Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'VMSL' started by Regs, Aug 28, 2018.
I don't have any but hopefully others do.
Give a few more hours or maybe a day or so...
Completely Baseless Predictions:
Completely Baseless SEASON PREVIEW - Division 1
For those not familiar with my column, I am largely just pulling this stuff out of thin air. I try to find whatever information is readily available online, but, ultimately, I am just trying to generate some interest in local soccer in BC. If I have omitted or overlooked facts that you consider relevant to your team, it's not done intentionally...get over it...
An interesting twist in Division 1 this season as, for the first time, only eight of the twelve teams will be eligible for promotion. Thanks to new call-up rules instituted last season, teams are able to use other squads within the club to call up reserve players and this means that it is more likely for clubs to have "B" teams in Div. 1. Of course, those teams are not eligible for promotion unless their affiliated Premier teams suffers a concurrent relegation and in that boat this season are Metro Ford, Rino's, NorVan and Inter/Chile. It will be interesting to see how that might shape a potential promotion race come February. For now though, let's take a shot at outlining where teams stand heading into the season.
1) Burnaby Metro Athletic FC
Metro enjoyed the first half of last season making up part of a four-headed monster (along with promoted sides NorVan and Guildford, plus third place Columbus) that pulled away from the rest of the league. However, some crucial losses to their promotion rivals, coupled with points dropped to lower table teams during the second half of the season, meant that the Burnaby boys ultimately finished a distant fourth place. Led by former Whitcaps prospect and UBC standout Navid Mashinchi, this team has worked its way up together over the past handful of seasons from Division 3 and are now close to taking that next step to the top tier. Assuming they have learned their lessons about the amount of focus required throughout the entire season, whether playing a top team or one fighting to stay in the league, this is likely this group's best chance at promotion. Only one of the two demoted teams is eligible for an immediate return to the top flight which means at least one new face will be joining the big boys after this year and it would behoove Metro to grab this chance with both hands.
2) Burnaby Selects White Eagles
Perhaps a surprise pick at number two, but the former Serbian White Eagles had a very strong finish to their season going 6-1-2 down the stretch. More impressively though, they boasted the league's second highest goals for, bested only by league champions NorVan Lions. The Burnaby boys tallied 68 goals in 22 game with Vuk Erbez netting 18 of those. Goals win games and, despite this only being their second season back at this level, if they can clean up the defensive lapses that led to them dropping points over the first half of the season, there is no reason to think they won't be in the conversation at the top of the table come February. A return to the top flight would no doubt be a well received achievement among the club's ethnic fan base who have been forced to watch their old nemesis, Croatia SC, thrive while they have been mired as low as Division 2 in recent years.
3) ICSF Columbus FC
It came down to the final day last season, but Columbus missed out on an immediate return to the top flight by a narrow one point margin. The Italians looked to have taken control of the promotion race after they completed the double over Guildford on February 9; but just a few weeks later they threw it all away when they were held to a draw by White Eagles. Guildford just needed to win out and they did so, meaning Columbus will play another season in the small time. Their talisman, the seemingly ageless Steve Deblasio, led the league in scoring with 22 goals in 22 games during the previous campaign. That accounted for over one third of the clubs offensive output however, which would likely indicate that Columbus are going exactly as far as Deblas takes them. With no formal youth feeder affiliation, nor any other open or U21 teams within the club, there is not likely to be a sudden influx of youth into the side. Rumours also persist that pre-season preparations have been less than ideal within the Italian's camp and if they drop points early in the season, those may ultimately prove costly in any promotion race Columbus hope to be in come the New Year. If Deblasio performs at that MVP calibre again this year, they will be in the conversation at the top, but if he is off the pace or suffers an injury, it could be a tough season in East Van.
4) Rino's Fury
An atrocious start to the season had the Fury follow up their debut Division 1 campaign, that saw them finish in third, by spending the early part of the 2017/18 season mired in a relegation battle. They would ultimately rally for a top half finish, but will still likely be out to prove that last seasons 0-0-4 start was an aberration. Assuming that they do not repeat that woeful opening stretch this year, the Vancouver boys should be in a strong position to challenge higher up the table. This group is an experienced bunch at this level, though they are, theoretically, capped here due to the fact that Rino's Tigers play in Premier. That being said, perhaps, should they wind up in a promotion spot at the end of the season, there could be some shady, back room, disassociation deal (we all know the Rino's boys love their collusion). In the meantime they need to focus on making sure they surround leading goal scorer Pablo Zubiria with whatever Premier castoffs that they can convince to stay in order to start the season with a bang.
5) NorVan Storm
The Storm got into Division 1 one way or another last season and, after taking a few weeks to find their legs, asserted themselves well enough at this level. A respectable seventh place finish has established them in the league and now they will look to continue to grow. This is a winning group, having had good success at the Division 2 level as cup champions, one assumes the plan is to, ultimately, continue to grow the team and push higher up the table. Last season's promotion of fellow NorVan side, Lions, means that Storm are trapped in Division 1, but Premier may just prove a bridge too far for their clubmates, which would leave the door open for the Storm in coming years. Not likely to be a top side this year, if they can climb the table and improve over last year it should set them up well going forward.
