PREVIEW: Vancouver FC vs. Pacific FC – 2023 Match #30
Canadian Premier League

2023 CPL Regular Season — Match #30
Vancouver FC vs. Pacific FC
May 28, 2023 at 7 pm PT
Willoughby Community Park in Langley, BC
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.

For the first time ever, the CPL’s all-BC derby will head to the Lower Mainland, as Vancouver FC hosts Pacific FC at Langley’s Willoughby Community Park on Friday.

Just the second-ever meeting between these two sides, after they met on April 15th at Pacific’s Starlight Stadium in Langford, this is a huge match for both sides, as they continue to build the CPL’s newest derby.

Often the most intense matches in the sport, derbies usually take time to build, so it’s intriguing to see what both teams have in store for just the second chapter of this young rivalry.

The good news? If the first chapter is anything to go by, there should be plenty of fuel for this one.

In that game, Vancouver pushed Pacific right to the brink all match long, looking far from a team playing their first-ever competitive game as a club.

By the end, however, Pacific got the last laugh, showing their champions’ spirit with a late winner from Manny Aparicio to win the match 1-0.

Not only that, but they then stoked the fires of this derby by immediately running to Vancouver’s contingent of away fans, estimated to be over 150 people, shushing them in celebration.

Safe to say, that’s not left the mind of Vancouver’s players, who are now eager to settle that score in front of their home fans.

“I think this game means more to me than any other game so far,” Vancouver defender, Ibrahim Bakare, said this week. “Because in our first-ever game against Pacific, as soon as they scored, they went over to our home fans and they shushed them, and I wasn’t too happy about that.”

“That’s the first time that we’ve had our fans at a game, they came all the way to Pacific to watch us play, then we lose and they got shushed, so I’ve got a bit of an extra edge going into this game, and I’m sure everyone else does as well.”

Yet, that’s what a good local derby match is about. Fuelled by the heartbeat of a derby, the fans, these matches can often carry significance far beyond 90 minutes on the pitch.

With just under 150 kilometres separating these BC-based foes, this isn’t just a battle for three points – this is also a chance to battle for bragging rights in BC, and they’ll look to prove as much across 90 minutes.

“(Derbies) matter, and they’re great for the club, it’s great for players, and most importantly, it’s great for the fans,” Pacific’s head coach, James Merriman, said this week. “You can really get behind these games, you can attend these games.”

“I know it’ll be difficult late on a Friday for our fans this time, but they’ll be more games to come, but I think each game is going to have its own story, one that will be part of this storyline that’s going to continue to build here.”

All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.


  • Hungry Vancouver looking to fend off feisty Pacific in hunt for first road win: Of course, the derby is a big focus for both sides, but even beyond that, several personal milestones are at stake for both sides, too. First, there’s the big one the hosts are searching for – their first-ever home victory, having yet to win a game at Willoughby Community Park. Sitting with two draws and one loss in three home games there, they’ve just been unable to see a victory over the line. In a city that craves winning, they know how important it’d be to grab a victory to grab the attention of those who like the sport in the region, and that this is a perfect game to do that given its importance. As for Pacific, they’re looking to build on their strong start to the season on the road, having yet to lose away from home. When put in context, it’s not as impressive, as they’ve only played two road games, but they’ll still be pleased to have beaten Atlético Ottawa and drawn Valour in those away outings. Now, with a swath of road games on the docket after a home-heavy start, they’ll need to keep that up if they’re to stay at the top of the table, and no better way to keep that momentum going than with a big win here.
  • Vancouver eager to take next step offensively: Their 5-0 drubbing from Ottawa in week five aside, one thing is clear about this Vancouver FC side – they can defend, and are committed to doing so. Sitting with just four goals conceded from the six other games they’ve played, having allowed one or fewer goals in six of their seven matches, they’ve been a frustrating outfit to break down on their day. Yet, while they’re pleased with that, they know that they’re not quite where they want to be as a team. A big reason for that? Their offence, which is yet to fully hit its stride. In fact, other than a two-goal outburst against York in week two, they’ve scored once in two games and have been shutout in four, including their last three matches. As a result, they’ve squandered the ability to turn those defensive performances into more points, something that they want to change. Despite that, however, head coach Afshin Ghotbi is confident in his squad’s ability to turn things around. Noting that he’s been happy with what his team does with the ball in the final third, he feels that their next step up is to tighten up their build-up play, especially in midfield. In particular, he feels that they need to be much sharper in how they receive and push the ball forward after breaking lines, which hasn’t been at the level he feels that his team should be at. If they can fix that, however, they can be lethal in the final third – Shaan Hundal and Gael Sandoval have been dangerous in the final third, and will likely welcome back their third running mate, Gabriel Bitar, in some form for this game after he’s missed the last three games with a shoulder injury – so getting them the ball more often is absolutely a priority for Vancouver as a team right now.
  • Rested Pacific happy for chance to hit reset button after busy week: After a bright start to the season in league play, Pacific slowed down a bit over their last two games, a pair of 1-1 draws with Valour and Halifax. Yet, that was largely due to their adventures in the Canadian Championship, which forced them to rotate their squad for the Valour game, and then led them to just uncharacteristically run out of gas in the Halifax game. Therefore, having now had the luxury of no midweek game this week, they’ll look to come into this game fresh and full of legs. In particular, that’ll be a big boost for the likes of Sean Young, Aymen Sellouf, Josh Heard and Manny Aparicio, as the first two played big roles across all three games, while the latter two were leaned on heavily in games #2 and #3, leading to some tired legs. Therefore, look for Pacific to get back to winning ways in this game. Having seen Forge drop points in midweek, they’ll know that a victory will push them toward the top of the CPL table, helping keep pace in the push for first place even despite a recent surge from York United. For a team that made a good run in the Canadian Championship, which could easily take a lot out of many other teams, they’ll be happy with where they’re at today, yet that’s just a credit to their strong depth, which will once again be on display in this game. “It was a difficult week for us,” Merriman noted. “But I think adversity from games like that can build character in our group and in our team.”


Vancouver FC (4-4-1-1): Irving; Bakare, Martínez, Romeo, Crawford; Gyimah, Simmons, Zadeh, Tahid; Sandoval; Hundal

Pacific (4-3-3): Baskett, Dada-Luke, Đidić, Meilleur-Giguère, Mukumbilwa; Young, Yeates, Aparicio; Heard, Reid, Sellouf


Vancouver FC wins: 0 || Pacific FC wins: 1 || Draws: 0

Last meeting:

April 15, 2023 — Pacific FC 1-0 Vancouver FC


“I’m very excited about it. I think any time that you’re part of a derby, it reminds you how special the sport is and how special it is being in a new league where there are these derbies, and how we are making kind of history for the future of the game in Canada by having two teams from BC playing each other like this (…) For us, it’s a great occasion to showcase the product that we are developing literally day-by-day, and then we’re hoping that our players bring the best performance of the season for this particular occasion. Pacific is a great team, but I think we are developing defensively to be one of the best teams in the league (in that regard), and as we add parts to our team to become a more attacking-minded and exciting team, I think we can be a team that can not just contend for a championship, but be one of the best in the league, too.” — Vancouver FC head coach Afshin Ghotbi

“We’re learning how to impose ourselves in home games, because we’ve picked up quite a few points on the road, but at home, we haven’t had our first win yet. So going into this game, it’s been stressed more than ever how we want to attack and just be on the front foot from minute one to minute 95. We’ve got to show our fans that we’ve got something exciting for them every week that they watch us play, so yeah, we want to bring that energy into the game tomorrow now.” — Vancouver FC defender Ibrahim Bakare

“Yeah, I think everybody is hoping that (this rivalry) will continue to build. It started with them having a good showing of away fans, and I think Manny (Aparicio) in that moment scored his goal and ran to their fans, it wasn’t designed to be like that, but it was just one of those things that happen in those moments, and it’s now the start of this rivalry for us to build on. We’re looking forward to seeing their grounds, we haven’t been there yet, so that’ll be a first for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the atmosphere is like, how the environment is, and how their fans (sound).” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman