Story of the Match
Pacific FC fell 3-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Canadian Championship semi-final/second-ever Ferryside Derby on Wednesday night, but the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story.
After a bright start from Pacific, a quick counter-attack from the Whitecaps put the visitors in front in just 14 minutes. The Tridents very nearly found the opening goal through Ayman Sellouf’s shot just seconds before Vancouver went the length of the pitch to score. Three minutes later the ‘Caps got a second through Ali Ahmed off a long throw-in to make it 2-0 for the visitors.
In a horrifying moment less than a minute after the second goal, Ahmed was taken down in the box and fell awkwardly onto the turf. The 22-year-old was down for around 17 minutes as the medical teams attended to him. It was a scary sight for all inside the stadium as everyone waited to hear news on him. He was eventually taken to Victoria General Hospital and cleared to travel back to Vancouver with his teammates that night.
After the stoppage, Pacific looked like the team more likely to grab a goal but the chances that fell their way weren’t taken with the clinical edge needed in a match against a Major League Soccer opponent. The second half was more of the same from Pacific, with a goal just not presenting itself. Despite a good amount of pressure put on the ‘Caps backline, the visitors stood firm and eventually grabbed a third goal in the 75th minute to seal the match.
It was disappointing from a sporting perspective as Pacific didn’t play as well as we know they can, but off the pitch the day was still incredible. The brilliant support shown from the stands highlighted the passion for soccer on the Island as a record attendance of 5,221 was announced during the match.
The Tridents didn’t look entirely like their usual selves on Wednesday night. There was clearly a gameplan in place to force Vancouver into making mistakes in possession before pouncing on those mistakes. By starting Djenairo Daniels, one of the best pressing forwards in the Canadian Premier League, the Tridents knew they could use his physicality to bully the ‘Caps backline. With Josh Heard, Ayman Sellouf and Kunle Dada-Luke in wide positions as well, getting into good areas down the wing and delivering crosses from the byline would likely lead to good chances. While that did play out to a certain extent, after the Whitecaps grabbed a couple of early goals, any kind of gameplan would’ve had to adjust.
Next on the schedule, HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday in the Help Fill A Dream Match. A quick turnaround for the squad after an intense mid-week match could be either a blessing and a curse. In one sense it gives the team a chance to very quickly shake off the negative emotions of a tough loss, but on the other hand this has been a gruelling opening stretch of the season and a match so soon after a Canadian Championship semi-final will require the Tridents depth to pull through.
The worst moment of the match was seeing Ahmed stay down after the hard fall, but hearing the news that he had been cleared to travel back with the ‘Caps after being taken to hospital was a sigh of relief.
The club is pleased to share the following and most important message of this evening, Ali Ahmed is cleared to travel with the team back to Vancouver.
Ahmed suffered a concussion with a momentary loss of consciousness. He regained consciousness and was transported to the…
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 25, 2023
Our thoughts are with Ali and everyone at the Whitecaps 💜 https://t.co/Psq2otB53j
— Pacific FC (@Pacificfccpl) May 25, 2023
PFC Standout Player: Manny Aparicio
In perhaps the least surprising insight from Wednesday, Aparicio was all over the pitch and led the Tridents in many attacking and defensive statistical categories. The effervescent midfielder was the only non-defender to play all 90 minutes and was fantastic throughout. Aparicio led all PFC players in touches, passes, and passes into final third, and had the highest pass accuracy of all Pacific players to play the full match. On the other side of the ball, Aparicio left an equally big imprint on the game by winning six duels (most on the team) and winning possession 14 times (most in the game), as well as having two tackles, two interceptions, and two clearances. Aside from the numbers, the 27-year-old had his usual effect on the game in terms of pushing the team forward to either press or counter-attack depending on the state of possession. All told, while the match itself isn’t something the team will look back fondly on, one of the leaders of the team again showed the level that’s required in the biggest matches of the season.
14’ – Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Julian Gressel
17’ – Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Ali Ahmed
78’ – Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Simon Becher
Possession: PFC 46 % – VWFC 54 %
Shots: PFC 16 – VWFC 10
Shots on Target: PFC 3 – VWFC 5
Saves: PFC 2 – VWFC 3
Fouls: PFC 10 – VWFC 16
Offsides: PFC 1 – VWFC 0
Corners: PFC 7 – VWFC 5
47’ – Manny Aparicio – Yellow
56’ – Sergio Córdova – Yellow
75’ – Tristan Blackmon – Yellow