York Closes Out Vancouver FC, Whitecaps Await
The second match of an unexpected Canadian Championship double-header at York Lions Stadium saw two clubs keen to spark their first win of the season duke it out, with York United defending an undefeated cup record at home whilst Vancouver FC sought to make history with the club’s first-ever goal and win.
York’s Mo Babouli made the most of Referee Michael Venne’s early penalty call in the 6th minute, burying his shot at the right post, far beyond Vancouver’s frozen keeper.
While the stat sheet greatly favored York United (2.49 to 0.94 expected goals, more possession, and key touches) the visitors recovered from a shaken first half with a vibrant effort that forced Niko Giantsopoulos and his defensive partners to make several key clearances.
Over the final forty-five minutes Vancouver grew into the match – much as they did against Pacific FC – they held 60.5% possession and even rang the ball off the woodwork in a spirited but losing cause that ended their maiden Cup adventure at the first hurdle.
Due to ongoing injury and fitness challenges, York’s makeshift lines were tested but their mentality held, with several players forced to play out of position. As Coach Nash noted afterward, “It was a bit of a risk, playing two nines and two tens through the middle, made my heart race at times…but it worked.”
Vancouver FC’s second ever match was well attended by traveling fans in support of Vancouver FC and Nathaniel St. Louis, a Toronto native who got his start playing as a youth at Vaughan Soccer Club and Markham Soccer Club.
At the final whistle, Vancouver’s Callum Irving was left to lament the opportunity lost for his side to host the Whitecaps in Langley for what would have been a massive derby for his new club. Instead, York United have now booked themselves a ticket to hosting a quarter-final match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who will be the second MLS team to ever visit York Lions Stadium. The MLS side had bested York United 2-1 in a cagey cup match at BC Place last year, but the Nine Stripes had exerted themselves nicely on the day.
While much of the squad has changed, Coach Nash has faced the Vancouver Whitecaps four times before; York will now get the follow TSS Rovers’ example to earn a ‘cupset’ of their own at home in early May.