Gabriel Bitar earns CPL Player of the Week for brace against Forge FC

For the second consecutive week, a Vancouver FC player has been named as the Canadian Premier League’s (CPL) Player of the Week. Goalkeeper Callum Irving earned the recognition last Tuesday for his penalty save performance against his former team, Pacific FC in Matchweek 12. Today, it is midfielder Gabriel Bitar who’s been awarded the accolade for the brace he scored against Forge FC which helped to steal an all-important point at Tim Hortons Field.

Bitar, 25, has appeared in all but one of Vancouver’s games so far this season but Friday was the midfielder’s first start in the club’s last four matches. The native of Ottawa did not waste any time in pressuring Forge and found the back of the net just 12 minutes into the match. 

Bitar found himself completely open in the middle of the attacking zone as Vasco Fry brought the ball over centre before passing it to No. 10. The midfielder took a few dribbles closer to the net before sending an absolute strike from just outside the box for a perfect top-corner goal, reminiscent of chances that Renan Garcia would capitalize on and already marked by as, “…an early candidate for goal of the season.”

The first half would end with Vancouver leading 2-1 but a red card issued to VFC early in the second half shifted momentum in the homeside’s favour. Forge would score two goals to take their first lead in the match and it all came down to injury time for Vancouver to steal back at least a point.

Bitar would be the answer for the Eagles, once again sending a rocket at the net that couldn’t be stopped by Forge’s keeper. The battle began with David Norman pressing high to challenge and steal the ball from Forge, sending it free towards the top of the box. Bitar pounced on the loose play and without hesitation hammered home his second goal of the night to tie the match at three and ensure VFC were undefeated at Tim Hortons Field in 2024.

Bitar’s brace on Friday was his second in the midfielder’s VFC career with the last instance happening on Aug. 19, 2023 in a 3-2 derby win over Pacific FC where Bitar also registered an assist to contribute on all three of the Eagles’ goals. Bitar is also still the only player in Vancouver’s history to score two goals in a single match.

In addition to his brace, Bitar registered a team high of three successful dribbles, five possessions won including two in the final third, a team high of three shots on target, and one big chance in the match. Bitar’s efforts earned his first Performance of the Match this season and was also named to the League’s Best XI for Matchweek 13, his second nod of 2024.

Make sure to catch Bitar and Vancouver FC as they begin a three-game homestand at Willoughby Park. The first match of three is against Bitar’s hometown club, Altético Ottawa, which is set to kick off at 7 p.m. PT on Friday, July 12. Tickets and details on the rest of VFC’s remaining home games can be found online here.