Vancouver FC toothless at home once more after goalless draw with Valour

Vancouver FC toothless at home once more after goalless draw with Valour

Vancouver FC have had a tough time so far at home in Langley. Winless in three, and only scoring one goal in those three games is not the best of starts for this young side, especially when you are trying to impress and connect with your local community. To their credit, the performance against Valour was valiant, but toothless once more. And to be there in the play-offs by the end of the season, Vancouver needs to make Willoughby Community Park a fortress, and quick.

Inauspicious Start Almost Leads to Goals

With injuries still for Kadin Chung and Gabriel Bitar, head coach Afshin Ghotbi provided another tactical change for this match against Valour. VFC seemed to play in a 4-4-1-1 with Nima and Elliot Simmons as the double pivot, Gael Sandoval as the 10, and, surprisingly, Mouhamadou Kane as striker. Kane has been a bit of a utility player for Ghotbi, after playing at centre-back and centre-mid already for the team. Meanwhile, in defence, Kwak played on the left and Ibrahim Bakare on the right side of Rocco Romeo and Peel Martinez.

Vancouver struggled to take control of the match from the start, with Valour’s press forcing them to concede a majority of possession. It felt like Vancouver couldn’t get control in the midfield with only two players in the middle against Valour’s three. However, that didn’t deter this Vancouver side, as they broke through the wings quickly and set up a couple of great chances.

Shaan Hundal had a great opportunity saved by Rayane Yesli, before Kane himself almost got a goal by having a cross deflect of his face and into the net. By the end of the first half, Vancouver had an xG of 0.93 to Valour’s 0.77. They just couldn’t convert those chances into goals.

Few Tactical Tweaks Too Many?

In the second half, Ghotbi surprised us all once more as he decided to throw caution to the wind and play Ibrahim Bakaré, who has played as right-back or centre-back all season, as a forward. This pushed Kwak back at right back with the substitute Tyler Crawford at left-back. As quizzical
a change as it was, it proved to not be as effective as Ghotbi likely would have wanted it to be.

Kwak, already on a yellow card, now had to deal with the ever-dangerous Pacifique Niyongabire, who switched to his side cleverly as Kwak now had to think twice before going in on him. This resulted in Kwak having a tough time defending Niyongabire, who got past him a few times in that second half, and required Rocco to help him out as well. Meanwhile, Bakaré struggled to affect the game in the attack, only being able to progress the ball a handful of times.

With players consistently being put out of positions and into new positions, it is not surprising that some fans are getting frustrated at the lack of consistency, since in the case of some players like Kane, we never know where he is going to play. Perhaps it is a case of putting round pegs in square holes due to the injuries to crucial players, but that then falls on how Vancouver recruited, because you know that injuries come and you need to have back-up plans that don’t rely on teaching whole new positions to players.

TJ Tahid Looks Like A Special Player

One bright spot for Vancouver was the first start for young starlet TJ Tahid. The 16-year-old Maple Ridge native began the match with the team, and quickly showed his defensive ability and tireless workrate. He made five tackles, eight recoveries and won 50% of his defensive duels. When sent down his left side, he was rapid, and went toe to toe with players that were 10+ years his senior.

Having a player like TJ shows that belief in youth can pay off greatly. He is already a gem in this squad, and has the world as his oyster in terms of his potential. Already possessing an intelligent football brain, now it’s about cultivating his ability and honing his talent so that he can
become the next best thing in the CPL.

2023 CPL: Vancouver FC v Valour FC (28/05/2023)

Authored by: Felipe Vallejo

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