6) Westside FC
The much rumored deterioration of the club's relationship with UBC varsity saw them limp to a last place finish in Premier along with the relegation that accompanies such a finish. While there are no doubt a few holdovers among the players that loyally fought to the death last season, this has all the hallmarks of a full rebuild. An alarming fall from grace once more for a club that has enjoyed the highest highs of the amateur game, winning four Provincial and two National titles, and seemed to be creeping back in that direction when they reached the Provincial semi-finals just a season before their relegation. Challenging for promotion this season seems like a very stretch goal, barring some sort of miracle recruiting drive. Look for this group to be in mid-table plus or minus a few positions.
7) Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi
The "forgotten" players in Coquitlam have put the VMSL on notice after they walked through both Division 3 and Division 2, picking up a pair of league titles, the Div. 2 Cup and a heartbreaking Provincial B silver medal along the way. The journey for this group of friends has seemingly reached its apex however, given that Metro Ford have a well established team already in the top flight. With organizational changes at the top in Coquitlam, these players, who once found themselves frozen out at the highest level of the club, may suddenly have a path to Premier. Will this group be able to hang on to their top players if the allure of Prem football comes along? I suppose only time will tell. What is more true, however, is that Division 1 has long seen many "all-star" Division 2 sides come in thinking that they can walk this league just the same as the lower levels, only to learn that Division 1 is not for the faint of heart. Their talent and camaraderie should see them safely survive at this level and, maybe, push higher up the table.
8) Bingers Army
Another year, another Division 1 campaign for the Army. Despite a 15+ year run at this level, it all looked to be potentially coming to an end last season. It took a great escape to avoid the trap door to Division 2 as Bingers went 4-1-1, after losing the first game of the New Year to last placed GN North Delta, and finished eight points clear of the drop. Known as the "old men" of the league, the Army has slowly brought new, more youthful faces into the fold. Expect Bingers to once more impact the promotion race, they always seem to take crucial points off at least one of the contenders, and to push for a finish closer to mid-table than relegation. Rumours that UBC may be referring players to the Army's camp rather than Westside, if true, can only further help to bolster their cause.
9) Club Inter EDC Burnaby "B"
The Inter/Chile merger has left this new entity with a team in Premier and a team in Division 1. Given that EDC were relegated and Inter have gone through a restructuring, it stands to reason that the best talent remaining between the two squads will, obviously, be playing in the top flight. What, if any, player pool that leaves for this team is uncertain. Rumours are that is will be comprised of mostly former EDC U21 players and with the new club not entering a team in the U21 division for the upcoming season, their actions would seem to support this rumour. Chile's U21s have been a top side at that level, winning the league two seasons ago and finishing just four points off the top last season. No doubt, however, that Division 1 will be a step up for this group. This team is a wildcard, but, until the "Evil Empire" can prove it belongs at this level, they would do well to just focus on staying in the league.
10) FC Romania
The Romanians rode a strong first half of the season to a place in the top half of the table and a very slight outside shot a promotion. They were also the first team to put a chink in the armour of the, then perfect, league champion NorVan Lions. However, once they were all but confirmed to be out of the promotion race and safe from relegation they checked out and coasted down to an eighth place finish, ending the season with nine straight losses. Romania does not boast significant star power; their leading scorer, Daniel Caraiman, and his 12 goals accounted for more than a quarter of their total offense. Their next highest goal scorer netted only four times, and the list gets smaller from there. It seems most likely that Romania will be either mired in a relegation battle, as they have been before, or follow a similar trajectory of reaching safely and taking their foot off the gas entirely.
11) Vancouver Greencaps
The division's other debutantes, Greencaps will bring their workmanlike approach and Irish influence up with them after a convincing league win in Division 2. Their league form last season was spurred by their somewhat unlikely Provincial B Championship the season prior and it has been a return to happy days for a club that seemed destined to compete at higher levels when they first arrived on the VMSL scene, but then faded from the limelight. Division 1 will be a challenge and the goal for any promoted side is always to survive and then build. While you certainly won't be able to fault the Vancouver boys efforts this season, the big question remains: will they have enough quality to find the goals and, ultimately, the points that they will need for safety?
12) GN Sporting Club
If ever a team seemed destined for relegation is has to be GN. The Surrey boys are rumoured to have lost the majority of their side to a new team taking up residence in the FVSL Premier division and they are also rumoured to have lost their coach to the recruitment drive over at CCB. Sporting have only just barley survived the drop the past two seasons and, if these rumours are true, it is very difficult to see how they are going to be able to dodge the trapdoor this season. Perhaps new management has opened the door to a new talent pool and we will see GN start to climb the table, rather than simply cling to life at this level. On the face of it though, it seems likely that this will be the end of their, I believe, seven year stay in Division 1.
What's happening here?
Les is out. Freddie Valente is now in charge.
The season is nearly upon us! Five games in Division 1 go this weekend with new boys Greencaps having to wait until Wednesday to make their debut. Not entirely sure why, it doesn't appear as though anyone else in the VMSL is occupying Romania's regular Saturday 6pm slot at Memorial (there's a Div. 2 game there at 4pm, but that seems to be it). Regardless, they will have to wait while everybody else begins there 22 week journey to discover who is going up and who is going down. Let's get to it...
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 1:
Inter EDC v Binger's Army
This one is a toss up right off the bat. Inter are such a wild card with this team. Will they be mostly former Chile U21 players? The latest rumour I heard was that they had potentially poached some staff and players from NorVan Storm. It is going to take a few games to get a read on these guys for sure. Bingers on the other hand, will be desperate to avoid another poor start to the season and should be geared up for this one. They mustered draws to begin the season in back to back years, so they are always a tough out in Week 1. Certainly if rumours of UBC recruitment help are true then this squad should be well stocked to begin the campaign. Inter may well prove to be a group of all-stars, but until they prove it I am taking the Army here.
