year’s VMSL champions, and Provincial Cup winners, BCT Rovers Tigers United got the action underway at noon, beginning the defence of their title in a seven goal thriller against last season’s third place finishers West Van. The Amblesiders had lost just one of their last 14 matches to finish last season, but weren’t able to replicate that form to kick off the new campaign, ending up on the wrong end of a 4-3 barnburner.
West Van came out the strong and were two goals to the good in the early running, a lead they went in with at half time. Rovers Tigers stormed back after the break to tie things up, but West Van went ahead again soon after. The Surrey side tied it up again, and went on to grab all three points will a late winner.
David Chohan, Pavi Dhillon (pictured below), Cam Hundal, and Navjot Thind got the goals for the defending champs. Shane Howard got a brace for West Van, with Ryan Glanville getting their other.
The other early kick off nowhere near as dramatic, with Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves running out fairly comfortable 2-0 winners against Campo Atletico thanks to a brace from Carlo Basso. Coquitlam’s goal machine could have grabbed a hat-trick but saw a penalty kick saved.
Campo just avoided the drop last season by winning their final match and will be in deep to stave off relegation this year, having lost one of their key players, Ivan Collin, to Rino’s Tigers.
Rino’s have strengthened well this offseason, along with welcoming back some of last year’s pivotal players that helped guide them to their first ever Imperial Cup win. They should definitely be in the conversation for the title come February and got their new season off to a strong start on Saturday, demolishing last year’s Premier runners-up Pegasus 5-1.
One of those new additions, Elie Gindo from Langley FC (pictured below), got Rino’s off and running in the 16th minute, before a pair of goals from Alberto Cirac-Perez and one from Declan Rodriguez three minutes before the break had the Tigers three up and coasting by half time. Javid Khan got the Horsemen on the board six minutes after the restart from a free kick, but any ideas of a comeback were short lived, with Erik Edwardson restoring Rino’s four goal cushion just a minute later to round off the scoring.
There was another five star performance from the newly merged Club Inter EDC Burnaby, who romped to a 5-0 win over one of the promoted sides, Guildford FC.
Despite losing some key players during the offseason, Inter look stronger for it, and a hat-trick from Mohammed Habib led a strong all-round display for them. Colin Streckmann and Marco Visintin were also on the scoresheet for the Inter in this one.
Early days, but Guildford will need to do a lot of work defensively if they don’t go straight back down this season, although they did lose their starting keeper 20 minutes in. What they have going in their favour is that there are a number of teams in a similar boat to them just now, and it’s all about picking up points against those that will be around them at the foot of the table.
One of them is likely to be fellow promoted side NVFC Norvan. Last year’s runaway Division 1 champs lost only one league match all season, but if they needed any reminder of the step up in quality they’ll be facing this season, it came in their opener against Croatia SC on Saturday.
This was a close one up until the last 20 minutes or so, with Croatia holding a 1-0 lead before three goals in ten minutes killed off the North Vancouver side for a 4-1 victory. David Malamura and Joel Padmore each hit a brace for Croatia, with Matthew Hartwell getting Norvan’s first goal of the new season.
The last match of the afternoon saw many people’s favourites for this year’s title, CCB LFC United (pictured in the main photo), run rampant over Richmond FC Hibernian 6-1, and they hit the post three times as well.
CCB have built a powerhouse of a squad for this season, adding a lot of top talent from other teams around the VMSL, and it was already on show on Saturday how strong they are going to be this year. Richmond had pulled it back to 1-1 after CCB went ahead early, before the floodgates opened. Ajeet Bains and Nicolas Morello hit a pair apiece for the Surrey side, with new addition Milad Mehrabi from Club Inter (pictured below) and Robert Giezen grabbing one each. Brad Caldwell got the sole Richmond goal.
CCB were certainly one of a number of teams to impress on the opening weekend. How they fare against one of the league’s bigger hitters will certainly be more of an indication as to just how strong they will be this year, but they certainly have what feels almost like a VMSL all-star side ready to go for the title.
As for Richmond, they only have five returning players from last season after a bulk of their squad moved on for various reasons. It’s going to be a challenging season ahead for them for sure and they must be one of the favourites for relegation right now.
So after the opening weekend’s results, that leaves the first Premier Division league table of the new 2018-19 season looking as follows:
You can find all of the latest results and upcoming fixtures across all of the divisions on VMSLsoccer.com.