Report and Reaction: Pacific FC the pride of BC after impressive Canadian Championship win over Vancouver Whitecaps

Report and Reaction: Pacific FC the pride of BC after impressive Canadian Championship win over Vancouver Whitecaps

It would be easy to simply say that Vancouver Whitecaps’ 4-3 loss to Pacific FC on Thursday night in Canadian Championship action was an embarrassment. It was. In many ways. But that also does a massive disservice to Pacific, who were the far better side from first whistle to final kick and fully worthy of their win in what was a scintillating cup tie. They did everything they needed to do and more.

This was a local derby for the ages in terms of drama, atmosphere, and just sheer entertainment. Every time Pacific drew ahead, the Whitecaps pegged them back, but their belief that this was their moment to knock off their bigger neighbours from the mainland was overridingly strong and Pa Modou Kah’s tactics were spot on and from when Terran Campbell slotted home an 8th minute penalty, you’d have been made to doubt them.

Ryan Gauld had put the Whitecaps back on level terms shortly after the opener before Manny Aparicio’s goal sent Pacific into half time with the lead. Josh Heard extended that lead further after the break before Gauld reduced the deficit to one, but Alejandro Diaz put the tie to bed with a fourth Pacific goal with 14 minutes to go. Even Cristian Dajome pulling one back for Vancouver eight minutes into stoppage time couldn’t dampen Pacific celebrations and they deservedly take their place in the quarter-finals to face Cavalry FC next month.

The Whitecaps headed into this one knowing that they had a very big target on their back and looking to avoid a repeat of their loss to Cavalry in the competition two years ago. With that in mind, head coach Marc Dos Santos put out basically the strongest line-up at his disposal. But it wasn’t to be enough to get past a Pacific side that was without their talismanic playmaker Marco Bustos, who will be out for a spell with a knee injury.

Pacific were always going to be fired up for this one and they came out of the gates strong. Their hustle was clear, as were the problems that would cause the Whitecaps defence, the first real evidence of which came just eight minutes in.

Aparicio’s shot fell to Campbell in the box, but before he could get a shot off, he was brought down by a clumsy Jake Nerwinski challenge and the home side had a penalty. Campbell picked himself up to fire home from the spot, Starlight Stadium erupted, and the scene was set for a memorable night.

Pacific’s lead was to last six minutes before the Whitecaps tied things up. As Brian White and Lukas MacNaughton tussled for a high long ball into the box, Callum Irving came charging out of his goal and was sent tumbling over the pair. The home side expected a foul but no whistle came from referee Juan Marquez and Gauld was quick to pounce on the loose ball, beautifully chipping a curling shot into the empty net.

With no VAR in this tournament, Pacific were livid, with Kah picking up a booking for his protestations to the fourth official.

With parity restored both teams looked for the lead in what was shaping up to be a cracking cup tie.

Pacific were looking the more lively but the Whitecaps came closest with a header from a corner, but the home side’s pressure reaped its reward when Aparicio scored to retake their lead two minutes before the half hour mark.

The Whitecaps defence was all at sea as the ball fell to Aparicio in the box and the striker made room to fire home a beauty into the top corner and give Pacific a very much deserved lead once again.

That was how things stood at half time and with the game very much in the balance the next goal was crucial to both teams.

The Whitecaps had a chance to get it in the 54th minute, but former WFC2 player Jordan Haynes came up with a massive block in the box from a Dajome shot, then two minutes later Max Crepeau was the hero with a sprawling save to deny a goalbound Campbell header.

But when it came in the 63rd minute, what a quality next goal that proved to be.

Heard did well to collect the ball and run in on goal. With a couple of passes on, the former Whitecaps draft pick decided to finish it himself, with a sublime little dink past Crepeau’s near side, and Pacific now had a two goal cushion.

Pacific nearly added another quickly but Crepeau did well to come out and smother Aparicio before he could get a clean shot off.

But such misses often get punished and so it proved for Pacific as the Whitecaps went right up the pitch and reduced the deficit back down to one in the 66th minute.

Cristian Dajome sent in a pinpoint cross into the box and an unmarked Gauld rose with ease to head past Irving and the Pacific fingernails were being back to being bitten again.

Well maybe not, as the feeling around Starlight was that this was just a mere setback and the home side had another one or two goals in them yet.

Pacific restored their two goal lead with 14 minutes remaining. Aparicio sent a free kick into the box that caused confusion the ‘Caps defence. The ball then fell to Diaz right in front of goal and he made no mistake to bury it from eight yards out.

Was this the final nail in the Whitecaps coffin or would there be another few twists and turns before the night was out.

Dajome saw a shot saved by Irving and crash off the left post soon after and Pacific started to think that this was going to be their night after all.