NorVan Storm v Burnaby Metro Athletic
If the above mentioned rumours are true regarding NorVan losing coaches and players to Inter, then that could well be a hammer blow to the organization. It would be doubly damaging if it happened late in pre-season and the remaining squad has not had a chance to recover a gel as a new unit. Not a great time then to be seeing promotion favourites Burnaby Metro on the schedule then. Metro should have learned from their failed promotion bid last season that there are no games off if you are planning to win Division 1 and that an excellent start is crucial. Navid and Co. did manage that good start last season, beginning 8-0-2, though their two losses were to eventual promoted sides NorVan Lions and Guildford, it was their sharp dip in form soon after that which was their undoing. I'll back them to get off to a flyer again this season.
Rino's Fury v Columbus
MOTW here as two teams that figure to be in the top half of the table clash to begin the season. Rino's will need no reminding of the terrible start they had to last season's campaign and it left them in a relegation battle. They will surely be hell bent not to repeat such a calamity this year. Rumours continue to swirl of a Columbus camp in turmoil as murmurs are beginning to surface that Deblasio, Poli, et al. may have finally been tempted to Masters. If these prove true then Columbus might well be out of the promotion race before it begins unless they have a way to replace Deblasio's league leading 22 goals. Interestingly, Deblas is no longer listed under team staff, as he was last year. Another wrinkle is that the Italians have moved their home kickoffs to Friday nights at Burnaby lake to coincide with their Masters team. Perhaps Stevie will be running back and forth between pitches! I suppose we will have an indication soon enough given whether or not he is in the squad for their opener. Assuming both squads are at their best, this one should be a cracker and could go either way. If Columbus is potentially weakened, then obviously the balance tips towards the Fury. I'll get off the fence and pick Rino's to put their nightmare start from a year ago well in their rear view.
Burnaby White Eagles v GN Sporting
White Eagles would be favourites in this one if all things were equal. As it stands though GN are rumoured to be in all sorts of upheaval with players potentially leaving for the FVSL and coaches possibly joining CCB in Premier. The former Serbians were not ones to show mercy last season, often running up the scoreline en route to their league best goals for tally. Ironically, GN were somewhat of a bogie team for White Eagles last season, beating them once in the league and knocking them out of the Imperial Cup. Sporting would go on to forfeit the next round match against Premier side Croatia and, honestly, I am not convinced they are going to show up for this game either. Assuming it does get played though, I make Burnaby massive favourites.
Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi v Westside
It's newly promoted against recently relegated in this one. In a somewhat cruel twist on the leagues part, Westside actually began last season against Metro Ford, only that was of course in Premier. They were 2-0 winners on that day though that was one of few high points from the campaign that would follow. Lupi meanwhile are not exactly used to losing given that they can count the number of time that they have done it over the last two seasons on one hand. They walked through Division 2 last year, but many have taken a similar path before them, only to discover that Division 1 is an entirely new ball game. Westside have no doubt continued to feel the effects of the breakdown in their relationship with UBC and it will be interesting to see what kind of effect this has had on their recruitment over the summer. This should be a good match up and measuring stick for both side to gauge their expectations for the season. I am very tempted to pick a draw in this one, but I will avoid it and tip the former Premier side instead.
Romania v Greencaps
Midweek we will witness the debut of the other newly promoted side, Greencaps. The former Provincial B Champions slogged their way to the top of their pool in Division 2 and now get to taste the new air of Division 1. Once upon a time Romania followed a similar path and there are more similarities that just that among the two sides. Both are physical, hardworking teams and you don't expect to see them played off the park on many occasions. That being said, they do lack somewhat in the skill and flair department which makes you wonder just how potent in front of goal they will be. Romania have found a way to make it work at this level and if Greencaps could have the same staying power I think they would be well chuffed with that. This game looks the definition of a saw off and, add the fact that it is a midweek tilt where statistically there just seem to be more draws, I am all but forced to predict a tie in this one.
No terrible start this yeas Rino’s Fury 4
Wonderful dive in our box by the flying waiter Adriano
Flew in air with our player backing away no contact
Refree was right there told him to get up
Good clean game with some good passing in patches by both teams
I am sure Columbus will improve on this performance
interesting result from gn over serbia
I heard Burnaby had a man sent off, which the discipline report on the Excellent Site would seem to verify; no idea when though or what the score was at the time.
Some questionable refereeing decesions last night but overall decent game.
There were some eye catching results for Div. 1 in Week 1 but, overall, still a lot of unknowns. Hopefully Week 2 can begin to fill in some of the edges around who is going to be spending the majority of the season fighting to go up versus stay up.
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 2
Columbus v NorVan Storm
Not an ideal start for either of these sides, with rumours of preseason turmoil appearing to be true for at least the first week. The good news is, they have had another week to bed in together, so we will see if either side can show improvement. Columbus were well beaten, 4-1, by Rino's without talisman Steve Deblasio in the lineup and it remains to be seen if he will play any role for them at all this season or if he will be full time with their masters group. Without Stevie D, it would seem like goals may be hard to come by for the Italians. NorVan failed to score altogether in their opener, falling 1-0 to Burnaby Metro, but there might have been more for them to take heart from in that narrow loss to a promotion hopeful than Columbus can from getting beat down by Rino's. Both teams will be looking to bounce back and both will fancy their chances against an opponent they likely perceive as in a state of flux. I am worried for Columbus however. Maybe Week 1 was just a blip and they may not have had certain personnel available, but I'll take NorVan to pile on to their misery to start the season.
