With eight games left to go, including today’s in Toronto, Vancouver Football Club still has a chance at a playoff spot.
And that’s what the head coach is focused on achieving.
York Lions Stadium is a historic venue for Vancouver FC. It holds a plethora of firsts for the expansion club.
In the first outing at the Ontario stadium, VFC played in its inaugural Canadian Championship game. Just three days later, VFC’s Shaan Hundal scored the franchise’s first goal just six minutes into the contest, with the team eventually registering its first franchise victory with a 2-1 win over York United FC.
Vancouver FC is currently coming off a significant home victory against its B.C. rivals, Pacific FC, where Gabriel Bitar registered Vancouver’s first franchise brace.
The team is now in Ontario and counting down the hours until the final time (in its inaugural season) where it faces York, and head coach Afshin Ghotbi is hoping to experience a number of additional first – including another win on the Toronto pitch.
Vancouver is 1-1-0 (W-L-D) against York in regular season play so far in 2023 and will be looking to continue its upward momentum, Ghotbi added.
“Obviously, we’re not happy where we are on the table,” he said the day before this game.
“We’re not happy with the points we have so far. But, with eight games to go, we still have an opportunity to correct that.”
The goal, he said – despite experts telling him it’s impossible – is to make it to the playoffs.
“I think nothing’s impossible, and as long as mathematically we have a chance, we’re going to do everything we can to get ourselves close enough that at least in the last few games we have a chance to get into the playoffs,” Ghotbi said.
Asked what kind of toll setting up a new professional soccer team has had on him, Ghotbi reflected.
“I feel like the best years of my career are ahead of me, even at my senior year as a manager. It’s like anything else, the more experience you gain in life, the wiser you become, and you understand how to manage different moments better,” he said.
”This project has been a massive challenge for many different reasons, and that’s a book we have to maybe write in the future. But, I can tell you it’s trying to bring all different pieces on and off the field to reach a certain level of professionalism, that’s been my biggest challenge. And, that takes enormous patience, which I’m not sure if I always have that. And, it takes a lot of resilience, which I do have.
“I think those are the challenges I face, but I’m very happy with the evolution of the team, and I think when you look at the first goal we scored against Pacific [in last weekend’s game], it kind of puts it all together, because it was almost the two-plus minute of possession with very, very intelligent ball movement and very precise passing sequence that got us in a position to get a shot off, and to score that ball on a rebound, which is not an easy shot.”
“Personally, I think, there is so much I can give still to this game,” said the coach, applauding the ongoing efforts of his players.
“The spirit they showed, it really puts a smile on my face that we’re going the right direction,” he shared.
Today’s (Friday, Aug. 25) match between Vancouver and York kicks off at York Lions Stadium in Toronto at 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET.
West Coast fans can catch the match on dedicated soccer channel OneSoccer, available to all Canadian households through OneSoccer.ca.
Based in Langley, Vancouver FC was founded in 2022 and kicked off its first Canadian Premier League season in May.
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