PFC versus VFC.
It is the opening game that just had to be.
Pacific FC will open the 2023 Canadian Premier League soccer season on April 14 at Starlight Stadium by inaugurating the cross-strait rivalry against expansion club Vancouver FC.
The CPL announced the opening games for the eight teams on Friday with the remainder of the schedule to be unveiled Monday.
“Derbies last generations, and they start somewhere, and get bigger and bigger,” said Paul Beirne, PFC managing director.
“Victoria versus Vancouver is ideal. We can’t wait and are up for it.”
It’s the normal Vancouver big-brother, Victoria little-brother cultural and economic plotline between the two cities turned on its head. It’s PFC, a charter member of the CPL entering its fifth season, which is the elder sibling in this story.
“The pressure is on us to win these four matches on the season because they [Vancouver FC] are starting from scratch,” said Pacific FC vice-president of operations Brad Norris-Jones.
“It used to be that Cavalry FC [of Calgary] was our biggest rival because of proximity, but this is our main rivalry now, and we get to open at home with the first-ever game of the derby. It’s exciting.”
It will certainly be a big night for three-season PFC goalkeeper Callum Irving, who bolted the Tridents in the off-season to join his hometown VFC.
“It’s huge for Canadian soccer to have these games between teams that are in close proximity to one another,” Irving told Mitchell Tierney of CPL.com.
“It [makes] fan travel much easier so you can have great away sections supporting the teams. It’s a sense of pride on the line. You see it throughout world football. There’s just something a little bit more special about those matches.”
In other CPL openers, 2022 league-finalist Atletico Ottawa hosts the HFX Wanderers of Halifax at TD Place Stadium, and defending-champion Forge FC of Hamilton hosts Cavalry FC at Tim Hortons Field, both on April 15. Valour FC of Winnipeg visits the Greater Toronto Area to play York United on April 16 to conclude the opening weekend.