With several "big name" teams still mired near the bottom of the table after Week 3, it is certainly changing the emphasis on this portion of the season. Generally, the VMSL is a league where you can plod along until the University players return in November and then it is a whole different league. However, this season, it is looking like some teams may well behind the eight ball by that point, suddenly increasing the value of the points up for grabs in the early part of the season.
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 4
Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves v CCB LFC
Not exactly the encounter you would be expecting if you were told the bottom two side's in the VMSL Premier division were set to clash in Week 4. Both these teams have been like treacle getting out of the gate this year, only one point them between them, courtesy of Metro Ford's Opening Day 0-0, and three goals apiece. CCB are clearly missing last season's leading scorer, Milad Mehrabi, though a closer look reveals that perhaps CCB's lack of offense should not come as a surprise given that, beyond Mehrabi, they actually no longer have any of their top three strikers from last season. Both Victor Blasco, who went on to professional endevours at Pacific FC, and Yassin Essa, who has flipped back over to rivals Pegasus, chipped in with 10 goals each last season. Add those to the 17 Mehrabi accounted for and that is 27 of the 55 goals that CCB recorded as a team, or roughly half. Since coming in to take over as the main striker two weeks ago, former UBC and Rino's Tigers man Kristian Yli-Hietanen has looked lively and certainly created opportunities, but he is yet to score and CCB need that to change in a hurry. It is a similar story in Coquitlam where their leading scoring from a season ago are not so much missing as missing in action. Talisman Carlo Basso firing blanks three weeks in a row has been a rare occurrence during his productive time in Metro Ford colours while last season second leading scorer, Adam Jones, is yet to make an impact this season. Both teams are certainly desperate for the point to avoid a rather barren first month of play, however, I am not sure there is much to separate the sides. Sure, if one group's offense can click into gear, then they should be easy winners, but, barring that occurrence, I think we are looking at either a low scoring, or non-scoring, draw here.
Columbus v Guildford FASA
Since beating CCB on Opening Day, FASA have looked decidedly average at best. They were entirely outclassed by promoted White Eagles and then beaten last week by a NorVan side that came into that game without a point, or even a goal. This week it is a tangle with the other newly promoted boys, Columbus. Goal scoring has been in sharp focus for the Italians as they have managed only three in three games, all scored by striker Adriano Negri. He will be needing some support if Columbus are going to stay in the division, and this match really does have the look of a relegation six-pointer to it. Fortunately for Columbus, their defense has been rather stout, as evidenced by their solid 1-1 draw against West Van last time out which earned them their first Premier point. Assuming they can put in another top defensive performance, it is tough to see FASA being able to be as resolute at the back. While they have some exciting offensive pieces, and veteran Ramsey Alfantazi who set the pace in Division 2 will only add to that when he gets healthy, it is tough to see "Guildford" outgunning teams on a weekly basis. Again, they seemed to try that method against White Eagles and it backfired woefully. They need to learn how to defend and grind out results if they are to survive at this level, they have yet to show any signs of that that in their locker and it is likely to be their undoing once more this week.
Club Inter EDC v West Van
Down 3-0 early to Hurricanes last week, Inter looked dead and buried before storming back over the last half hour. It is the first real statement of intent since being the odd team out last season when it came to Provincial Cup qualification. True, this "statement" only amounted to a draw and Chinter do only have two points to their name, but, with a handful of teams ahead of them on three points that Chile will consider eminently catchable and two other Provincial rivals already below them the door is open for Inter to establish a foundation for a top half finish in the early part of the season. This week, however, they must grapple with West Van, who surely have title ambitions, although, despite amassing seven points through the first three weeks, they have not exactly stormed out of the gates. They needed a late goal to beat promoted White Eagles on Opening Day and after what seemed like an emphatic 4-0 win of neighbours NorVan, last week the other promoted side, Columbus, held them to a 1-1 draw. After this match against Inter, the Amblesiders have a pair of stiff tests against two other teams that make up the early top four in Hurricanes and Pegasus. So we should get a thorough examination of the former Trollers title credentials over the coming weeks. A win over EDC this week looks to be almost a must.
