2023 CPL Regular Season — Match #28 Vancouver FC vs. Valour FC May 28, 2023 at 5 pm PT/7 pm CT Willoughby Community Park in Langley, BC Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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The final match of the weekend in the Canadian Premier League will take place at the newest stadium in the country, as Vancouver FC hosts Valour FC for the first time at Willoughby Community Park in Langley, BC. Both sides will be looking to get back into the win column after a few weeks without tasting victory. Last time out, Valour held Pacific FC to a 1-1 draw at IG Field, battling hard despite two more injuries to their backline to come from behind and pick up a point. Vancouver FC had arguably the best performance in their short history thus far, keeping their first clean sheet to become the first team ever in the CPL to play out a 0-0 draw at Tim Hortons Field against three-time champions Forge FC. For Vancouver, there is a bit of added pressure around this match, as they look for their first ever victory at home. In their home opener, down to ten men after Rocco Romeo was sent off, they managed to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Cavalry FC, an inspired performance in front of over 6,000 supporters. Their second home game wasn't as successful, as Atlético Ottawa came to town and left with a 5-0 demolition of the CPL's newest club. In home game number three, they'll look to right some wrongs and try to get that first victory in front of their supporters. After an extraordinary start to the season that has seen nearly every defender on the team miss at least a game or two through injury, who plays centre-back for Phil Dos Santos' team on Sunday remains to be seen. The positive news for Valour is that Abdou Samaké -- who was supposed to start last weekend but got hurt in the warmups -- doesn't appear to need any significant time on the sidelines, with the Mali-born defender already back training with the team. Andrew Jean-Baptiste is also nearing a return to the pitch after getting injured in preseason, but may not be able to play yet on Sunday. Klaidi Cela has been solid since joining the team from Vaughan SC a few week ago, and is expected to start again against Vancouver. Both teams will have a bit of a boost, however, as Dante Campbell returns to the team after serving a one-match ban for yellow card accumulation, and Rocco Romeo returns after a two-game suspension after being sent off earlier this month against Cavalry FC.

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  • Will Vancouver record first home win?: Vancouver FC's first two home matches went very differently. The first one, a magnificent occasion on May 7 against Cavalry FC in front of over 6,000 fans, saw the team draw with their visitors, but down to ten men on a dubious decision to send off Rocco Romeo, they battled back to get an inspiring point. Moral victories unfortunately don't count for much in this sport, but for Vancouver it was a result that they put everything into on an occasion that they had been waiting a long time for. One week later, they were less successful, losing 5-0 to an Atlético Ottawa side that was struggling to start the season -- with head coach Afshin Ghotbi saying after the match that his team was second-best in every department. This week they're looking to build on a strong performance on the road in Hamilton to deliver that first home victory. "I think it means a great deal to our fans, it means a great deal to the organization, and obviously it means a great deal to each and every person that has invested so much time and energy in the everyday building of this club," said Ghotbi on Friday. "I think the wins will come at home and away, I'm not worried about if they will come and when they will come, I'm just concentrating one day at a time and one game at a time to try to improve the group so we can create consistency in performances and consistency in results."

  • Campbell, Romeo return from suspensions: Both Vancouver and Valour will have a key member of their squads return to the field this weekend after serving suspensions last time out. Vancouver centre-back Rocco Romeo, who previously played for Valour, was sent off in the club's home opener for alleged serious foul play after colliding in the air with Myer Bevan. He served a two-match ban, missing VFC's games against Ottawa and Forge, but is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday. Dante Campbell, however, missed just one game for Valour after being handed an automatic one-match suspension for already picking up four yellow cards on the season in just five matches. The midfielder, who can also play centre-back and right back (and might need to given Valour's current injury struggles at the back) has been a key player since rejoining the Winnipeg-based club this past offseason. "His quality as a football player is very important to our team," Vancouver boss Afshin Ghotbi said of his centre-back, adding that Romeo "makes others around him better." Ghotbi's counterpart Phil Dos Santos countered with similar sentiments about Campbell, saying that he is "an important piece of the way we shape the team right now."

  • Winning the midfield battle is key: Both of these clubs have played well in midfield to start the 2023 season, and will get an opportunity to test themselves against each other on Sunday. Vancouver will be without their top performer to this point in the season, however, as midfielder Kadin Chung -- who had been reinventing himself into a midfielder after previously being a star in the CPL at right back -- will be out for several months with a broken collarbone suffered against Atlético Ottawa a couple of weeks ago, while Gabriel Bitar's status is uncertain as well as he too recovers from an injury suffered in that game. Against Forge last weekend, Elliot Simmons and Nima Moazeni Zadeh put up big performances against a very strong Forge midfield, and will be looking to build on that momentum again this week. Valour boast a strong midfield as well, which includes Diego Gutiérrez -- the CPL's Player of the Month for April -- the aforementioned Dante Campbell, Marcello Polisi and talented young Canadian Juan Pablo Sanchez. Raphael Ohin is also apparently nearing a return from an injury suffered in the Canadian Championship a few weeks ago, but his availability for Sunday remains to be seen. Both teams pride themselves on being very difficult to break down in the middle of the park, and it will be up to the attackers and attack-minded midfielders to really make a difference in Sunday's meeting in Langley.


Vancouver FC (4-4-1-1): Irving; Bakare, Martinez, Romeo, Crawford; Gyimah, Zadeh, E. Simmons, Kwak; Sandoval; Hundal Valour (4-3-3): Yesli; Baquero, Campbell, Cela, de Brienne; Sánchez, Polisi, Gutiérrez; Niyongabire, Novak, Williams


Vancouver FC wins: 0 || Valour FC wins: 0 || Draws: 0

Last meeting:

First meeting between the two sides.


“I think they're a very difficult team to play against, because they bring certain physical qualities and maturity. They are very ruthless when it comes to getting numbers around the ball and being physically very strong in duels. When they win the ball they're so quick at getting in the final third. I think it's a very difficult opponent for all the teams, and as you can see they've taken a lot of points from a lot of the teams in the league.” — Vancouver FC head coach Afshin Ghotbi

“[They're a] resilient, organized team. It's a group that is passionate, that competes. I think it's going to be a very difficult game. Their last time at home, it didn't go their way, and they'll come prepared." — Valour FC head coach Phil Dos Santos

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