And they comfortably saw out the rest of the match. Gauld was felled in the box deep into stoppage time, giving Vancouver a late penalty. Dajome’s effort was superbly saved by Irving but the Colombian pounced quickly to fire home the rebound, but that was to be the last kick of the game.

Pacific were full value for their win and the CPL league leaders will use this performance as a springboard for the second half of their season. As for Vancouver, this was a season low. It’s not even the loss itself, but more the fact that this was a near first choice starting line-up who were outfought and outperformed by a local rival with a budget a fraction of the size of them. The ease in which the Whitecaps were picked apart was concerning and after MDS talked about how much this competition meant to the club, to put in such a poor performance leaves a lot of questions to be asked.

Cup football under the lights, with the underdogs having their day. It doesn’t get much better for me than that.

But I’ll leave you with this little fun fact. Pacific FC didn’t practice penalties at Wednesday’s final training session before the game. The reason? Kah felt there was no need to as he fully believed his side would triumph in the 90 minutes. He wasn’t wrong.

FINAL SCORE: Pacific FC 4 – 3 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 4,997

Possession: PAC 38% – VAN 62%
Shots: PAC 12 – VAN 9
Shots on Goal: PAC 8 – VAN 6
Saves: PAC 3 – VAN 4
Fouls: PAC 26 – VAN 11
Offsides: PAC 1 – VAN 1
Corners: PAC 2 – VAN 4

PACIFIC: Callum Irving; Kadin Chung, Lukas McNaughton, Abdou Samake, Jordan Haynes; Jamar Dixon, Alessandro Hojabrpour, Manny Aparicio (Victor Blasco 83); Terran Campbell (Olakunle Dada-Luke 73), Gianni dos Santos (Alejandro Diaz 65), Josh Heard (Thomas Meilleur-Giguère 83) [Substitutes not used: Mark Village, Matteo Polisi, Sean Young]

VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Javain Brown, Ranko Veselinović (Florian Jungwirth 70), Andy Rose, Jake Nerwinski (Tosaint Ricketts 72); Janio Bikel (Leonard Owusu 56), Patrick Metcalfe (Russell Teibert 90+3); Cristian Dájome, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Raposo (Déiber Caicedo 46); Brian White [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Bruno Gaspar]




Thoughts on the game:

“The first 15, 20 minutes we had such a rough time adjusting to the bounces and just settling in to the possession. We were never really able to do it in the first half. They get the first goal, it changes the environment, it changes us now having to chase the result. We tied the game, then on a play where there’s so many rebounds that fall to them, they get the 2-1. Overall I would say that you cannot win a game where you concede four goals and it was a lot. Defensively, we struggled a lot today. We had a chance with Dajo to get another one that hit the post, but I think at the end of the day you can’t win a game where you concede four goals. But I want to congratulate Pacific for their energy, for what they brought, and we were all aware of that. We knew that it would be this type of game, we knew it would be a scrappy game where first, second balls battles and they did a very good job of that, and when you have a tough time matching that, it’s tough to win a game like this.”

What went wrong defensively:

“We had a tough time with our pressure from the front to start in the first half. Sometimes our wingers were too deep and they weren’t able to participate in that pressure. It allowed them to get some plays in behind us, but then their goals come from bounces. When we got the ball we had a very tough time to adjust in possession. I think that was a very tough thing for us. How the ball was never quite able to settle and we weren’t able to build the way we wanted to build. Then they get goals at good moments. They get goals when we made it to 3-2, they made it 4-2 right away. It was just a game that nothing went the way we wanted it to go. And yeah it’s hard. It’s hard now on the guys and everyone. We were very aware of the danger of this game and everyone was in a good space and confident. Nobody cheated. The players knew how difficult it was to win it. We just had a day where things were very hard for us.”


Thoughts on the game:

“It’s frustrating. Obviously it’s a game we were really wanting to win and we were wanting to go far in the cup. So it’s frustrating to go out like that. It wasn’t the performance we were looking for either. These games are hard at the best of times but I think going behind early made it even harder for ourselves and unfortunately we weren’t able to come back from it.”



Opening words:

Packed stadium. Vancouver is purple.

Thoughts on the win against his former team:

“This game wasn’t about me, it was about the players and the players were fantastic. As a coach, I have nothing to say. It’s the boys that were on the pitch. My history doesn’t count in this game. It’s about our boys creating history for them. In the first ever BC derby, we came out victorious, and that will always be in the minds of people. The boys were fantastic. My history will never count in this game because I didn’t play.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Jeff at 13:31

    One of the best, if not the best, Voyageurs Cup game I’ve ever watched. It had everything: regional rivals, jockeying in the lead up (trade Caps shirts for Pacific shirts), a packed stadium, match played under the lights, one-and-done cup football at it’s finest.

    It’s been said before, but Canadians play better in this competition than their int’l counterparts.

  2. Michael McColl Author at 20:40

    Agree with every part of this. Fantastic night all round

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