Pegasus v Rovers Hurricanes
This one is definitely the MOTW as two undefeated rivals lock horns in a Surrey derby. Rovers are no doubt still smarting from giving up the three goal lead they had over Inter last week that cost them not only two points, but their perfect record as well. Neighbours Pegasus had no problem maintaining their perfect record though, knocking off Metro Ford by a score of 3-1. After a dreadful season last year that saw the horsemen hovering on the edge of the relegation battle, nine points from nine should almost already guarantee safety this year. For perspective it took Pegasus until the end of November last season to amass nine points when a 1-0 win over Rino's took them to 11 for the season. Will the early struggles of CCB and Coquitlam, Peg must be surely thinking that a return to the Provincial Cup is well within their reach this season. Continuing to pick up points will be key and a tangle with Rovers will be a tough test. This fixture is often spicy and, in fact, had to be abandoned last season with Rovers being awarded the points. Both these sides come into this match in good form, irrespective of Hurricanes drawing last week, so it is pretty much a coin toss. It should be a cracking match though and, hopefully, goal-filled as well. Tough to pick a winner so I will turtle and say they split the points.
NorVan v Rino's Tigers
It was a much needed win for NorVan last week against FASA after not scoring a goal in their two previous matches, both losses. Things got a bit nervy with FASA coming on late, but, in the end, the North Shore boys were able to do enough to take all three points. It was much needed as well, with unbeaten Rino's and their perfect record en route to North Van this weekend. Rino's trailed for the first time this season when White Eagles took an early lead, but the Vancouver side fought back and, ultimately, got the winner with new talisman Farivar Torabi scoring late for the second time this season. Rino's are not overpowering teams as they have sometimes been able to in the past with a deep roster laden with college and semi-professional talent. However, Tigers are getting the job done, which perhaps demonstrates a new maturity within this young group. Will it last all season? We will have to wait and see. As for this week, NorVan will likely be able to relax slightly after ensuring an important three points last week in a match against a team that appears likely to be in the bottom half of the table this season in FASA. While they will of course hope to build on that win, I am not sure there will be too much desperation with matches against the newly promoted sides still on the horizon.
Burnaby Selects White Eagles v Croatia
Well White Eagles certainly appear to be able to score at this level, or at least top scorer Matlash Vladyslav does anyway. Whether they can keep the ball out of their net against the VMSL's best though remains to be seen. Twice the once Serbians have been locked in a late stalemate with a top team, West Van on Opening Day and Rino's last week, only to blink and concede a late goal that cost them the points. Against FASA they looked to be the free scoring side that lit up Division 1 the past two seasons, however, the best teams do not afford opponents nearly that amount of chances in a game. One of those top sides, defending VMSL champions, Croatia, are on the docket for White Eagles this week. After coming out on the wrong side of a cagey Opening Day affair against Rino's, Croatia look to be back to their top form following wins over Coquitlam and CCB. They have to be favourites to continue in that vein in this one as well. One side note, it will be interesting to see if any of the old Serbian White Eagles versus Croatia rivalry from a decade or so ago when both these teams were in Premier carries over to this match. Those games back in the day often needed big venues and, at times, a police presence. These days things are seemingly less intense, though both clubs have a loyal and vocal fan base that often turn up to watch their games, so this one might well be worth keeping an eye on.
And then there was one. Rino's Tigers are the early leaders as they are the only team able to go four for four to start the Premier season. The real intrigue is at the bottom though. With FASA and White Eagles managing to chip away and pick up points, things are starting to look dodgy for the teams being left behind. Could their be a relegation shocker this season? There are a number of really fascinating fixtures on the docket this week that should give us some insight into whether or not that is a serious possibility!
