Vancouver FC Announces Four Player Departures
After wrapping up its first-ever season with a seventh place finish, Vancouver FC has confirmed four player departures as it enters the offseason.
The expansion side had also released seven players at earlier stages throughout its inaugural campaign.
The club has now confirmed the release of forwards Shaan Hundal and Nathaniel St. Louis, midfielder Nicky Gyimah, and goalkeeper Jeremy Zielinski, with Afshin Ghotbi already working quickly to flesh out his the 2024 Vancouver FC roster plans.
While the club only made it official this week, Hundal’s departure has been known since October. The striker had scored the club’s first-over goal and featured heavily in its first campaign, tallying six goals and one assist through 29 appearances.
It was a hot start for Hundal, with five of his goals goals coming in the opening nine games. His sixth and final came before he was displaced by the club’s loan of Alejandro Diaz: after the Mexican striker arrived on July 11, Hundal found himself shifted frequently out on the right wing with reduced minutes, and didn’t score again for the side.
Now in talks with multiple clubs – not all of them in the CPL – it remains to be seen where Hundal will land next.
Forward Nathaniel St. Louis made history as the first player to sign with Vancouver FC through the university circuit, with the Toronto native having inked a contract following four seasons of NCAA action split between Syracuse University and the University of Alabama Birmingham, before which he developed through one of Canada’s largest soccer powerhouses via the Vaughan Soccer Club.
The 22-year-old never broke through into the club’s starting eleven, making five appearances off the bench to earn a total of 80 minutes in his first season of professional football.
Midfielder Nicky Gyimah had a similar struggle in terms of minutes: after arriving to the expansion side from National League South side Slough Town, the former Sunderland U-23 prospect started out with eight consecutive appearances under Ghotbi before falling out of favour. Having not appeared in the matchday roster since August, the 20-year-old Englishman had looked a likely departure for some time now.
Gyimah departs with 12 appearances and 251 minutes of action in Canada’s top flight, and looks likely to slot back into the English lower tiers.
One of a trio who signed at the same time through open trials, 24-year-old goalkeeper Jeremy Zielinksi will also make way. The six-foot-two youngster arrived from Hawai’i Pacific University, making one appearance against Halifax before his eventual departure. The California native – who holds Canadian papers – left quite a positive impression on club captain Callum Irving despite his departure.
“This year he grew so much as a goalkeeper in so many ways,” he told Northern Tribune. “Just learning how to be a pro – he’s somebody that works really hard. He’s one of if not the first guy in every single day and he tries to do all the right things. He’s got that mentality of wanting to be a good pro, and then it’s just honing that into being an effective goalkeeper. I think he learned a lot this year, and we’ll see where he takes it from there.”
Thoroughly blooded after their first season in the Canadian Premier League, Vancouver FC has released eleven players from their inaugural roster – though seven of these moves came before the season ended. The loan of Cristian Mares became a non-starter, while the likes of Emmanuel Robe, Eugene Martinez, Kahlil John-Wentworth, and Marcus Simmons occurred throughout the season, with star signing Gael Sandoval also seeing a contract termination and Mael Henry being traded to Cavalry.
Having finished on a strong note with five wins from their last seven – all of which came after they were mathematically eliminated from playoffs – it’s clear that Vancouver FC isn’t afraid to make changes when the club feels it necessary. With more roster news set to come throughout the next few weeks, it’ll be interesting to see where veteran head coach Afshin Ghotbi takes the team.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques / Beau Chevalier