In a historic match at Starlight Stadium, Pacific FC came away with a well-deserved victory over newcomers Vancouver FC, thanks to an 81st minute wondergoal courtesy of Manny Aparicio. In a game that was hotly contested, here is our post-match analysis.
Early Nerves for Vancouver, Early Rust for Pacific
Pacific was dominant from the off, making sure that Vancouver FC were unable to grow into the game for the majority of the half. Afshin Ghotbi set his side out as a sort of 4-3-3, with Kadin Chung placed as an 8 alongside Elliot Simmons, with Nima Moazeni zadeh as the 6. The Iranian midfielder looked nervy in the opening moments, giving away some cheap turnovers. One in particular allowed Pacific to break at pace, and gave Easton Ongaro a golden opportunity to open his 2023 account, but his shot sailed over the bar.
After that, Vancouver were unable to really break the first press of Pacific FC, meaning that most of the play was in VFC’s half. Pacific had another golden opportunity to make it 1-0 off a corner, with Amir Didic smashing a headed effort off the frame of the goal. Pacific ended the first half with 60% possession and six shots but none of them on target. Meanwhile, Vancouver went into the dressing room with a meek one shot on target.
“The Word From The Coach Was To Go And Make History”
In the second half, Vancouver FC came out with more composure on the ball, and with a better idea of what to expect. After the match, seasoned centre-back Rocco Romeo put it down to Ghotbi’s half-time talk, where he told them to “go and make history”.
For those first 15-20 minutes, Vancouver were better with their passing, creating those triangles that you would expect from a 4-3-3, and bypassing that first line of pressure through their centre-backs. What still hurt them was that they were a bit tame in the attack, with good wing play coming to nothing once it threatened to go into the box. Gael Sandoval was a noticeable omission from the starting lineup, and only came on in the 60th minute.
The attack looked a little more threatening with his introduction, but he still looked to not be at 100% when on the ball, and could only muster up 16 touches, one accurate cross, and one key pass. VFC fans will hope that he can come into his own in the matches to come, and demonstrate why he is one of the most decorated players in the league.
Aparicio With The Last Laugh
While Vancouver started the second-half well, it was Pacific who ended the match with momentum and with the crucial goal. James Merriman’s men did well to respond to the early pressure, and respond with their own changes to once again get a hold of the match.
Olakunle Dada-Luke and Ayman Sellouf came on for Pacific, and gave the Tridents some much-needed energy to put the pressure back onto Vancouver. Vancouver started to give possession away cheaply, and that was what allowed Pacific to capitalize.
A poor turnover from Min-Jae Kwak allowed Pacific to get a ball into the box, which was poorly cleared by Vancouver. That then gave Manny Aparicio the opportunity to hit the ball with a stunning half-volley, fizzing low and clearing all the traffic in the box, straight into the back of Callum Irving’s net. Aparicio’s consequent celebration made sure to stoke the fires of this rivalry, as he ran to the travelling VFC fans and put his fingers to his lips, as if to shush them.
— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) April 16, 2023
The last few minutes were customary from Pacific, cutting out all danger and dallying on the ball enough to concede a few fouls, and kill a few seconds off the clock. At the end, cheers rang round Starlight Stadium, as Pacific came out the Kings of Cascadia in the CPL’s first ever CPL Derby.
Looking Ahead To Canadian Championship
Both teams will be looking ahead to a midweek clash in the Canadian Championship, as Pacific will hope to take the momentum from this week in another home-match against Cavalry FC. On the other side of the Strait, Vancouver FC will travel to Ontario to face York United. Ghotbi mentioned after the match that “sometimes you learn more from your losses than from your wins”. Hopefully Vancouver will take those hard lessons learned from that match and bring it to Ontario to get their first ever win.