Vancouver FC hoping to showcase BC talent to disappointed Messi fans with free “Soccer Saturday” ticket offer

Vancouver FC hoping to showcase BC talent to disappointed Messi fans with free “Soccer Saturday” ticket offer

While Whitecaps and Vancouver soccer fans reeled at the news that Lionel Messi, along with teammates Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets, weren’t making the six hour flight west to play for Inter Miami in Saturday’s MLS match at BC Place, local Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC were quick off the mark with a promotional offer to try and console the disappointed fans and get them to come along to cheer on another team that play in pink jerseys.

Vancouver FC take on Pacific FC at Willoughby Stadium in Langley on Saturday afternoon in the first CPL derby of the season, in what is certain to be a highly competitive and feisty affair.

The club are offering all fans with a ticket for the Whitecaps vs Miami match complimentary tickets to check out the derby with Pacific. An offer is also open to existing season ticket holders and people who have already bought single match tickets for the CPL game enabling them to obtain a free additional ticket to bring a guest along to the derby. Full details can be found in the link in the tweet below, with fans just needing to show proof of their Miami ticket to take up the offer.

It’s a fantastic offer and one hopefully a number of fans will take up, although perhaps worth noting that if all 50,000 fans were to do so there would be a bit of a problem!

Attendance at the match was expected to be lower than the norm, with many fans choosing to head to downtown Vancouver early to take in the festivities and catch an early glimpse of the Miami players arriving and warming up.

With Messi and his missing teammates now confirmed to be still in Florida, VFC head coach Afshin Ghotbi is hoping local fans will now still make it a day of football by partaking in an exciting double-header of matches instead, the first of which will be showcasing what local talent is on offer to watch week in, week out, and not just imported superstars.

“We all are trying to help develop this game and I look at tomorrow like Soccer Saturday,” Vancouver FC head coach Afshin Ghotbi told AFTN on Friday’s pregame media call. “We have an opportunity for all the soccer fans in the British Columbia area to come and see not only our team, but also see the Whitecaps. The games are, I think, timed in a perfect 3pm and 7.30pm. There’s enough time for the Vancouver Whitecaps fans to come and see what what we’re about.

“We have about about 13 players from the BC area. We have another seven that I think play for Pacific. That’s 20 local players that were born and raised here, and developed here, and I feel that it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the game in the lower mainland and in the British Columbia area. And I also believe that what we’ve done as a club is to try to show the people that follow sports and want to learn more about the game and to see how exciting CPL can be.”

For one of those local players, Port Coquitlam’s Kadin Chung, the Messi no-show and the opportunity this now provides Vancouver FC to showcase the talents of the local players, is not lost on everyone at the club.

The hope is to put on an exciting afternoon of soccer, winning over some first timers and adding some new regular fans for the Langley based side.

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity because it’s a derby match,” Chung told AFTN. “It’s a game that’s gonna bring in a lot of emotion, but also this is a game that is gonna showcase a lot of our local talent here. I don’t know the exact number but I think we have around 20 BC born boys between the two squads and that’s something that fans can go out and see and kind of almost look at us and be like, wow, this is where the game is headed here locally.

“Hopefully we can bring that quality that we’ve seen from both clubs so far this season. But yeah, I think it’s gonna be a very exciting match for people who go out and watch like most derby games. I think it’ll be a great moment for the both clubs and also the the new fans coming to watch.”

It’s been a good week for the CPL, with Cavalry and Forge both beating MLS opposition in the Canadian Championship. The league continues to grow and the quality and competitiveness on the pitch continues to improve season upon season.

With many fans feeling aggrieved at perceived price gouging for Whitecaps matches against Miami and the upcoming friendly against Wrexham, Ghotbi hopes his club and the league can capitalise on any discontent and show local fans that a cheaper alternative is available. Albeit not of the same quality at the top level, but not too far off it when you get down to some of the depth around MLS.

“Last week the result of Calvary and result of Forge gives another indication that Canadian players playing in CPL can compete with Major League Soccer teams,” Ghotbi added. “So maybe the names are different, maybe the salaries are different, maybe the infrastructure is different and the logistical supports are different. But there’s tremendous amount of talent in British Columbia.

“I have personal experience in Major League Soccer many, many years ago where we would play a Second Division team in the US Cup and it was very difficult games. Every game was difficult and there were MLS players that they were not that much better than players in the Second Division. It’s maybe the Designated Players that are the differentiators, but the the rest I think is quite close and we need to kind of show that to the fans, that there is a lot of football to see in Canada. The CPL is a fantastic league and a growing league in only its sixth year.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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