Greencaps v Binger's Army
Binger's always seem to tie on opening day; I think that is three years running now. Tough to get a read on their performance though, given that Inter/Chile are still a relative unknown. Greencaps had to wait until Wednesday to lift the curtain on their Division 1 existence and, evidently, it would seem that extra time paid off as they had little trouble seeing off a Romania side that it seems may not have been ready for the season to start. On the face of it this looks an even match with to prototypical Div. 1 sides that are physical and, often, direct in their approach. It could go either way. I think there will be a winner here, depending on who can wrestle control of the game away from the other side and dictate which team is spending more time in possession and attacking. That being said I am unsure of which team is more likely to assert themselves, so I will hedge and call it a draw.
GN Sporting v Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi
GN certainly shrugged off their doubters by seeing off a strong Burnaby White Eagles team to begin their season. Though playing with an extra man would have helped, credit to GN for making sure they got all three points. Having been involved in the relegation battle in back to back seasons, the Surrey side will be well aware that the points on the board count just the same at the beginning of the season as they do at the end. Playing a newly promoted side at home this week they will surely see an opportunity to earn some more invaluable points. Metro Ford should not be cast as an average promoted side given their dominance at the lower levels the past two seasons. They played relegated Westside to a 2-2 draw in their first ever Division 1 game and likely had chances to come away with all three points. Using that as a spring board, and knowing that GN have struggled in recent seasons, it seems equally likely that Coquitlam will be targeting this game as a strong chance to earn that first win. Lupi are hungry and want to prove they belong at this level and I think that might just carry them through in this one.
Romania v Burnaby Selects White Eagles
Romania certainly were not at the race when they were thumped 4-1 by new boys Greencaps in midweek. One wonders whether the would have fit in a training session, given that the game was played on a Wednesday, and, if not, can be reasonably expected to be any better prepared for this game. Burnaby will consider themselves the architects of their own demise after have a player sent off in their 3-2 loss to GN, a team they likely would have expected to beat. It is a chance for a reset this weekend against a team that looks like they may need another week or two to get up to speed. I don't expect White Eagles to be in a generous mood, so assuming they can steer clear of further discipline issues, I think they might take out some pent up frustration on Romania this weekend.
Westside v Rino's Fury
MOTW here as it is the classic Westside derby. Fury actually beat Westside last season when they met in the Imperial Cup and, given their opening week beat down of Columbus, they have carried on in that vein. Certainly Rino's look to have regained the form they showed two years ago when they finished in third place, as opposed to their dismal slog through the early part of last season. Westside earned a point in their opener following their relegation to this level, but surely would have been hoping for better against opposition that, at this time last season, were two divisions below them. Adding to the occasion, it would seem that Westside has scheduled all their teams to play Sunday at Hillcrest as part of their 40 Seasons Celebration, so the usually charged atmosphere between these two clubs should be extra spicy. The grass field conditions will probably make this game less about skill and more about strength of will, or just bounces. Should be a fun one with a good crowd and both teams holding nothing back. On the balance of it though, Rino's are coming in hot and I will tip them to stay as such.
Burnaby Metro Athletic v Club Inter EDC
Inter earned a good point for their efforts against Bingers in their first match as a new entity at this level. Despite the performance, they still remain somewhat of an enigma. We should be able to glean a better idea of where they stand after this weekend though, as they play promotion candidates, Burnaby Metro. Likely Metro would have hoped for a more convincing performance last week against NorVan, but a 1-0 ticks all the boxes required in terms of putting points on the board towards promotion. Chinter will have a chance to lay down a marker for the rest of the league with regards to their intentions for this season, based on their result in this match, so it is definitely one worth keeping an eye on. I'll tip the favourites but will be keen to see with what sort of score line this game will end up finishing.
Very questionable. Wouldn't give a yellow for some brutal tackles then was happy to hand them out over some minor comments. Not sure what his gameplan was there, that game couldn't have easily spilled over but luckily fizzled out in the end
Things are very bunched up through the first two weeks of Division 1 play, with only two undefeated teams remaining. If this is an indication of how things are going to play out this season, then it looks like this may be one of the tightest seasons we've seen for some time. Binger's are sticking with their Wednesday night home game routine which necessitates me bumping up these predictions, so even though most of the matches are still the better part of the week away, let's see if we can't suss out if anyone can get some separation at the top.
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 3
Binger's Army v Burnaby Metro Athletic
Not the result the Army would have been hoping for, following an opening week draw, as they were smashed 4-1 by newly promoted Greencaps, though a red card to Aaron De Jong likely was less than helpful with their endeavors in that match. Hopefully the short week they have left themselves, given their mid-week home kickoffs, will prove to be the best way to get back on track. Binger's were one of the teams that Burnaby slipped up against last season during their promotion challenge as the Army took four points off of them. Having started well again this season as one of only a pair of teams with two wins from two matches, Metro will be keen to prove that they have learned from their mistakes. Burnaby have not been lighting the league on fire after a narrow 1-0 win over NorVan and a sloppy 4-2 goal fest against Inter/Chile, but substance is more important that style in Division 1 and Metro know they need to just find a way to put the points on the board. Mid-week games can often be wild cards, but I'll take Burnaby to keep their hot start going in this one.
