Final Score: York United 2-2 Pacific FC Goalscorers: Diyaeddine Abzi (32'), Josh Heard (51'), Chrisnovic N’Sa (Own Goal - 67'), Jordan Wilson (82') Game of the 2021 season: 7 CPL match: 142


Match in a minute or less

A back and forth affair where both sides owned leads at IG Field, a 2-2 draw felt a fair result for both clubs as a late Jordan Wilson header saw a single point go to both teams. Pacific dictated much of the play from a possession standpoint but the Nine Stripes showed a physical intensity from the off to limit the Tridents' attack from finding any consistent flow. As has been the norm for York in recent memory, set pieces have been a strength of theirs and thanks to some defensive resilience, Jimmy Brennan's group earned their first point of the 2021 season.

Three Observations

York's physicality slows Pacific attack​

Many of the headlines from Pacific's opening 2-0 victory over the Wanderers were based on the fluency of their attack — for proof of the firepower, look no further than Marco Bustos' opening goal. Clearly York and Jimmy Brennan were tuned in for their oppositions opener as the tactical fouls to disrupt the flow of the Tridents attacking core started with the opening whistle. Although Abzi had to play with some caution after receiving a yellow just two minutes in, his hard foul on Bustos seemed to set the tone for the first half as they allowed the opposition to move the ball about, save for the defensive third. In a game where both teams managed to score twice, their were few clear cut opportunities from open play. Pacific managed just one shot on target (their second tally courtesy of an own goal), while York finished with six shots against Callum Irving despite boasting just 36% of possession. Add in the rate in which Brennan's team have been able to capitalize on set piece chances dating back to last year's Island Games (more on that later) and the stop-start nature feels much more like a tactical design by the Nine Stripes than a coincidental heated contest, a point Pacific's Josh Heard acknowledged post game. "All credit to York, they brought a physicality and to be fair we were quite physical as well," Heard told reporters post match. "But I think maybe we could do a little bit better job of matching that." Pacific swap tactics to free Chung One of the key storylines going into this match was the potential battle between Kadin Chung and Diyaeddine Abzi out wide and how it could prove decisive for either side. Ultimately, Pa-Modou Kah opted to play Chung on the left to free him from Abzi on the opposite flank. It was the neutral viewer who came out on top as both teams pushed their fullbacks high building out the back, making for plenty of quick transitions at both ends. Abzi brushed off an early booking to make his mark on the left side for York, applying the finishing touch on their opening goal. Chung marauded up and down his less natural left wing to give Pacific width throughout the night. Despite Abzi's finish, Kah was adamant post game that his squad had the sort of depth to give Chung the freedom on the other side while still providing appropriate cover for the dangerous Abzi on the other side of the pitch: "We have a squad that we can rely on because every player we put in we can rely on to do a goob job." With plenty of firepower up front in their next match against Forge —including 2019 MVP Tristan Borges — it will be interesting to see how Kah deploys Chung to get the most out of him going forward while also limiting the damage of the Hammers from wide areas on Sunday. Death, taxes, York set pieces Open play hasn't been a strength of York's in recent memory and yet goals have still been coming relatively steadily dating back to 2020. Leading up to this match, Nine Stripes coach Jimmy Brennan suggested their was no shame in earning their rewards largely through set pieces: "If you’re not getting fouled, you’re getting those opportunities on goal; you’re getting into those areas because your momentum is carrying you forward.” The inevitable came once late in the game once again on Wednesday evening as Wilson headed following a post corner scramble in the Pacific box to take their first point of the season. Abzi, the opening scorer in this match, also found the back of the net from a freekick last time out against Cavalry FC on Sunday in what turned out to be a 2-1 loss. Referees tend to blow the whistle and show more cautions when a precedent for physicality is established from the off. If York can continue to use their set piece proficiency to their advantage, don't expect the early challenges to slow down anytime soon. CanPL.ca Player of the Match Josh Heard, Pacific FC Staking his claim for a brace in the post match media availability, Heard was essential nonetheless in the two goals, scoring the first one while playing a dangerous ball into the area before a York touch saw the ball into the net for an own goal. The Pacific winger posed a constant threat on the night, drawing four fouls while adding three shot attempts in what was ultimately a decisive attacking display for his side. What’s next? Both sides are back at IG Field on Sunday as part of a doubleheader with Pacific FC taking on Forge FC in the ComeOn! Match of the Week (7 pm ET/6 pm CT) before York United faces FC Edmonton in the final game of the weekend (10 pm ET/9 pm CT). Watch all games live on OneSoccer.

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