Final Score: Pacific FC 2-2 York United (3-4 on penalties) Goalscorers: Đidić 11', 90+7' ; Thompson 25', De Rosario 31' 2022 Canadian Championship Quarter-Finals​


Match in a minute or less

Just days after combining for a quiet 0-0 draw at Starlight Stadium in CPL action, Pacific FC and York United ramped things right up in their rematch in Langford on Tuesday, as they met in the quarter-finals of the Canadian Championship. There, they put together a thrilling cup tie, one that York only narrowly won 4-3 on penalty kicks, putting the bow on a match filled with goals, yellow cards and all sorts of drama. After a hot start from Pacific, who nabbed an early lead through Amer Đidić, York replied nearly instantly, turning around the score to 2-1 before half time thanks to goals from Roger Thompson and Osaze De Rosario. From there, they nearly held onto that lead right to the end, too, if not for a dramatic late equalizer from Amer Đidić, who sent things to penalty kicks on the last kick of the game. But despite that late push from Pacific, York, as they did in the round prior against Atlético Ottawa, then took care of business in the shootout, capping things off with a big save from their goalkeeper, Niko Giantsopoulos, who denied Marco Bustos to send his team to the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

Three Observations

York continues to be cup warriors thanks to more penalty heroics:

When it comes to the Canadian Championship, that just seems to wake something up in this York United squad, for whatever reason. Be it in 2019, where they made it to the quarter-finals of the Canadian Championship after winning two rounds, only narrowly missing out on the semi-finals in a 3-2 aggregate loss to MLS’s Montréal, or in 2021, where they made it to the quarters again, they’ve seemed to like this competition a lot. Now this year, they’ve taken that one step further, as they’ve now made it to the semi-finals, having shown some great resilience along the way. Yet, that’s just been the magic that they’ve been able to conjure up in the cup. And that would manifest itself in this game. Right from the get-go, York seemed up for this one, showing no fear against a Pacific team that has been so good at home this season, and are top of the table for a reason. Having surprised them in that 0-0 draw just a few days prior, they wanted to show that it was no fluke in this rematch, so they came out with a certain mentality right from the get-go. As a result, that allowed them to surprise as they did. Even after going down early, they put their heads up and got right back into it, and thanks to that, grabbed the lead at such a crucial time. Then, once they had it, they were nearly perfect until the very end, just one kick away from rounding off the game. And even when they gave up the late goal, they didn’t let that affect them, instead channelling it into a strong penalty shootout performance. Thanks to that, they were able to keep their cup journey alive, even if like in the round prior, it might not have been the way that they drew it up. “I wish we could have won it in regulation time,” York’s penalty hero, Niko Giantsopoulos, said afterwards. “We'll probably find out how to close games a bit better, but to survive and advance (the way we did), that's Cup football, and it made for a good show.” But if anything, that’s just a credit to the ever-developing mentality and identity of this York team. Always filled with promising young talent, they’ve been a fun team to watch since day one, and that hasn’t changed. Now, however, they’ve developed a certain edge, one of a team that is starting to realize its full potential, and this run is a great example of that. From their sturdy defence, which statistically remains one of the best in the league, to timely goals, it’s slowly starting to come together for York now, allowing them to dream of potentially lifting silverware at the end of this journey. “There's a strong mental will in that locker room,” York’s head coach, Martin Nash, added. “And these guys work very hard day in and day out, and do everything I asked for, so I couldn't be more proud of them.”

Pacific looks to channel frustration of cup loss into what lies ahead:

Heading into this game, you could sense the confidence in Pacific’s group. Having made the semi-finals of last year's tournament, there was an expectation they could repeat the same feat again, and even take it one step further and go to the final. Instead, they’re now left to rue what could’ve been, especially given how things ended. Due to certain moments, from how they defended the first two goals, to how the shootout went, they just found themselves on the wrong side of a closely contested match, leaving them to leave this competition early. But if anything, this game was a good reminder of what Pacific still needs to work on, even despite their perch at the top of the league table. As their manager, James Merriman, noted afterwards, there are still areas where his team can stand to improve, from being more clinical, to defending wide balls, and those two things really hurt his side in this game. “We can't let teams back in the game, we need to push on take our chances and put that game away in the first 15 minutes,” Merriman said. “The way that we started, it shouldn't have come to this, but we let it come to this, and we put ourselves in this situation so we need to be better and we need to learn from that.” At the same time, this is far from the end of the world for Pacific. The loss will sting big time, especially given their ambitions, but they’ve still got two other trophies to compete for, as they will enter into CONCACAF League later this summer, to go along with their ongoing quest to repeat as defending league champions. Plus, despite how this game ended, there was a lot for Pacific to be happy with. They showed great fight in the comeback, and as seen by the final stats, which saw them edge York 1.19-0.54 on Expected Goals (xG), outshot them 15 to nine and held 56% of possession, they did a lot of good things on the ball. Especially in midfield, where Luca Ricci and Jamar Dixon responded well to the absence of regular stalwart, Manny Aparicio, Pacific did still put together a solid performance despite the result, with moments, not the overall game, being where they faltered. So as they get set for what lies ahead, continuing to manage those moments is going to be key, especially in the big games. They do that, and their season still can end in a pretty good way, with success in the league and CONCACAF League still very much on the table, with their strong start in the former being a good indication of why. “Yeah, it’s gonna sting for everybody,” Đidić said. “The only thing we got to do is wake up tomorrow, we have a game Saturday in the league, so we’ll set full focus onto that, and we have plenty of soccer left, plenty of goals we still want to achieve as a team.”