Club Inter EDC v Columbus
Not sure how much of a traditional "Italian" derby this one will be given that I think it is most of the Latin side of the family, so to speak, that make up the Division 1 presence for "Chinter". It is too bad as well, because Inter/Columbus has thrown up some really heated battles in previous meetings. Regardless of who is in the Inter/EDC side, they will be looking for points in this one after being second best to Burnaby Metro last week. Columbus meanwhile got a much needed bounce back win over NorVan with Alexander Lazazzera, who has now got a pair of goals on the year, seeking to become the heir apparent to finally retired to Masters Steve Deblasio. Neither side appears particularly adept at defending, having given up five and six goals respectively through two games, so I would expect there to be goals in this one. It might come down to which side can get a save at the crucial moment. Columbus will be determined not to fall any further off the pace at the top and, after having bounced back with their first win last weekend, I think that will be able to build on it.
NorVan Storm v Westside
I have talked myself out of picking draws for Westside the past two weeks and they were not able to find a decisive goal against either Lupi or Rino's. It would appear that cutting edge and killer instinct may be an issue for the relegated side, though I suppose the flip side of that might be to say that they are finding ways not to lose. Those sorts of performances likely won't be good enough to see them bounce back up to the top flight, but it should at least ensure they are competitive. That being said, with the other teams in the league also dropping points, if they get themselves sorted out right quick, they could easily be in the conversation come the New Year. NorVan might seem the perfect side to target for points given their slow start as one of two teams with nothing to show for their efforts through the opening weeks of the season, but they have had a difficult schedule. They opened against preseason title favourites Burnaby Metro, before they were handed a date with a Columbus side who narrowly missed out on promotion last season and were ornery after a Week 1 drubbing. NorVan now have a chance to use some early season desperation to their advantage as they look to get away from the relegation race before it really kicks off. Look for a hearty performance from the Storm in this one, though, as mentioned, Westside have proven to be resilient if nothing else thus far. I was remiss not to pick draws in their recent matches, I will take one here.
Rino's Fury v GN Sporting
GN have shrugged off the doubters and roared out to an unbeaten start to the season. Rino's have posted the same record, a win and a draw, so this one sets up nicely. The teams split their two meetings last season with GN winning this fixture early in the year to add to Rino's miserable start and then Rino's winning the reverse tie in Surrey convincingly by a score of 7-1 when GN was involved in the relegation battle. Sporting have shown that they are capable of results during their time in Division 1, it is consistency that has been their problem. A stretch of three unbeaten might just be their best run of form since they got to this level. Given that inconsistency, it will take a bit more proving on GN's part before they can be included with the teams seriously expecting to challenge at the top end of the table. Rino's at home should be favourite here, but it is far from a sure thing.
Burnaby Selects White Eagles v Vancouver Greencaps
MOTW here as the scorching hot Greencaps take their show to Burnaby. So far, the 'Caps are yet to encounter any issues after their promotion to this level, currently sitting atop the table with two wins from two and a league best seven goals to their name. That being said, there are still plenty more teams to face before the Irish lads can start to think, just maybe, that they can be competing in the top half when the calendar flips to January. White Eagles will be a stiff test for the new boys as they bounced back last week with a 3-2 win over Romania after shooting themselves in the foot with a red card in their opener against GN. More importantly their two big goal threats from last season, Vuk Erbez and Matlash Vladyslav have picked up right where they left off last season, both with two goals in two games for the former Serbians. Burnaby's problem has never been scoring goals, but rather keeping them out, which is not great news for them given the goal scoring form Greencaps are in at the moment. Neither side is particular shy to get into a tackle either, so this one sets up as a really entertaining affair. Both teams are certainly in with a chance in this match, but I think the bubble has to burst for the promoted side sooner or later and will tip White Eagles to get all three points from this one.
Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi v Romania
The Romanians have begun the season in the same rut they ended the last campaign in. After securing safety and nibbling around the edges of the promotion campaign, the Europeans sank like a rock down the table. A pair of losses to begin the season means it has now been fully 10 months since they last won a game; November 18, 2017, 2-1 over GN Sporting. That being said, they started last season 0-2 before going 7-1-1, a run that ended with that GN win. It may well be that Romania will flip the switch again and go on a tear, before coasting to the finish line, but it sure seems a perilous gamble. Lupi have got their feet under themselves after their promotion with a pair of draws to begin their season and will be still hungry for that first win to really establish themselves. Sources tell me that the Tri-City boys have had the lead in each of their opening matches, so if they can keep up that level, it is surely only a matter of time until they can see one out for all three points.
There have been some serious surprises through three weeks in Division 1 this year. That be said, it is a long season and many a team has fizzled out before the finish line, while others have caught fire in the second half. In the short term, lets see if any of these early season trends continue this week.
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 4
Columbus v Binger's Army
Laboured would likely be the best way to describe the start to the season for both of these teams. Neither have come out of the traps firing, so to speak, though Columbus to have a win to show for their efforts and have not lost since they were thumped in their opener by Rino's. Binger's only point came via their opening week draw with Inter, who incidentally Columbus also drew this past weekend. Both sides could really use a win to kick their season into gear. Fortunately, other than Burnaby, the rest of the league also seems to be just meandering along this season. The other results this year mean that both these sides are still well capable of dragging themselves into a promotion discussion, but it does stand to reason that, if they are serious, then they should mix in a win sooner rather than later. Thus, this week presents both teams an opportunity, will either side take it? A draw would be the easy pick here, but I will instead tip the home side to continue on their vein of good form.
