Pacific FC’s top brass expect an intense rivalry to develop between the Canadian Premier League’s newest outfit and their nearest neighbour, the Vancouver Whitecaps.
For now, though, PFC President Josh Simpson is putting territorial disputes aside ahead of Wednesday night’s Canadian Championship final between the ‘Caps and Toronto FC.
“I‘m rooting for Vancouver because I grew up there,” Simpson told CanPL.ca. “They have always been my home team.”
Locked at 2-2 following a first leg draw at BC Place, the ‘Caps and Reds meet at BMO Field Wednesday night with a chance to qualify for next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.
Toronto FC is chasing its third consecutive domestic Cup crown while the Whitecaps are looking to secure their second Voyageurs Cup before the tournament expands in a big way.
The Canadian Championship will more than double in size in 2019 with the addition of seven CPL clubs — HFX Wanderers FC, Forge FC, York 9 FC, Valour FC, Cavalry FC, FC Edmonton and Pacific FC.
“It’s hugely exciting,” Simpson told CanPL.ca. “We have a pretty good relationship with the Whitecaps and the banter’s already started. We’re excited to get into those rivalries.”
Pacific FC CEO Rob Friend conjured up memories of winning a domestic Cup during his time with Norwegian Eliteserien side Molde FK, and said he’s hoping PFC will replicate those scenes in time.
“It’s certainly a different energy,” Friend explained CanPL.ca. “You could probably say there’s a different energy in the current landscape of the Canadian Championship — it’s going to be a lot bigger and better next year.
“Everybody loves the underdog story, and is the CPL going to be the underdog? Possibly in the first couple of years, being a fresh league with newly-establish clubs.
“But everybody loves an underdog, and there’s an element of being an underdog and supporting your region or your city — there’s that pride that you’re representing your city.”
PacificFC owners took to the pitchers mound and had the honour of throwing the first pitch at the Victoria @harbourcats game. ⚾️💥 Thank you to the Harbourcats, it was a blast! . . . #PacificFC #Victoria #harbourcats #baseball #battersup @friendrob @joshsimpson.11 @deanshillington Love the Pacific FC swag they’re sporting? Stay tuned… Giveaway contest being announced soon! ⚽️😮😀
Next year’s revised Canadian Championship format could see any number of CPL sides hosting the Montreal Impact, Whitecaps or TFC. In time, the expectation is a CPL club will knock off a more established MLS side.
“I remember playing a fifth division team at FC Kaiserslautern, and those games are hard,” Simpson added. “Those underdog clubs, they show up to play.
“At the end of the day, and what everybody realizes in the FA Cup, the German Pokal, whatever Cup it is, it’s that it’s 11 guys vs. 11 guys. It’s just a game of football. It’s special. It’s something very exciting.
“For Canada to be able to taste a bit of that now is cool. Next year it’ll be a whole other game with the CPL.”
For now, though, PFC’s front office isn’t completely aligned.
“(Toronto FC captain) Michael Bradley is a very good, close friend of mine so if I’m going to choose a team (to support Wednesday night), I’m going to choose one I have close ties with,” Friend said.
“I’m going to root for Michael in the Canadian Championship. Toronto FC is ambitious and set their standards and goals really high, and they invest a lot of resources into this. I’m going to root for my buddy.”
-Follow Kurt Larson on Twitter at @kurtlarsonCPL