TSS Rovers continued their countdown to their historic Canadian Championship match against Valour FC on April 19 by getting their first preseason friendly under their belt in Langley on Monday afternoon.
It was a 2-0 loss for the League1 BC champions against Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC in the end, but for a team still finding their spark, chemistry, and with many of the players having played games over the weekend in the BC Provincial Cup, there was a lot to be pleased about and to be taken from the game for Rovers head coach Will Cromack.
“This was the first shot at getting guys back together,” Cromack told AFTN after the match. “Certainly they’ve been playing in different environments, but all together they haven’t. So part of the expectation [from this game] was just getting started.
“The idea was to see a couple of windows into what we need to accomplish in the last couple of weeks before we go play Valour and the last couple of weeks before going into the season. We saw some good things and we saw some things that we need to fix, but all in all most guys got a touch on the pitch and that can only bode well for us for the season.”
A lively start saw TSS moving the ball well and pressing Vancouver hard in the early going, but were leaving space at the back, which the CPL side capitalised on in the 12th minute.
Shaan Hundal was played in on a quick transition and the big striker used his pace to head towards goal and finish past Justin Sandhu into the far corner for the opener.
📹@TSSRovers took the game to @vanfootballclub in the early going of their friendly in Langley today, eventually falling to a 2-0 defeat. Shaan Hundal opened the scoring for VFC with this quick transition goal. A good showing from TSS in their first preseason game though.#CanPL pic.twitter.com/aWf0k4MX4c
— AFTN (@aftncanada) April 4, 2023
That was how it stayed until into the second half, with Vancouver looking the stronger and more cohesive side for large chunks of the match, which was understandable considering where the two teams are in their respective preseasons.
TSS were struggling to create any real goalscoring opportunities and find a way past a very big presence in the CPL side’s back three of Pele Martinez, Rocco Romeo, and Ibrahim Bakare. That’s a pretty imposing trio of centrebacks Vancouver FC have and they will be a real handful for opponents to deal with once the season gets underway.
Vancouver doubled their advantage with a free kick early in the second half. Cromack talked about learning experiences from the match, this was certainly one of them and you can be sure that TSS will not be setting up a wall as poorly as that again going forward. Maël Henry was the man to take full advantage, curling a perfect ball around the wall and past Sandhu into the bottom corner.
📹A good learning experience for @TSSRovers in their first preseason friendly of the year, a 2-0 loss to @vanfootballclub. You can be sure they'll not be setting up a wall this badly again at a free kick! Punished by VFC's Maël Henry for his team's second of the game. #CanPL pic.twitter.com/sisglDmK20
— AFTN (@aftncanada) April 4, 2023
Both teams made a few changes and brought on a few of their younger guys. It brought a renewed energy to the Rovers more than their hosts and they took the game to their CPL opponents, carving out a few goalscoring opportunities for Connor MacMillan, Ivan Mejia, and Matteo Polisi.
They weren’t to find the breakthrough though and had to settle for the 2-0 defeat.
All in all, both sides will be happy with elements from this one.
For TSS, it was a good first outing together, with the team missing some of their likely starters to injury and work commitments, while others were not quite playing on fumes after playing over the weekend for their local club teams in the BC Provincial Cup, but having had some intense games under their belt in the last 48 hours, there was definitely an element of fatigue creeping in for some.
There were already signs that the chemistry is building with the squad and some of the movement, especially early on, will give confidence for facing another CPL side, Valour, in two weeks time. TSS have another couple of friendlies lined up before that game on the 19th, but it will certainly be upon them before they know it.
For Vancouver FC, it was a solid display, another preseason victory, and another clean sheet. The backline certainly impressed, and the changes across the attack over the course of the game was interesting to see play out. Trialist Emmanuel Robe had another strong outing leading the line, and you have to feel he will soon be confirmed onto the CPL roster. With less than two weeks till their inaugural season gets underway, they have one more friendly to come to fine tune things before heading over to take on Pacific FC.
You can see a few photos from the match on the AFTN Flickr page HERE.