Westside v Club Inter EDC
Speaking of draws, the draw specialists, Westside, posted another over the weekend when their match away to NorVan ended in a stalemate. Three draws from three leaves the recently relegated side undefeated, but anything from dominant. In theory they are playing the other "relegated" side in this one, but, after the Inter/Chile merger, it does not sound like many, if any at all, of the players in this side were major contributors in Premier last season. Whatever the make up of this hybrid squad is, they too could hardly be considered dominant and are also still seeking their first win. They do, however, have a pair of draws to their name. If this match doesn't scream tie, I don't know what does.
GN Sporting v NorVan Storm
Surprise package GN are undefeated and sitting a cool second place on seven points. Their latest triumph came over Rino's Fury, 3-0, and they will have a chance for further points at home this week against NorVan. The North Shore side earned their first point of the year in a draw with Westside and will be looking to get out of first gear. It was a similar story for NorVan last season, as the then newly promoted side took a few weeks to find their feet before settling in and earning enough points for a mid-table finish. They will be hoping to follow a similar trajectory this campaign, having now got off the mark, GN have started well before before then plummeting down into the relegation race and they will be keen to avoid a repeat of that pattern. I keep underestimated GN and think the shine must be off their promising start to the season, but after a comprehensive result last week I am compelled to go with the hot hand in this one.
Romania v Rino's Fury
A 3-0 loss to GN last week, at home, will no doubt have sent a shock wave through the Rino's camp. It is all the more disappointing considering their decent start to the season, thumping Columbus and earning a hard fought derby draw against Westside. The good news for the Fury is that Romania are likely the perfect tonic for that which ails them. Romania are bottom of the league with no points through three games and are bleeding goals. The Europeans have allowed an absurd 10 goals in three games including being well beaten, 3-0 and 4-1, by both newly promoted sides. The early signs are ominous at best for Romania who are going to need something special in a hurry before this gets beyond their control. They certainly know what they are getting into against Rino's, btoh teams being veterans of the division, but the Fury coming in on the back of that GN loss will most definitely have them in a foul mood. Tough to see Romania getting anything out of this particular game.
Greencaps v Burnaby Metro Athletic
As anticipated, Greencaps were handed a reality check by a strong White Eagles side last week in a 3-0 loss. The full force of the realities of Division 1 will likely be brought to bear against the Irish lads this week when they play promotion favourites, Metro. The Burnaby boys are the only team in the league still with a perfect record and they have clearly learned from their shortcomings a season ago when they failed to earn promotion. Their hot start has cemented their place as favourites for the title and promotion this year, but they will know that they cannot take their foot off the gas. With the rest of the league almost appearing disinterested in promotion, Burnaby have a chance to put some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the table. In order to do that, three points against a newly promoted side are a must.
Burnaby Select White Eagles v Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi
Rounding things out this week is the MOTW between White Eagles and Lupi. Burnaby have left their opening day blunders in a loss to GN in the trash and got on with their business. They have won two on the bounce and their eight goals on the season is good enough to be joint best in the league through three weeks. Matlash Vladyslav and Vuk Erbez are both hitting their scoring stride with three and two goals each, so all systems are now go for the former Serbians. Lupi have found life in Division 1 rather amenable after their promotion as they are undefeated after three games and picked up their first win at this level last time out with a solid 3-0 win over Romania. Two in form teams are set to clash in this one and it sets up as a great game in prospect. White Eagles have the experience and, it goes without saying, the fire power to be favourites in this game. However, they also possess the "X" factor of their wayward disciplinary record. Coquitlam certainly won't be shy coming into this match and if Burnaby give them an opening, say via an early red card, expect the Tri-Cities side to take full advantage. This one could certainly go either way, but I'll tip the experience of the White Eagles, assuming that they don't do anything rash!
One month of the season already gone and Division 1 looks like a total clusterfcuk. Either everybody is so strong this year and there are so many promotion contenders that they are all taking points off of each other weekly or the level is, in fact, rather average and really no one truly belongs at a higher level. I am inclined to lean towards the latter, but perhaps this week a team will emerge and begin a triumphant charge to the top of the league. Only five games though over the long weekend as it looks like NorVan were ousted from their home field and have opted to make up their game with Romania midweek at the end of the month.
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 5
Binger's Army v Westside
Well Westside broke their streak of draws this past weekend, finally earning a win with a 2-0 result over Inter/EDC. Binger's ended a streak of their own, earning their second draw of the year, this time away to Columbus, and halting a two game losing skid. Binger's might let the occasional team off easy every once in awhile if their veteran core are perhaps injured or have other life commitments, but you can be 100% sure that Westside would never be one of those teams where the Army are at anything less than their best. These rivals go back many years with players having ties to both clubs and even murmurs of talks regarding mergers surfacing in the background over the years. On the field these sides know each other well and there will be no love lost. What might get lost are the goals, with neither side proving to be particularly prolific at putting the ball in the next so far this campaign. While Westside finally tasted victory last time out and will want to kick on from that, they certainly have a propensity for draws and the Army are never shy when it comes to splitting the points either. Plus its a midweek game and those, statistically speaking, tend to lend themselves to a ties. With neither side in rich goal scoring form, look for a 0-0 or 1-1 in this one.
Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi v Vancouver Greencaps
The promoted sides clash in the MOTW and both are acquitting themselves admirably at this level so far, as it is an early season battle of third against fourth. Lupi still have only lost four or five games in their entire existence since being founded ahead of the 2016/17 season in Division 3. They added another win to go with the one they already have to their name and their pair of draws when they beat White Eagles 3-2 last week in what is likely their best performance to date. Greencaps may have done them one better last time out though, knocking off the then 3-0-0 Burnaby Metro who were perched comfortably atop the table as they looked to continue their charge towards promotion. It was a statement performance for the Irishmen, who were coming off their first loss of the year when they were well beaten by White Eagles, though a Burnaby Metro red card may have played a role in giving the 'Caps the edge in a close 2-1 win. That being said these two sides are full value for their place in the table up to this point and they will be looking to crack on. Their only previous meeting came in last season's Division 2 Cup final which finished 0-0 and was won by Lupi on penalties. Tough to say the sides know each other well, but they will likely become much more closely acquainted after this weekend. Coquitlam have moved off their regular Sunday home time, presumably to field a stronger roster given the Thanksgiving weekend, but perhaps it will throw them out of their rhythm. Tough to pick this one, but I will tip Lupi based on the fact that losing is so damn foreign to them and that they just edged a White Eagles team that had little problem against Greencaps the week before.
Club Inter EDC v GN Sporting
Well I don't think anybody, even those within the GN camp, can say that they saw this coming and keep a straight face. Here we are, with the calendar page turning to October, and the Surrey boys sit alone atop the table. Used to relegation battles, it would appear instead that, at least in the short term, it is a promotion battle with which GN will need to grapple. Given their history, it does feel like we are just waiting for the air to come out of this one, but, looking at their schedule, it might not be anytime soon. Sporting play Chinter this week, who are still looking for their first win of the year, so the first placed side are clearly favourite in this one. Although, the 8pm Saturday kick off at Point Grey really does neither side any favours, Inter having been displaced from their usual home field at Burnaby Lake. Who knows, maybe this will be the week when the wheels come off for GN, but for right now, they are the team to beat.
Burnaby Metro Athletic v Columbus
Speaking of teams being displaced form Burnaby Lake, Metro have had their home game moved to the ungodly time of 10am on Sunday morning at Trillium. The promotion favourites hit a speed bump that they are unfortunately all too familiar with in losing Greencaps last week. Metro surely would have been targeting the newly promoted side as a great chance at three points and a shot to keep their perfect record going. Instead, the loss bounced them off the top of the league and dragged them into the quagmire of chasing teams. Unlike last season, Columbus, at the moment, are not one of those chasing teams. The Italians have sputtered out of the gate and have now posted back to back draws. Given the logjam at the top of the table though, a win this week could very well vault them right back into the conversation. The question though is, are Columbus catching Burnaby at an opportune downturn in form? Or will Metro attack like a wounded animal as they look to reestablish their hold on this division. Tough to say, but I will bet on Burnaby bouncing back. These two side had a pair of epic encounters last season and Burnaby emerged with a win and a draw. Given their results to date, I am not convinced that Columbus are even at that level right now.
Rino's Fury v Burnaby Selects White Eagles
Not displaced at all are Rino's who are ready to welcome White Eagles to their regular home at Point Grey on Sunday. Rino's took their layup at Romania last week, winning 7-1, after being upturned by surprise league leaders, GN Sporting, the week previous. Ryan Arthur used that goal-fest to vault himself to the top of the scoring charts; the Rino's man now has four in four games. White Eagles will be looking to take a page out of Rino's book as they look for their own bounce back following their inability to do the double over the promoted sides. They polished off Greencaps two weeks ago, but fell victim to their promotion cousins Coquitlam this past week, losing 3-2. Already this season seems to be following a similar pattern as last year for the once Serbians, with the Burnaby boys showing great offensive prowess but being undone by poor defending. Both their goals for and their goals against numbers are among the higher half of the league. As is often the case when is comes to games involving White Eagles, this one could go either way, but expect goals. Rino's likely still have their shooting boots on after that performance against Romania last week, so if Burnaby are porous at the back I am sure the Vancouver side will take advantage. Take the home side here in what could be a case of last goal wins.
Low scores and parity were the theme last week as we once more have new leaders atop the Division 1 table. The theme of no team really staking a claim to this league continues as 10 of 12 teams are within six points of each other. Ironically, Metro Ford, who currently top the table, are unable to be promoted, so that adds yet another layer to things. Who will bank three points this week? Let's find out.
Completely Baseless Predictions - Week 6
Westside FC v Burnaby Metro Athletic
After more points dropped by Burnaby last time out in a 1-1 draw with Columbus, their strong start to the season has been all but erased. It is beginning to look more and more like, rather than being runaway favourites for the league title, they will be forced to scrap it out with the rest of the teams looking to go up. Certainly they are still a top contender given their pedigree, but their place as automatic promotion favourites has to be in question. For Westside it was another case of one step forward one step back, losing 1-0 to Bingers. After three straight draws to open the season they managed to double their points for the season with one win over Inter, so perhaps they are now taking the next two games off. Clearly they are not the same team who earned their way to the Provincial Cup semi finals before relegation last year which makes them somewhat tough to predict. Looks like they, along with everybody else will need a few more weeks to establish the hierarchy of the teams in this division. Coming into the season you would have had this circled as a major promotion battle, but instead it is just some mid-table clash. Burnaby are likely in the better form overall though and know they need to have this game after being handed a freebie when the teams around them at the top of the table also dropped points last week.
