June 22, 2024
  • June 22, 2024

Analysis: Vancouver FC Hold On to Historic Victory At Tim Hortons Field

By on May 18, 2024 0 634 Views

Tim Hortons Field sure does love seeing Olimpico goals.

It was another historic victory for Vancouver FC on Saturday as they sealed their first win over Forge FC in Hamilton to the tune of 2-1, thanks to a goal from Rocco Romeo and a wonder goal from Vasco Fry.

Resilient Defence & Decisive When It Mattered

Looking only at the stats at the end of the first half, you would be forgiven to believe that Forge were 2-0 up on the night instead of Vancouver. Boasting 62% possession, over a hundred more passes, and 8 shots to the Eagles’ 7, Forge were dominating on almost all fronts – aside from the scoreline. That is thanks to a staunch and stubborn Vancouver defense that kept Vancouver’s lead intact through 45 minutes.

Callum Irving, Allan Enyou, and Rocco Romeo were resolute when faced by Forge’s pressure, making several saves, stops, and blocks. A triple save half-way through the first-half prefectly encapsulated how determined this Vancouver backline was to denying Forge any chance at coming back.

Set-pieces then took a massive role for their goals, as the first came just three minutes in through the second phase of a free-kick that saw Rocco Romeo poach a goal from a flicked header by Moses Dyer. The second then came straight out of the Tristan Borges and Kyle Bekker playbook as Vasco Fry scored an Olimpico from the southwest corner flag, ironically at the same stadium where they scored theirs.

“I think as a visiting team, if you can come in early in the match on the front foot and close things down and show your intention to win, it’s fantastic,” explained Ghotbi on his side’s hot start in the Hammer. “We felt that there were areas that we can be successful in and our players listened and implemented them and we won a free kick out of it, a corner and eventually a goal.”

Vancouver didn’t do all that much more in the attack following those two goals, but they had done enough both at the front and back to go into half-time with a two-goal lead.

Strong Heads Prevail in Second Half

While having a good start to the 2024 season, one aspect of Vancouver’s game that has been lacking a bit in recent matches has been their mentality and concentration across 90 minutes. Head Coach Afshin Ghotbi has previously addressed that these kind of issues take their time to be ameliorated, but today his side showed some positive steps forward in that regard.

Forge halved their defecit just nine minutes into the second half, spurring on a renewed energy from one of the league’s most lethal attacks. Many times before have we seen teams buckle under that kind of pressure, including Vancouver this season, but the Eagles held fast for the following near 45 minutes of regulation-plus-stoppage time.

“I think we did well in reacting after that [Forge goal],” answered Ghotbi on his team’s performance after conceding that early second half goal. “I think we even created some chances to go and get the insurance goal. I think all of us saw that Gabi [Bitar] should have earned a penalty, but I’m proud of the way we reacted and held on until the last moment.”

It was a statement win for the Eagles, as they ended Forge’s unbeaten streak at home and got their first road win of the season. To bounce back like that after back-to-back three-goal losses will be huge for Ghotbi to get his side back into form ahead of a busy schedule.

Still Room To Grow Ahead of Pacific

Ideally, when a team scores an early goal, you’d like to think that it spurs them on to try to score even more goals and put the game out of sight by half-time. In reality, however, some teams tend to play over-cautiously and retreat into their own half to defend their narrow lead, especially away from home against strong teams. That is exactly what occured for Vancouver in this match, and despite doing well to hold on for 54 minutes, it was less than desireable for Ghotbi.

“I think sometimes when you get that goal so early, it could also backfire [for your team],” described Ghotbi to media. “And it did for us, for a while. It just seemed that we scored the goal, and then we took our foot off the pedal, dropped back too low and we gave them too much space and posibilities.”

“That’s something we still have to grow in as a team: that when we do score and are ahead, how we have to play away from home.”

Looking over the match, Vancouver could have easily made it 3 or 4-1 with some of their chances created, with Bitar and Elage Bah missing some gilt-edge opportunites. That is another aspect that Ghotbi will look to improve upon ahead of the Pacific match next Saturday.

“In transition from defense to attack, we find space and have opportunites, but sometimes the decisions have to be a little bit calmer,” admitted Ghotbi on his team’s attacks. “The passes need to be more precise, and I feel that that those are what will help us become a championship team.”

Nevertheless, three solid points against a high-flying Forge side is always the boost a coach would like when faced with a tantalyzing derby match versus a wounded Pacific side that will be desperate to bounce back.

With momentum on their side now, Vancouver will look to make it back-to-back wins at home when those two sides face next Saturday at 3pm PT.

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