2024 Season Preview: Vancouver FC

The 2024 Canadian Premier League season kicks off the weekend of April 13, when all eight clubs will begin their quest to hoist the CPL Shield and vie for the North Star Cup.
Here at, we’re celebrating the start of April by previewing each individual club ahead of 2024. To check out all eight team previews, click here. To see all of our season preview coverage ahead of the sixth year of the CPL, click here.

Excitement is building on the Lower Mainland for Vancouver FC’s sophomore season, after the club captured hearts both locally and across the country in 2023 with plenty of standout stories and memorable moments in their first year in the Canadian Premier League.

The Eagles have made key changes to the squad for year two, with last year’s core now complemented by more depth and competition for minutes, largely from locally-raised talent coming home to represent Vancouver.

Afshin Ghotbi’s side made a strong first impression in its maiden voyage and proved it could go toe-to-toe with anybody in the CPL right off the bat; now, the challenge will be raising the bar and establishing the team’s playing identity now that the lustre of an expansion season has begun to wear off.

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READ MORE: 6 questions ahead of Vancouver FC’s 2024 CPL season


  • 2023 CPL regular season record (W-D-L): 8-5-15 (29 pts, 7th place)
  • Goals scored: 28
  • Goals against: 50
  • Goal difference: -22
  • Top scorers: Gabriel Bitar, Shaan Hundal (6)
  • Canadian Championship: Lost in preliminary round to York United FC

It was difficult to gauge how exactly Vancouver’s squad would come together in the early stages of the club’s inaugural season, so expectations were tempered heading into 2023. The team showed well in its first-ever match against B.C. rivals Pacific FC but lost 1-0 on a late goal, and they won their first game in just the second regular season match of the year, 2-1 at York United. They also scraped a hard-fought draw in their first ever home match against Cavalry FC, but it wasn’t all rosy for the Eagles.

An eight-game winless streak from late April to mid-June left Vancouver pretty firmly outside the playoff picture, but they ended the year strong with four wins in their last six, causing chaos in the playoff picture by beating Atlético Ottawa, Halifax and Pacific in that stretch.

The Vancouver roster went through some heavy upheaval throughout the year; only 10 of the matchday 18 from their first game in April ended up playing over 1,000 minutes in 2023, with five of their starting XI for the final game (Alejandro Díaz, Mikaël Cantave, Renan García, Vasco Fry and James Cameron) not even signed to the club when the season kicked off.

In the end, Vancouver were able to edge past Valour to avoid the basement of the standings, which was a late-season incentive for the side, but they’ll have far higher ambitions to begin 2024.


Players in:

Players out:

GK – Niko Giantsopoulos GK – Jeremy Zielinski
DF – Elage Bah DF – Ibrahim Bakare
DF – Matteo Campagna DF – Min-jae Kwak
DF – Paris Gee DF – Lennon Thompson
DF – David Norman MF – Nicky Gyimah
MF – Kembo Kibato MF – Ivan Mejia
MF – Grady McDonnell MF – Nima Moazeni Zadeh
FW – Moses Dyer FW – Shaan Hundal
FW – Ben Fisk FW – Mamadou Kane
FW – José Navarro FW – Ameer Kinani
FW – Zachary Verhoven FW – Nathaniel St. Louis

Gone are a lot of the players who struggled to break into Afshin Ghotbi’s team in 2023, with their spots on the roster replaced largely by players with local roots and CPL experience.

Only two of the departing players made more than 15 starts for Vancouver FC, those being defender Ibrahim Bakare and striker Shaan Hundal. The latter will be a significant miss after his intra-CPL move to Valour, having scored six goals — including the first in club history — for the Eagles last year, but they’ll feel they’ve got the firepower to replace him.

Four new attack-minded players have come to the squad, including Vancouver natives Ben Fisk and Zach Verhoven from Cavalry FC and Atlético Ottawa, respectively. Moses Dyer returns to the CPL after a year away, having played two seasons for Valour previously; his 19 career CPL goals should come in handy.

Meanwhile at the back, York United’s former Swiss Army Knife defender Paris Gee will provide experience and versatility, while David Norman brings trophy-winning pedigree back to the CPL after a successful year overseas in the UK and Ireland.


Vancouver FC vs Cavalry FC BChevalier

Afshin Ghotbi is entering his second year as a Canadian Premier League manager, but he has arguably the most coaching experience from the world of football of any gaffer in Canada. He’s been on the touchline at World Cups as an assistant coach for the United States and South Korea (including when they went to a semifinal on home soil in 2002). He managed Iranian giants Persepolis to a league title in 2008, and he was head coach of his native Iran from 2009 to 2011.

Over the course of his illustrious coaching career, the 60-year-old Ghotbi has worked in nine different countries, seeing the game at pretty much every possible level.

He joined the expansion project in Vancouver looking to help foster the growth of football in Canada and particularly in B.C., and he has put significant effort into incorporating young local talent in his team. He has often preached the importance of playing entertaining football with an eye on scoring goals, so look for more of that in 2024 as he continues building his VFC team’s identity.


(4-4-2): Callum Irving; Paris Gee, David Norman, Rocco Romeo, James Cameron; Gabriel Bitar, Kadin Chung, Elliot Simmons, Mikaël Cantave; Alejandro Díaz, Moses Dyer

Vancouver FC Projected XI for 2024

This potential lineup has a lot of local flavour, with nine players developed in Canada and five born in the Vancouver area. Returning from Vancouver’s first-ever starting XI are Irving, Romeo, Bitar, Chung and Simmons. That said, two more members of the attack, Cantave and Díaz, joined the club midway through last season, so they have experience with the group as well (although Díaz’s loan from Norwegian club Sogndal expires in the summer; it’s not yet clear if he’ll stay in Vancouver beyond then).

Kadin Chung’s role will be something to keep an eye on early in the season. Early in 2023, Ghotbi surprised many by choosing to put Chung, a natural right-back, into central midfield. Unfortunately, Chung broke his collarbone early in the campaign, and once he came back he exclusively played at his more comfortable fullback position to give him a better chance to get back up to speed, but it’ll be interesting to see if Ghotbi returns to that experiment with Chung healthy to begin 2024.

There’s also a lot to like about a strike pairing of Díaz and Dyer; the two international forwards have 46 CPL goals between them, so both players have a wealth of experience putting the ball in the net in this league. The Eagles scored the second-fewest goals in the league last season, so playing two consistent finishers together might help boost their attack.


Domestic U-21


Loaned In

Elage Bah Alejandro Díaz Alejandro Díaz (from Sogndal)
James Cameron Moses Dyer
Tyler Crawford Renan García
Grady McDonnell José Navarro
TJ Tahid
Anthony White
Matteo Campagna