Quick turnaround leads to surprise offensive outburst, among other adjustments:

After Pacific and York combined for a 0-0 draw in CPL action this past weekend, a game in which both teams combined for just 1.23 xG, it was hard to imagine that this cup game, with even more at stake, would find all sorts of goals. Expected to be a cagey game, especially given how physical and tight-fought that first matchup was, it set the table for a similar kind of game in the rematch. Or so you would think. Instead, goals ended up flowing in this game, especially in the first half, in which both teams traded goals in a fun three-goal stanza. Yet, that also probably shows why both managers saw this quick rematch as a benefit to their sides, instead of a hindrance. Having played each other just days earlier, they had a chance to dive deep into the game footage from that match, and apply it directly to this one. As a result, it felt like both teams came into this game much more familiar with how the other wanted to play, giving them a better idea of what to exploit. To get an idea of how so, just consider the goals that were scored, as an example. After failing to breach the target in game one, all of the goals scored in this game came via set pieces and crosses. That’s important to note, as teams defend those moments in patterns, which means that it’d theoretically be easier to study how to break down a team in that way than any other, meaning that it’s no coincidence that those were the kind of goals that they scored in such a match. And there were several other instances of that. Pacific, for example, really tried to control the midfield more than they did on Friday, making it an emphasis of theirs to try and break down York by pinging balls between Dixon and Ricci in the middle of the park. Through that, they looked to play a little quicker than they did in the last game, giving them a bit more urgency to their play, which is reflected in how they were able to win the xG, shots and possession battle quite confidently, unlike Friday. “When we are in control, when we're on the ball, that's when we play our best football,” Merriman said of how his team looked to play. Meanwhile, on York’s end of things, they really tried to make things happen through early wide crosses, something that they didn’t do enough of on Friday. As a result, wide players, such as Lowell Wright, Diyaeddine Abzi, and Sebastian Gutierrez, all saw a lot of action, as they were tasked to whip in all sorts of dangerous balls. Through that, they were able to score one goal via that avenue, and came close on several occasions, finally starting to show some of the offensive flashes that Nash has said that they have in them, even if they haven’t shown it all the time. And considering that they scored two goals on just 0.54 xG, that’s an even further indication of that, showing some of the quality that they can have in offensive areas. “On the first game Friday, we weren't getting runners in the box, the ball wasn't being delivered,” Nash explained. “So in the end, there was nothing coming from our good actions, so we talked about ways we can get around them and get these crosses in the box in those areas.” Yet, those adjustments just show how the uniqueness of this rematch likely led to the excitement that we saw in this game. So although this won’t be something we see often, as it came about due to a rare scheduling quirk, it was quite interesting to see how that quirk influenced this game, especially when comparing it to the first match of this set.

CanPL.ca Player of the Match

Amer Đidić, Pacific FCc Usually known for his strong defending, Đidić showed some great offensive flair in this game, nabbing a well-taken brace. Not only that, but his goals were clutch, too, as he scored his team’s opener and late equalizer, which is about as good as it gets for a defender. You factor in that he completed 56 out of 61 of his passes (92%), cleared five balls, won seven out of 11 of his duels and recovered 10 balls, and that really rounds off a solid day at the office for him. So although he’ll rue how his team defended York’s second goal, he was otherwise spotless on the night, finding a way to leave his mark on this game.

What’s next?

Having qualified for the semi-finals of the Canadian Championship, York will travel to play the winner of Wednesday’s Cavalry FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps quarter-final, with that semi taking place sometime between June 21st and June 23rd. Meanwhile, in CPL play, Pacific returns to action on Saturday, May 28th, when they take on Valour FC at Starlight Stadium (4:00 p.m. PT/6:00 p.m. CT), while York will be in action on Sunday, May 29th, when they host Cavalry at York Lions Stadium (12:00 p.m. MT/2:00 p.m. ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. 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.

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