Greencaps v Columbus
Like most of the teams so far, Greencaps have been unable to establish any real run of form. Fortunately for them an immediate return to Division 2 already looks unlikely, so it is almost all just gravy at this point. Perhaps that will allow them to play freely and continue to surprise teams. Despite their being in the upper reaches of the division to this point, I think even they will concede that promotion is likely beyond them, but certainly that is no reason from them to throttle things back. Columbus on the other hand would have been expecting to contend for promotion and their early form will have been cause for some anxiety in the Italian's camp. Fortunately the league has been rather indifferent and Columbus find themselves on five points off of the top spot. This weekend really needs to be a turning point for them to kick on, but Greencaps are certainly no soft touch. If Columbus come out desperate and fighting, there is every chance they will be able to take all the points, but if they let the Irish lads into the game then there is a good chance they will be leaving empty handed. Could go either way; I'll call it a draw.
GN Sporting v Binger's Army
So much for the bubble not bursting. GN slumped to a surprise 2-1 loss to Inter last week, providing the newly formed team with their first win of the season. After rising to the top of the table the Surrey side showed no staying power, now begging the question of were they for real or was it just lightning in a bottle? Binger's too notched their first W last time out with a 1-0 over Westside. Nothing flashy about the Army, as per usual, but they definitely seem like avoiding a repeat of the last gasp relegation escape that they had to go through last season. This would seem like a solid bounce back opportunity for GN against a team near the bottom, but based on their history in previous seasons, I think GN are due for a bit of a slump. Look for another narrow Army win in this one.
Romania v Club Inter EDC
While nobody seems to want to go up this season, Romania appear to have decided to go down. It has been an unmitigated disaster of a season so far with no points and 17 goals against through four games. Inter too were struggling without a win this year until they knocked off first placed GN last weekend, so the bottom team should be a welcome follow up. Perhaps a weekend off (Romania had their game with NorVan postponed) will have allowed the Europeans to hit the reset button on the season, but, regardless, it is time to start picking up some points. A win here gets them within two points of safety, but a loss would leave them five points back at best. Even this early in the season that is a dangerous amount of distance to be leaving yourself to make up, especially when you dont know where your next points will be coming from. This is as close to a must win game as you can have in October for Romania, but EDC have to be strong favourites just based on the form of the two sides.
Burnaby Selects White Eagles v NorVan Storm
Not the start to the year NorVan would have been hoping for as they have just a single point to show for their efforts through four matches. It appears pre-season rumours of organizational changes have proved to be accurate and have evidently yet to take hold the way the North Shore side would have desired. White Eagles were back to winning ways last week as they edged Rino's Fury, but they are on the same roller coaster as the rest of the league in looking for some consistency. NorVan presents an opportunity for the for Serbians to try and win back to back for the first time this season. Depending on how the rest of the results go that could even take them to the top of the table! NorVan have hardly been outclassed to begin the year, but they are struggling to score. That is not a great recipe for success against a White Eagles side with a potentially explosive offense. You've got to think that if this one comes down to who can find that crucial goal, it is most likely to be the Burnaby boys.
Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi v Rino's Fury
The MOTW is getting harder and harder to determine given that nobody this year seems to be able to perform on any type of consistent level. The exception there would be Metro Ford as Lupi are the only unbeaten side left in the division and that form has carried them to the top of the league. The cruel irony of course being that Coquitlam cannot earn promotion unless the club's premier side were to be relegated simultaneously. It has been a meteoric rise for the team that began because they were frozen out at the top level in the Tri-Cities and their play over the last two plus season perhaps justifies their frustration. Two losses last season, one of which was the Provincial B Final, and only three the season prior when they were promoted from Division 3 gives these guys the right to demand some respect. Rino's have long bean a mainstay at this level, though the Fury were in Division 2 at one point, and they will present a challenge to Lupi given their experience at this level. Like most teams, other than Coquitlam, the Vancouver boys have had an up and down start to the season. A win this week would vault them back towards the upper reaches of the table though, like their hosts, they too cannot earn promotion. So really, is their anything to play for in this match? Regardless, both teams will want the points and the league can sort the headache out later when they finish first and second... I'll tip Coquitlam given that they have not lost yet to keep it going here.
Early predictions for promotion? I'm taking the 2 Burnaby squads.
Honestly, can I pick nobody? If anything is clear from the way this Division 1 season has unfolded to this point, I don't think any of these teams have what it takes to compete in Prem.
I opted for the two Burnaby teams as well pre-season, but I have been less than impressed with Metro over the last few weeks, as they have now gone three without a win. White Eagles have been more or less the team that I expected them to be and I thought that would put them in a position to compete for promotion. I have to think they are who I have for the number one spot at the minute.
GN deserve some credit as they have put the points on the board. The difficulty with them is their history of completely collapsing at some point in the season. Perhaps this season they really are for real, but it is hard to get behind that theory at the minute. Coquitlam would obviously be a major contender, but cannot be promoted. Rino's, Inter and NorVan cannot go up either, but are not exactly off to promotion contending starts anyway. Greencaps have started well, but I cannot see them really mounting a promotion push. Romania are of course out of it entirely and Bingers are Bingers.
That just leaves former Premier sides Westside and Columbus. Neither have looked sharp to start the year, but given how compact the league is, a couple of good results on the bounce could have them right back in the thick of things.
So I would say White Eagles, followed by Metro still, but with the caveat that GN, Westside and Columbus not be totally discounted. It might come down to if any of those sides can get a bump once the college season concludes.