The second-ever Ferryside Derby is officially here. Sporting and territorial rivalries renew when the Mainland’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC comes to the Island for the second time to visit Pacific FC on Wednesday. The first time around it was the Tridents who came away with a stunning and unforgettable 4-3 victory at Starlight Stadium back in 2021, but now even more is at stake.
With this meeting coming in the semi-final round of the Canadian Championship, as opposed to the Preliminary Round in 2021, the winner of this match advances to the 2023 Canadian Championship Final as hosts. The ‘Caps come into the match as defending champions of the competition, but Pacific holds the upper hand from their one previous meeting.
With both clubs in good form heading in, we’re sure to be in for an absolute barnburner of a match. And with so much history, tension, and bragging rights heating up this matchup even further, there’s no telling how incredible this whole occasion could be.
Trends and Stats
Both teams are hitting a good run of form at the right time ahead of this match. Aside from the 1-1 draw against Valour FC on Saturday, Pacific has been red hot since the month of May began. Three wins and one draw from four matches, as well as 11 goals scored and three conceded is a fantastic record for the Tridents. The whole squad is clicking right now, especially in the attacking areas of the pitch where there’s a lot of competition for places.
For Vancouver, two losses followed their 4-1 victory over York United FC in the Can Champ quarter-final, but a resounding 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC on the weekend helped lift the mood around the club. The ‘Caps now sit seventh in the Western Conference, in the playoffs by two points but also just a point off fifth. The spirit around Vancouver is significantly higher than it was when they visited the Island in 2021, but even then the club was on an eight-game unbeaten run heading into the match and still fired their head coach Marc Dos Santos following that victory for the Tridents.
One match. One glorious match. The entire history of this fixture can really be synthesized into one sentence: BC is Purple.
In all honesty, the history of this rivalry will loom large over the match tomorrow. Everyone who was in attendance on August 26, 2021 remembers how that match played out, and even those not in the stands know how things went down. A 4-3 victory for the Tridents over their more-established Mainland neighbour was the biggest moment in club history at that point, and opened everyone’s eyes to the quality and potential of the Canadian Premier League.
More history will be written on Wednesday as the ‘Caps look to put things right in their eyes and Pacific looks to reinforce themselves as BC’s best.
“I have full trust in our group and the players that played in the match against the Whitecaps the first time. They understand what it means to be true to Pacific and play the way that we want to play, but also be respectful of who we’re going against.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman
Players to Watch
Pacific FC – Sean Young, Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Ryan Gauld
The Victoria-born-and-raised Young is quickly establishing himself as one of the best players in the Canadian Premier League. The epitome of an all-around midfielder, Young has taken his game to a new level in 2023. The 22-year-old has been one of the first names on the team sheet for Merriman, playing in all but 30 minutes of Pacific’s eight games so far, with two goals and three assists to his name already. Young also wore the captain’s armband for the first time during the club’s 1-1 draw in Winnipeg on the weekend, showing his stature in the squad at a (no pun intended) young age. There is no limit to how far Young can go in his career, but the Island will always be in his blood and in a match of this importance that hometown passion will show through on the pitch.
On the Vancouver side, Gauld is the man who runs the show. The Scotsman joined the ‘Caps in 2021, just a month before the first-ever meeting between these two clubs, and helped the club push for the playoffs that season after Dos Santos’ firing. Gauld has 14 goals and 15 assists in 67 total appearances for Vancouver and won the club’s Player of the Year award after his first full season in 2022. His creativity and leadership are crucial to Vancouver’s success, as was highlighted during the club’s run in the 2022 Canadian Championship which culminated in a trophy. Also essentially the ‘Caps captain, Gauld is the danger man for Pacific to keep an eye on on Wednesday, responsibility for which will fall on all of the midfield three including Young.
Keys to Victory
You can’t look to replicate the previous victory, but there are some notes to take. Vancouver looked overwhelmed by the smaller confines of Starlight Stadium in terms of the size of the pitch as well as the general intimacy of the ground and closeness to the pitch of the supporters. As a team, use that home crowd to your advantage and pressure the ‘Caps from the moment they receive the ball in any area of the pitch. The supporters will get behind an all-or-nothing approach, but at the same time don’t lose your organization amongst the chaos.
In a tactical sense, whether it’s Easton Ongaro or Djenairo Daniels who start up front, use their size to your advantage. Daniels may be the best pressing forward in the CPL, while Ongaro is a top-class finisher with great build up play. The rest of the XI likely picks itself at this stage of the season, but whoever lines up as the no. 9 to start the match will help the Tridents keep their opponent’s backline very busy.
Match Facts to Know
- Much like the last time these clubs met, there are lots of connections to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Pacific FC’s squad. Kekuta Manneh, Easton Ongaro, Josh Heard, Georges Mukumbilwa, Eric Lajeunesse, Amer Didic, Paul Amedume, Emil Gazdov, and head coach James Merriman have all either spent time in the ‘Caps system or been drafted by/trialed with the team.
- Four players who appeared in the 4-3 victory in 2021 are still with the Tridents: Manny Aparicio, Josh Heard, Kunle Dada-Luke, and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère. Sean Young was also on the bench that day. For Vancouver, nine players who were in the matchday squad are still with the club.
- Pacific’s 4-3 victory over the ‘Caps is the only win by that scoreline in club history.
It’s not too late to get your tickets for the match! Join the action at Starlight Stadium with one of our many ticket options, which can be found here!