He’s done the math, again and again, and pro soccer coach Afshin Ghotbi is convinced his team can still earn a spot in the playoffs.
It can still happen if Vancouver Football Club (VFC) can once again defeat Forge FC during its Labour Day weekend match on home pitch Sunday afternoon.
“We are trying to stay alive,” Ghotbi said. “Mathematically, we are still alive. We hope to keep ourselves alive as long as possible in this competition. Obviously, we felt we did enough in the last game to get all three points, and it was very disappointing for us how that game turned out.”
He referred to VFC’s last game on Aug. 25, when their chances slipped a little further as they fell 2-1 to York United during an away game.
Despite that loss, he said his players have shown “incredible resilience this whole season, and I think we’ve regrouped, and we’re very excited about meeting Forge at home again, and hope to perform at our highest level to produce a good spectacle and also to try to get ourselves three points to get us in one of the 20-point slots.”
When the local fledgling soccer team first took to the pitch in Hamilton back in May, during its early incarnation, the two teams tied 0-0. Then, when they met again, VFC registered its first home victory. That was the last time Hamilton visited Langley, and that June 20 match ended 2-0 in Vancouver’s favour. But Forge returned the favour last time they met at Tim Hortons Field in Ontario on July 28, Forge taking that game 2-0.
With only seven games left this season, Ghotbi remains optimistic his players can pull out a hometown win during this weekend’s match. They faceoff against Forge at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3 at Willoughby Stadium, next to Langley Events Centre.
“We’re hoping to grow with each game,” Ghotbi said, and while he’s still optimistic about a playoff berth, he also anxious to celebrate any teams successes on Sunday and in the other remaining games of the year that will help build up the team for future.
“We want to set the foundation for next season, we are already trying to build our team for next season, and we feel we’ve had a good head start to where we were last year – where we didn’t exist – so we’re quite excited about this last round,” he said.
Vancouver FC hosts Forge FC for the final time in its inaugural season, then VFC goes up against each of the other team in the Canadian Premier League one last time between now and Oct. 6.
“I’m proud of this group,” Ghotbi said, noting all they’ve overcome to bring them to where they are today.
“In my 40 years in this game and all of the experiences I’ve had, this has been one of the most difficult challenges that I’ve had to deal with…” Ghotbi said, noting many of VFC players started the season never having played pro ball before, plus in their initial months of play they faced challenges they couldn’t control, including injuries and game suspension that forced players to step into unfamiliar position.
For all they’ve overcome, and all they’ve learned and built on as a group, he commented members of VFC for the progress they’ve made so far, and shared his optimism for what lies ahead.
For West Coast fans who can’t catch the match in person, it can be viewed on a dedicated soccer channel called OneSoccer.