May 20, 2024
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Vancouver FC Moses Dyer

The Eagles Soar To The Top: Vancouver FC vs Valour FC Match Analysis

By on April 15, 2024 1 714 Views

It was exactly the start the home side wanted.

On Sunday afternoon, Vancouver FC came back from a goal down to defeat Valour FC 4-1 in the club’s home-opener in what was a statement win from the Eagles.

Goals from Moses Dyer, Paris Gee, David Norman, and Gabriel Bitar made the difference to put Vancouver top of the table after Matchweek One.

Rusty Start Gave Valour Hope

As can be expected, the opening stages of the match were a little underwhelming given that it’s both teams’ first match of the season. They were both getting the feel of the match in the early minutes, testing the waters of their opponents’ respective structure to see who would break first.

In the end, it was the home side that conceded first, after giving all the time in the world to ex-Toronto FC rising star Themi Antonoglou to cross a dangerous ball into Vancouver’s box. Australian striker Jordan Swibel managed to find space and rise above his marker to loop a header into the top corner.

It was a great goal by the Winnipeg side, but it was made too easy for them as Vancouver were caught sleeping in their marking and in their pressing and got punished for it.

The goal became a real wake-up call for the Eagles to not let their heads drop and to keep shape. Last season we might have expected this team lose steam after conceding and go down a few more, but this year we are seeing a different mentality from the team altogether.

“After conceding that [early goal], I think the mentality of the guys, especially of all the guys that came in, all the veteran players, the young guys too, we came together,” described Paris Gee on his team’s response to going down.

The mentality to bounce back bore fruit in the closing stages of the first half after a wonderful exchange by Bitar and Alejandro Diaz saw Moses Dyer pick the ball up in the box, drop the shoulder, and rifle his shot past Jonathan Viscosi to level the match.

Finding That Killer Instinct And Unity In Game One

After half-time, the tides had turned in Vancouver’s favour. Inside three minutes, Paris Gee thundered a long-shot from the corner of the 18-yard-box and duped Viscosi at his near-post. It was a moment of magic from the homecoming defender, and the celebrations reflected that as the whole team came together to commemorate that goal as the fans went wild in the stands.

“I think whenever there is unity, like in any team or organization that has success, there is a united front,” explained Vancouver FC Head Coach Afshin Ghotbi on his team’s togetherness in this match.

“Everyone is happy to be together. I feel like they enjoy being together, playing together. The trust that exists between each and every one of them is what allows them overcome a deficit like a 0-1.”

To the home crowd’s pleasant surprise, not only did they overcome the deficit, they blew past it by blowing past Valour’s defence. Gabriel Bitar made up for an earlier miss to make it 3-1 on the night with a cool finish inside the box before David Norman got in on the fun to mark his homecoming match with a goal as well.

Valour did get a red card in between those two goals after Jordan Faria got his marching orders after a contentious second yellow for diving, but it did little effect to what was an already one-way affair. There was only going to be one winner in Langley, and it left the home side sitting pretty, perched atop the table at the end of the first week.

Strength in Depth & Quality the True Secret Weapon

While the team was impressing on the pitch in large spells of that match, what struck more for many onlookers was actually who was not on the pitch. Players like James Cameron, Anthony White, and Eliott Simmons (who had picked up a knock) were not dressed at all in the matchday squad. These are guys that not only were starters last season but they were some of Vancouver’s most consistent players. Cameron was an U-21 Player of the Year nominee, but he was not picked to be with the team for the match, truly reflecting the rise in competition and quality in this squad.

“I’m not a big believer in rotation, I am a big believer in performance,” remarked Ghotbi when questioned on his team selection. “As long as, as a coaching staff you are fair, and you set certain bars… in a given week, and you put the best 18 players in selection, and it’s not only in terms of the best players, but also the team that gives you the most balance and variety you need in a given game”.

With roughly two starting-quality players for every position and a couple hungry young rotational players in the mix as well, Vancouver have created a perfect competitive atmosphere for these players to work hard and develop quickly as they chase those starting spots. Whether everyone is happy with such a set-up will remain to be seen, but for now, it might be the secret formula to a substantially more successful season for the Eagles.

Header Image Photo Credit: Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC

1 Comment
  • CJ 1 month ago

    To show you how close Wpg media is following Valour, this appeared in today’s Free Press:
    “Valour struck first off the foot of Jordan Swibel, one of the club’s new faces this season, in the 24th minute.” Uuuuhhhhhh…it was a header. Even Valour’s website seemingly can’t distinguish a cross from a volley which is how they described the ball reaching Swibel’s noggin. You’re right Coach Dos Santos, this season is going to be a marathon.

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