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 5
Croatia v NorVan
With all the relegation turmoil at the bottom so far during the early stages of the season, NorVan would be well advised to start picking up some points. They have next week off with CCB heading to Nationals, but after that they play promoted White Eagles, followed by fellow early stragglers Metro Ford, Columbus and Inter. A prolonged barren spell could see them installed as relegation favourites in a classic "second season syndrome" scenario. After an important win over FASA to earn their first points of the season, NorVan were back to looking as though they were short on answers against high flying Rino's in a 2-0 loss. The problem for NorVan seems to be changing the game in those crucial moments, which, ostensibly, boils down to being able to score. The North Shore side are not being trounced per se, but it appears their lack of offense spark more or less just leaves them in a scenario where they are ostensibly just waiting to lose. In all three of their losses they have been kept off the score sheet. This week, after conceding an early goal to Rino's, NorVan were in the game for the next 80 or so minutes, but failed to muster any kind of serious threat until, eventually, Tigers put the game out of reach. That is the story of their season so far in a nutshell. Goals change the entire complexion of a match and NorVan just cannot score them at the moment. It is a path many a relegated side have gone down recently, think Westside, Richmond, Columbus last time they were up, etc. It is not that they are not competitive, it is just that, when they need that one moment of brilliance, it seems to be lacking. It does not help their cause either that their leading scorer from last year, Blake Burgon, seems to be needed for double duty with NorVan's masters team, which makes you wonder how much he has in the tank from week to week. It is tough to see anything other than a similar scenario playing out this week for the North Shore boys. Again, Croatia are not exactly lighting things up through the first month of the season, look no further than their tepid 0-0 with White Eagles last time out for evidence of that, but you would bet on them to find the crucial goal or goals, if needs may be, when the sides clash this weekend. If NorVan get some bounces and take a lead, they may well be able to hold on and get something out of this game, but if it is a matter of who will break a stalemate, then surely Croatia are the favourites.
Rovers Hurricanes v Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves
It was a statement win last weekend for Rovers over rivals Pegasus, who came into that one on the back of a perfect three wins from three to begin the season. Now Rovers are one of three teams remaining without a loss as they sit tied for second place, two points off the pace of leaders Rino's. They will be without one of their potent weapons this week as Pavi Dhillon has already managed to amass three yellow cards, leading to an early suspension. However, while Dhillon has chipped in with a pair of goals so far this year, likely the most impressive feature of the Surrey side's record to this point of the season is the fact that they have been scoring by committee. Already eight different players have popped up with a goal for Rovers and none of those players are current Golden Boot holder and perennial scoring title challenger Nick Soolsma. Odds are at some point the former TFC man will break through and, given the struggles that Coquitlam are having to start the year, you would not bet against it coming this week. Indeed, Metro Ford find themselves limping along at the bottom of the table for the second time in three seasons. One has to wonder how the psychology of the dressing room is given their record and the fact that they had a 2-0 lead against CCB who had also struggled to begin the season and they managed to let that slip before being ultimately beaten by 10 men. Those are the sorts of moral defeats that can rip to the heart of a team. In the same way that it is surprising to see Soolsma absent from the Rovers scorers, perhaps even more conspicuous is the disappearance of Coquitlam's long time talisman Carlo Basso. The Tri-Cities boys desperately need his domineering presence back bossing matches for them if they are going to pull out of this rut in time to challenge for a Provincial Cup spot. Metro Ford have had good success recently against Rovers, so maybe this is the perfect tonic for their woes. However, given the current form of the two teams there is only one favourite here.
CCB LFC v Burnaby Selects White Eagles
One last tune up for CCB before heading to Nationals and they will be hoping to leave for Newfoundland on a high note after finally notching their first win over Coquitlam last week. It was a comeback effort that showed the level of gumption that CCB will need if they are to defend the National title that neighbours Rovers won representing BC last season. While their eyes turn to the national stage though, there is still the matter of their domestic record to consider. It has been a dismal start to the season for the Provincial Champions, but they were at far from full strength. A healthier lineup was able to claim all the points last week, but how many players will be risked this week? Obviously the Surrey boys will have to try and balance getting guys game minutes and trying to build momentum with ensuring that they have a full strength roster for what is a grueling five games in six days tournament. Also not helping matters is the suspension picked up by striker Kristian Yli-Hietanen who has been driving the attack at CCB since joining in Week 2. He is ineligible to join them at Nationals as he played in the Provincials for Rino's last season, so one would have assumed that he would be leaned on heavily for minutes in this match. Instead, others will have to fill the void. For their part, White Eagles have looked competent through their first month in Premier. Close run losses against top sides West Van and Rino's Tigers sandwiched around a trademark White Eagles offensive outburst in a comprehensive win over FASA. Last week they showed plenty of grit in a 0-0 with old rivals Croatia. Expect these solid performances to continue and Burnaby are always a threat to score with Matlash Vladyslav, who remains the league's goal scoring leader despite being held off the board for the first time last week. This match is a tough one to call. Prevailing wisdom would have the Provincial Champions handily beating a newly promoted side, but not knowing what kind of lineup CCB will field makes this such an unknown. They have shown they are susceptible to conceding goals and that will play right into Burnaby's hands. With an eye on Newfoundland already, I think CCB might just let another VMSL game slip.
West Van v Pegasus
This one is definitely the MOTW as a pair of teams who have got off to great starts clash as they both look to stay at the top of the table. West Van remain undefeated after they bounced back from dropping surprising points in a draw newly promoted Columbus by beating Inter 4-2 fairly straightforwardly. Peg, meanwhile, were handed their first loss when they fell 3-2 in a heated derby with Rovers out at Newton. Both sides are trying to keep pace at the top with early pace setters Rino's and at least one of them will likely lose further ground this week, assuming Rino's can get a result. Pegasus came into this season as a bit of an unknown after a poor 18/19 campaign, but the return of Yassin Essa and the return to form of Sahil Sandhu, who has scored in every match this season, has lead the Surrey side back to their accustomed place competing at the top of the table. As for West Van, they have come as advertised, with most expecting the current Imperial Cup holders to challenge for the VMSL title this season. Matches like this will separate the wheat from the chaff and while the reverse fixture might come at a more prescient time of the campaign, the points count just the same in this one. If either of these teams are to be serious title contenders, they will need to pick up all the point over their top of the table rivals. That being said, with the hard-nosed defensive style that the former Trollers are famous for, chances are likely to be at a premium at Ambleside on Saturday. Not sure there is more that a goal in this game, one side or the other, so I will split the difference and the points.
Rino's Tigers v Columbus
After losing to FASA last time out, alarm bells are likely starting to ring for Columbus. The Italians surely would have been targeting FASA as not only a team they could take points off of, but also one that they could finish above in their pursuit of survival. With FASA instead grabbing all the points for themselves in a late, and somewhat controversial, 4-2 win and fellow promoted side White Eagles looking comfortable at this level, Columbus are likely going to have to start searching for points against established Premier sides. A trip away to league leaders and 100% starters Rino's Tigers is surely the last thing the struggling side needs. Adding to their headache is the fact that marquee offseason signing and influential midfielder Mark Baldisimo is set for a spell on the sidelines after getting into a verbal altercation with the referee last week and earning himself a red card. Given the current form of the teams, this one looks fairly straightforward. Tougher tests await for Rino's to vet their title credentials and, certainly, slipping up against already relegation threatened Columbus is not a recipe for success. Worth noting though that Rino's traditionally lay an egg early in the season at some point though, last season it was a shock loss to Richmond. This edition of the squad looks to good for something like that to bite them, but, I suppose nothing is entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Guildford FASA v Club Inter EDC
Perhaps the most intriguing match of the weekend goes Saturday night in Burnaby. Not sure many would have predicted FASA to have more points and more wins than Inter after the first month of the season. Even with Chinter's struggles last season that saw them fall back from the top teams and miss out on Provincials, no wins and just two points through four games is still a surprise. Likewise, with all the turnover caused by FASA acquiring Guildford's spot in the top flight, a 2-0-2 record for the pseudo-new boys was not likely to be at the forefront of the expectations for this group. Yet, here we are. After coming out on the right side of a potential relegation six pointer with their 4-2 win over Columbus, FASA now have some breathing space. With EDC mired four points back of them, an further result this weekend would only add to that breathing room. However, after a tougher schedule than perhaps most to begin the season, Inter will surely been targeting this one for their first win of the year. Expect the full Inter pomp and circumstance as they look to assert that they still belong in consideration with the rest of the VMSL's top teams. The stakes are high though as there is little margin for error for the "Italians." A loss here would genuinely bring them into the early season relegation discussion, something Inter will be keen to avoid. Of course their is history there for the club as Inter did drop down for a season back around circa the 2012/13 season and, of course, EDC were relegated two years ago providing the impetus for the merger of the two clubs. Usually the once Chileans would be clear favourites here, as I do expect a top effort, but based on recent performances I will hedge my bets and say this one finishes as a draw.
I see Blaise cheque book is finally paying off. Sunglasses wearing loser on the sidelines should be stopped. Why can’t BC Soccer or CSA do anything about this. Is it because they don’t have the proof? They don’t care? Takes away from the integrity of amateur soccer.
<Blaise. Make a CPL team if you have so much money to throw around you ex con. Sorry ex pro’ dang autocorrect>
Best of luck to CCB who are away at Nationals this week. Of course, their absence means we enter into the always fun portion of the season where the teams have not played the same amount of matches, meaning their is always the caveat of "games in hand" to consider from here on out. Everybody is under the Friday Night Lights this week, so we shall see which sides are left to get extra festive of the holiday weekend and which are instead stuck ruminating over turkey dinner...
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 6
Columbus v Croatia
Things are starting to look somewhat bleak for Columbus as the Italians are now five games without a win in their return to the VMSL's top flight. It looked like the Italians might have a established a foothold following an impressive 1-1 draw with title challengers West Van, however, they failed to consolidate that performance and actually managed to do so in rather spectacular fashion. Tied 2-2 with Guildford FASA, another side tipped to struggle this season, FASA were set to have a man sent off late in that game. Instead of settling for that and pocketing, you have to think, at least a point, Columbus managed to implode. Marquee summer acquisition, Mark Baldisimo, managed to get himself sent off on the same play and now the newly promoted side are without his services for the entire month, as he was handed a five game ban. To make matters worse, at ten against ten is was FASA who went on to score the goals they needed to win that match. It was little surprise then to see Columbus on the losing side once more last time out against league leaders Rino's and now they will face current VMSL title holders Croatia. Fortunately for the Italians, the Croatians have not exactly been in that same title winning form so far this year as Croatia are struggling to score goals on a regular basis. Still, the red and white clad outfit have accrued enough points to remain relevant at the top of the table, just five points back of Rino's. In fact, Croatia are unbeaten in four with their only loss a 1-0 at the hands of the aforementioned Rino's on Opening Day while their only other dropped points came against White Eagles in a 0-0. So perhaps it is not that they are not scoring goals, as any time they have found the net they have come away with maximum points, it is just that they have not always been able to find a crucial goal when they needed one. Odds are pretty good that they find a goal or two this week and it would look to be a pretty safe bet that their record of winning every game they score in should continue this week.
Club Inter EDC Burnaby v Rino's Tigers
Full credit to Rino's for being the lone remaining 100% side in Premier. There are still plenty of stiff test to come to examine their credentials as true title contenders but, in the meantime, they have certainly taken care of business. One of their traditionally most heated rivals, Inter EDC, are next on the agenda, though you cannot help but wonder, given Inter's early struggles and them finishing outside of the Provincial Cup places last season, if some of the vitriol from this rivalry's heyday has fallen off in recent times. Surely Chinter will huff and puff, but right now they seem to be lacking some of the substance to back up their undying self-assurance. That being said, putting seven past FASA last week will no doubt have been a shot in the arm, however, losing defender Todd Lucyk to suspension right before a match against the side in first place is less than ideal. Substance is one thing Rino's have not been short on during their current run. They have scored early goals, they have scored late goals, they have come from behind and they have now kept two clean sheets on the spin. There is no question that they should be favourites coming into this match. Inter would, of course, take possibly the most joy of anyone in being the team to ruin Rino's perfect record, and they will surely make a solid go of things, but it is tough to see where their path to victory lies.
Pegasus v Guildford FASA
Not sure what exactly happened to Pegasus last week as it appears they were all over the shop last week during their trip to West Van. After a great start to the season they seemingly turned up at Ambleside ill-prepared and left 90 minutes later with their tails firmly between their legs. They were cited for having an unacceptable roster and they conceded a goal in the first minute, all of which points to a disorganized teams that was not ready to play. West Van then piled on four more goals and Peg had talisman and leading scorer Sahil Sandhu sent off along with a youth player who has scored twice already for them this season. Simply bizarre. Something similar could be said about FASA's performance against Inter as they too were drubbed by a five goal margin, although they at least earned a converted a pair of penalties to get on the score sheet in some type of positive manner. This is the second time FASA have been thumped in a loss this season and that was much more like the scouting report that was out and this group before the season began. That is to say that they had some useful pieces going forward, but were very susceptible to giving up goals at their own end. So now the question becomes, which side can throw their last match in the trash and get on with the task at hand. Given the way that Peg have started the season, and presuming that being at home will lead to them being far more organized, you have to think they are the favourites to bounce back in this one.
Rovers Hurricanes v West Van
What a match this is as the two teams tied for second, two points out of first place, and with undefeated record clash in Surrey on Friday night. This one is by far and away the MOTW. Both these teams have looked great this season, with the exception of one minor blip that is almost impossible to explain. Rovers were up 3-0 and cruising before winless Inter, with only a point to their name at that point, came storming back to draw the match 3-3. West Van, in perhaps more inexplicable circumstances, took the lead over newly promoted Columbus, who at that stage had no points on the season, before being pegged back to 1-1 and then were unable to find any further offense. That still stands as the only point Columbus has so far this year. Regardless, the past is the past. These two sides are focused on the future and the potential of hoisting the VMSL title next spring. Unsurprisingly, West Van are keeping things tidy at the back, having allowed only four goals against through five games this season. What does catch the eye though, is the fact that, notwithstanding the Columbus match, they seem to be finding the oppositions net more regularly during the early parts of this campaign. In fact, they have scored more goals that Rovers so far this year. Both squads are getting their goal scoring by committee as well with West Van having received contributions from nine different players and Hurricanes ten. Rovers will be most excited to finally count Nick Soolsma among their goal scorers as the former TFC man broke his duck for the season in some style with a hat trick in their 4-1 win over Coquitlam last week. This game is a complete toss up, with both sides no doubt fully confident of coming away with the points. Over the past few seasons though, Rovers have been a bogey team for West Van, at least until the back half of last season. After a crushing Opening Day defeat last season, a game in which West Van led 2-0 and 3-2 before losing 4-3, the former Trollers took the reverse fixture 3-2 and then got a huge 4-1 win in the Imperial Cup final. However, Rovers were to have the last laugh when just a week later they turned around and knocked West Van out at the first hurdle in the Provincial Cup. This should be a great game as these two sides seem to bring the best out in each other and there are always goals. Add to it the fact they are both near the top of the league to start this year and you have all the makings of a classic. As I said, this one could go either way, but I do expect there to be a winner in this one. I will tip the home team, but it is fine, fine, margins.
Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves v Burnaby Selects White Eagles
At some point surely someone will pinch Coquitlam and wake them up from this nightmare. Stuck to the bottom of the table with just a single point that they earned in a 0-0 with Chinter on Opening Day, this season is threatening to go off the rails quickly. The warning signs have perhaps been bubbling under the surface for a few seasons now that things were not all sunshine and rainbows for one of the VMSL's most storied franchises. After winning back to back titles in 2016 and 2017, the Tri Cities boys began the 2017/18 campaign without a point from their first six matches. They earned a draw in their seventh before snapping off seven straight wins to launch themselves out of peril, though they failed to make it all the way back into the Provincial Cup places, missing out on that competition for the first time in recent memory, despite a strong, late push. Last season brought a change in management and, while Coquitlam were not immediately the powerhouse that they had been before, they were steady enough and another strong finish to the season saw them comfortably return to Provincial Cup competition. However, that performance may have been somewhat inflated by just how poor three of the sides were in the top flight last season. This year there does not seem to be the same free hits in the league; case in point Metro Ford's opposition this week, newly promoted White Eagles. The Burnaby boys are by no means setting the league alight, but they