History-Maker Hundal Takes Shot At Whitecaps
Canadian striker Shaan Hundal proved a history maker this weekend as he forced a turnover in York United’s own box before coolly slotting home the finish to score the first goal in Vancouver FC history.
The 23-year-old’s return to the Canadian Premier League was a nice cap to his time stateside, where he tallied six goals and three assists in 21 matches for Inter Miami II, even impressing enough to earn a call-up to the senior side. Speaking with media after securing a historic 2-1 victory for club – and in his hometown, no less – Hundal says he was pleased to follow in his former coach Danny Dichio’s history-making footsteps.
“This one meant a little bit more, because it’s history, being the first goalscorer. I grew up being coached by Danny Dichio, and every time I go to a [Toronto FC] game they sing a song for him. I get goosebumps every time I hear it. I grew up looking up to him, and for me to do it with the club in Vancouver, and do it back home in Toronto, it feels really good.”
The expansion side produced a fairly clinical performance, with five big chances resulting in four shots on target and, of course, two goals. The Nine Stripes, meanwhile, produced 21 shots, of which seven went on target. Markiyan Voytsekhovskyy pulled a goal back before half-time, but a comeback would elude the home side on a rainy afternoon at YLS.
The interview took a divergence when Hundal fired off a shot at the Vancouver Whitecaps, who haven’t been consistent playoff contenders in Major League Soccer circles. While based in Langley, Vancouver FC aims to provide another entertainment option for sports fans in the lower mainland, and Hundal suggests his new team might be better bang-for-buck when it comes to those entertainment dollars:
“It’s nice to have a team in Vancouver that has a brand,” he said. “I know the Whitecaps are there, I don’t think they’re winning a lot of games. It’s nice to be a new team that got a win this early in this season. I hope we can show all of Vancouver what we can do and what the Whitecaps can’t.”
This weekend’s win was the second league match in VFC’s history, with the club opening to a one-nil loss against neighbouring side Pacific FC eight days ago.
When the Whitcaps were two matches in to their own season, they had two draws. They now rest with four draws, two wins, and two losses after eight matches played, so there might be some ‘receipt checking’ done when Vancouver FC is a few more matches into its own season, too.
If Vancouver FC had won its Canadian Championship bout against York United on Wednesday, a knockout match between Vancouver FC and the Whitecaps would be on for next month. Instead, it’s York who’ve set themselves up for a rematch.
Hundal isn’t worried: the striker says he’s matured on-and-off the pitch since his spell with Valour in 2020, and believes the goals will start pouring fourth as the young team grows.
“The first day I got into Vancouver and training, it was a lot different than what it is now,” he says. “Afshin always tells us that the club is growing brick-by-brick, and he’s right. He told us to wait until April-May and we’d see a complete team, and what’s done with the team from the first day and now six-seven weeks later is mind blowing.”
Vancouver’s first-ever head coach has quite a dossier for North American football: having come ninety minutes away from a World Cup Final whilst assisting Guus Hiddink with South Korea, Ghotbi has previously coached Iran and has held positions with the USA, LA Galaxy, and title-winning Persepolis, among others.
“I know I’ll get my chances – today I should have had a first-half hat trick, if I’m being honest,” added Hundal. “I know the chances are coming, so I wasn’t pressured. I just had to be confident enough to finish it.”
He certainly finished his big chance this weekend, though whether he’ll get a song every match like Dichio remains to be seen. The young club will need to wait a few weeks before enjoying its first-ever home match, a bout against Cavalry FC on Sunday, May 7.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques