After falling to a late equaliser at home to Halifax Wanderers last weekend, it’s Derby Day on Friday with Pacific FC crossing the Salish Sea to play Vancouver FC. These two sides met for their opening game of the Canadian Premier League season, where Manny Aparicio gave Pacific a 1-0 win in front of their home fans.
Vancouver FC has progressed and gained a stronger identity than they had in that opener, their first as an expansion side in the Canadian Premier League. James Merriman’s side, meanwhile, had a midweek matchup last week against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship, where they lost 3-0. This compounded on the weekend where they looked tired against Halifax at home. This week though, they’ve had some rest, as well as the chance to focus on getting back to themselves, trying to prepare as normal for this big fixture, as Merriman explained:
“It was a difficult week with three games in a short amount of time, with the frustrating and disappointing result against the Whitecaps. It was really nice to get back out on the training pitch this week which we haven’t really been able to do for a while as we have just been preparing for games, the energy and the mood was really good in training”.
It is Pacific’s third away trip of the season, and their shortest one by some margin. Vancouver FC will be hoping to draw in an atmosphere like their opening match after attendance has slipped since. With Pacific in town for this one it is a chance to stoke the rivalry once again, and look to build the demand and excitement in the club’s local area. Merriman commented on the rivalry:
“I think everybody is hopes it will continue to build. It started with Vancouver FC having a good showing with their fans on the island, and then Aparicio had that moment in the opener when he ran towards them after scoring. It wasn’t really designed but that stuff happens in the moment…They are very competitive in every match, very organised and working for each other to make it hard”.
Merriman will look to get his team back on track, especially with Forge FC dropping points this week with a defeat at home to their derby rivals York United. While a lot of the line up can be predicted each week, there are questions at both ends of the pitch. At striker, we will have to see if Adenijah Reid did enough to keep his place, or if Eaton Ongaro or Djenario Daniels will be given the nod. In goal, Kieran Baskett had another good game against Halifax, and Merriman was asked by local reporter Cleve Dheenshaw who would be the starting goalkeeper.
“Kieran (Baskett) has played very well in the Valour match and in the last game (against Halifax Wanderers). He’s earned it right now and he needs to continue to build and develop as well. I see no reason to change”.
Pacific will travel as favourites, but it won’t be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. The second instalment of this new derby in the CPL is upon us, will we see the former Champions continue with the upper hand? Whatever happens, a fun and engaging game will be vital to help continue to build this rivalry, something which will be important for the two clubs as well as the league.