have certainly settled in and got their feet under them at this level. They are tough out on most weeks, not conceding willingly and are always a threat to score via the current Premier division scoring leader Matlash Vladyslav. Scoring is a major problem for Coquitlam at the minute. Talisman Carlo Basso finally got on the board with a goal in their 4-1 loss to Rovers last week, but, beyond that Juan Sanchez has three goals while two other players have single tallies and that is the sum total of their offense. It is all starting to feel eerily similar to a story that we have seen play out repeatedly over the last decade at the VMSL's top level. Long time teams have gotten older and slowly failed to replenish the cupboards. Think of Westside the first time they went down circa 2012, Richmond Hibs in 2013, Columbus and NorVan around 2014 and the path Surrey United were on before they fled back to the FVSL. Long time clubs that you would think were surely too big to actually get relegated. Clubs that were always able to rely on their veterans to pull it out of the fire before the end. Until one year they could not do it. All of those clubs bounced immediately back after a season in Div. 1, but the long term damage was done and further relegations followed. Now those sides are shadows of their former selves. Is Metro Ford to be the next in this line of "big clubs" to crash out of the top flight? You would still bet on them pulling it together at some point and being well safe before the end, if not in the Provincial Cup picture. However, the question starts to become, how late is too late? There is, of course, still an abundance of time remaining in this season, as mentioned two seasons ago the had no points through six games and just one through seven before finishing seventh. That being said, I do not think White Eagles will have any fear going into Coquitlam this weekend and I would not be at all surprised to see them get a result as well.
Well, well. Not sure too many people had Inter in the "Who will be the first team to beat Rino's?" pool. Neither Rovers nor West Van could take advantage though and wins for Peg and Croatia mean that there are now just three points separating Rino's in first and Peg in fifth. There is then a further five point drop to the rest of the back. It seems then, like we may have a title race with five sides, while the others scrap it out for the sixth Provincial Cup spot, while also trying to ensure they are not dragged into a relegation battle. It all sets up well for the neutrals and we are entering a stretch of games that will see the heavyweights matching up pretty regularly. Should be fun!
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 7
Guildford FASA v Rovers Hurricanes
Not sure what exactly is going on with the schedule at Burnaby Lake this week. FASA seem to have Croatia and Inter's usual Friday night slot instead of their regular Saturday night time while Croatia have moved to Sunday at noon on one of the VMSL's extra permits. Weird. No such issues though about what is going on with Rovers Hurricanes, who are undefeated through six matches and look like they are keen to take a serious stab at getting back the title they surrendered last season. A tight 1-1 draw with fellow title challengers West Van meant that Rovers could not take advantage of current leader Rino's dropping their first points of the season, however, they are surely looking to get straight back into the win column. Target man Nick Soolsma looks like he has found the goal scoring touch again as well after a slow start which should add to an already potent offense. FASA, on the other hand, it seems are slowly becoming the team we thought they would be. They still sit mid-table, but it is a precarious mid-table at best with just six points to their name. The biggest issue is that they are bleeding goals and already have the worst goal against in the division. A potent Rovers offense is unlikely to soothe those pains. Should be fairly straightforward in this one.
Rino's Tigers v Pegasus
This is the first of three fairly stiff tests of Rino's title credentials after they began the season with a perfect 5-0-0 record. After Peg the Vancouver side face Rovers and West Van consecutively. With things so tight at the top there is also no doubt that this is the MOTW (and likely their following games will be as well...). After seeing their perfect start shattered last time out with a somewhat surprising loss to Inter, Rino's will be looking to get right back into the win column. Another loss could see them drop all the way down to a tie for fourth place with challengers Peg pulling level if they can take home all three points. That being said, while the Surrey boys have certainly be taking care of business this season, their other two tilts with the sides above them in the table produced a close loss to rivals Rovers at Newton and then a drubbing by West Van away from home. It would appear that this Pegasus side may not travel well. They will hope to get the newly minted National Champion Yassin Essa back into the side this week, though he may need time to recover from the grueling run he went on with CCB playing five matches in six days. Peg could also due with leading scorer, and former Whitecap, Sahil Sandhu getting hot again. He has not scored in consecutive matches after scoring in four straight. Rino's top scorer, Farivar Torabi, had their lone marker in last week's loss to Chinter and he looks like a potential threat at the top of the scoring charts. Likely whichever sharpshooter is on song Saturday will dictate which way this match goes. However, when you add it all up, I think Rino's are slight favourites.
