Old Friends, New Rivals: Rocco Romeo is back in action on a special night

Vancouver FC is returning to Willoughby Community Park with the mission of securing their first home win in club history when Valour FC visits this Sunday. The goal to win is always a motivator for athletes but in VFC defender Rocco Romeo’s case, he has plenty more incentive to leave it all out on the pitch this Sunday. 

Firstly, Romeo is excited to get back in the lineup for the first time after receiving a two-game suspension due to an appealed red card in the home opener. The call shocked VFC fans who showed their support for the 23-year-old: “Some of the supporters reached out through social media, with very encouraging words.” Romeo continues, “This community and this club have built such a pure foundation in such an early stage.”

Rocco Romeo being consoled by Callum Irving after being shown a red card (Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC)

Romeo’s absence was noticed in the defeat against Atlético Ottawa and the draw against Forge FC. While Romeo admits that it was tough not being able to fight next to his teammates, he believes that “Sometimes [hard times] bring out the best in people.” With a veterans’ mentality, Romeo quickly refocused his attention to training and used the time off of the pitch to come back a better player. Even after missing two games, Romeo is still one of the top 3 players for interceptions in the league (12) and will be looking to reclaim the top spot. 

Another reason why Romeo has an extra stake in Sunday’s match is because he will be facing his former team Valour FC. Romeo spent the last two seasons with Valour, an experience that provided him with valuable information on Phil Dos Santos’, Valour FC head coach, tactics. “Just to be practical…, to not take any risk in our own half, [and] to stay connected up and down the field, especially on counterattacks,” shares Romeo on some key factors to claiming victory.  

Rocco Romeo with the ball in the home opener game against Cavalry (Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC)

Seeing old friends is not something that distracts Romeo from his objective as he’s long moved on to team VFC. “[Valour FC] took really good care of me there. It’s always mutual respect but at the end of the day, I’m looking to destroy them.” The defender added that he always looks forward to reconnecting with old teammates but the hugs and smiles will only happen after the final whistle blows. 

Finally, for Romeo and the rest of the Vancouver FC squad, Sunday is an important chance to get back into a playoff spot. For the first time this season, VFC is sitting out of the top five teams and a victory this weekend could catapult them to third place in the table. “You just want to be in the race always,” said Romeo. “You don’t want to be playing catch-up by the time August or September comes around.”

Rocco Romeo intercepting a ball during a training session (Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC)

With his determination set, goals in sight and fire in his heart, Romeo is ready to leave it all on the pitch at Willoughby Community Park and help Vancouver FC to victory. 

Sunday’s match is Vancouver FC’s Firefighters’ Appreciation Night where the club will honour our local heroes and recognize their daily efforts. VFC will also donate 10% of the ticket sales to the BC Burn Fund. Join us in what will be a spectacular match by getting your tickets here