LANE UNITED 1
Elyad Shojaei, a fluid attacking-defender, gave Pacific FC something to think about by scoring the first goal of the season for the Victoria Highlanders.
That is not as strange as it seems.
The 19-year-old native of Iran, raised in Vancouver, was a trialist in the pro camp of PFC before being sent down to the amateur Highlanders for further development.
Shojaei’s spectacular goal at 12 minutes, left-footing a low volley inside the far post on a give-and-go, gave the Highlanders the lead. It held until Charlie Spurr levelled at 62 minutes in a 1-1 tie against Lane United of Eugene, Oregon.
It was the United Soccer League 2 season opener for both clubs Friday night at Centennial Stadium.
“My pro dreams are not over, yet. Sometimes, it just takes longer,” Shojaei said of not making the Pacific FC roster in his first stab at professional soccer.
Time, indeed, may be on Shojaei’s side as he was named man of the match to begin a busy weekend. He will also lead the Rino’s Tigers of the Vancouver Metro League into the Province Cup championship game in Nanaimo on Sunday.
Another of Shojaei’s pre-game quotes appear even more prophetic after his heroics in the opener: “Being with the Highlanders is a good opportunity to keep developing and preparing to jump up to pro soccer.”
The Highlanders announced the signings of three players before the game.
Shun Takano from Chiba, Japan, joins the Highlanders after an extended CPL trial with Pacific FC. He was the 2017 Canadian colleges MVP during an outstanding turn with the Vancouver Island University Mariners. Kensho Ando joins as a result of a partnership with Japanese pro club Grulla Morioka of the J3 league. Connor Guilherme from Uxbridge, Ont., comes from the Whitecaps development program.
It is the 11th season in Highlanders’ history.
Victoria continues its 14-game season in the USL 2 Northwest Division with three more consecutive home dates at Centennial Stadium — against Portland Timbers Under-23 on May 19, Seattle Sounders U-23 on May 26 and Lane again on June 2.
The first away fixture for Highlanders is June 7 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby against the TSS Rovers.
The Highlanders’ regular season runs through two games in Calgary against Foothills FC on July 12 and July 14.