West Van v Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves
There was finally a win to smile about for Coquitlam last time out and finally some goals for talisman Carlo Basso. Basso now has three in his last two, included a brace in the 5-2 win that vaulted Metro Ford out of the drop zone. It has been a trying start to the year in the Tri Cities, but perhaps that win can help change the mood. Things will hardly get easier this week though as a tough trip to Ambleside is on the cards to face an unbeaten West Van side. There was a time not so long ago when these two teams were clearly the cream of the crop in the VMSL and these matches we potential title deciders. Now both have gone through rebuilds on the fly, but it seems West Van are within shouting distance of a return to that pinnacle. Coquitlam, not just yet though. This one clearly is much more important to the former Trollers given they sit in a log jam at the top of the league, one point out of first but only two points up on fifth. Dropping points to a team from the bottom half is not a recipe for success in a title challenge. Metro Ford would of course love to add another win to their record, but, realistically, they are underdogs here. Coquitlam face three of the prim relegation candidates after this match and that is where they will need to glean their points to ensure that they stay well away from the trapdoor themselves.
Croatia v Club Inter EDC Burnaby
Giant slayers Inter will come into this match feeling as though they can take on anybody the VMSL has to offer after they defeated the theretofore perfect Rino's Tigers 2-1 last week. That win made Chinter "the best of the rest" as they currently sit sixth, five points back of the top five. That is a top five that includes Croatia after they saw off the challenge of last place Columbus last week. Sixth place for Inter would likely mean a return to the Provincial Cup, barring a team from outside the Cup making the Imperial Cup final. Certainly that is likely the goal for the Italio-Chileans this season after they were the seventh place team last season, left on the outside looking in. EDC are surely aware though that defending Provincial Cup and now National Champions CCB are returning to the VMSL with nothing to rest for now and games in hand. Continuing to pick up points will be vitally important for Inter if they want to to keep CCB in their rear-view mirror, however, Croatia need the points just as much. As mentioned, things are so tight at the top that nobody can afford to be the team to blink and throw away points to the teams below. Honestly, this one feels like a draw, but I will say Croatia find that little bit extra to get them over the line and claim all three points.
Burnaby Selects White Eagles v NorVan
After a week off while CCB were away at Nationals, NorVan return to play and find themselves in the relegation zone. Hopefully the North Shore boys spent their week off either working on finishing or looking for someone who know how to do it because three goals in five games is just not going to cut it at this level. Norvan are the only side in the division currently averaging less than a goal a game as even last place Columbus have scored seven in six. Newly promoted Burnaby White Eagles are not struggling for goals, in particular the league's current leading goal scorer, Matlash Vladyslav, has found the ability to score at this level not to be a problem. His eight goals through six matches does, however, account for nearly 80 percent of his team's total offense, so it stands to reason that if teams can shut him down, they can shut White Eagles down. Despite their ability to score, their 5-2 loss to Coquitlam last week has seen them drop into a negative goal difference. They will be hoping to change this in upcoming matches against NorVan and Columbus, the two side currently occupying the relegation places. This games are, of course, doubly important given that six points would give them a massive cushion on the drop zone and leave Columbus and NorVan struggling to find a way to make up those points. This is a definite relegation six-pointer and while NorVan will surely no the importance of the match, it is difficult to see how they win it. White Eagles are all but sure to score at least one goal through Vladyslav and given their offensive struggles, NorVan scoring twice or more appears unlikely.
How come when I bring up Blaise at Rinos paying players it doesn’t get discussed further. This league is so corrupt it’s scary. No FVSL team pays players but 3-4 vmsl premier teams pay players and question the integrity of people I’m question and recreational/amateur soccer in the lower mainland. Then we mock FVSL for being a second tier league. Well no wonder people say that the best players are making 300-750 a game for sides in VMSL. Then we idealize these corrupt guys like they’re gods. Let’s stand up against this, it’s a rule you cannot pay players to play amateur soccer through BC Soccer. If you want to hand out contract and be a big honcho. Try getting an actual professional coaching or managerial job.