An off-season of turmoil is finally settling out with one definite conclusion: the Surrey Derby clashes between Surrey United Firefighters and ICST Pegasus just got a whole lot more interesting.
The two Vancouver Metro Soccer League premier division powers will both have new coaches this season. Stephen Burns takes over the reins of defending league champions Pegasus, who parted ways with Rob Reed over the summer break. Meanwhile in Cloverdale, United will represent British Columbia at nationals next month, a tournament that will be the last the team plays under coach Niall Thompson, who is stepping down to spend time coaching his kids. After nationals on the Thanksgiving weekend, United will welcome a new coach - Rob Reed.
"It'll certainly be a little bit different but I'm looking forward to it," Reed said. "I have a little bit of a buffer because I'm not starting until after Thanksgiving. Starting in September would have been more challenging but this way I'll be able to ease my way into it. Obviously I'm going to try and get out to some games that Surrey is playing and hopefully a few practices. It'll be just as an observer; I don't want to be a distraction."
Under Reed, ICST Pegasus rose to become one of the VMSL premier league's most successful teams over the past two years. The Horsemen won one Provincial Cup (2011), one premier championship (2012) plus finished second in the national championships and lost one Imperial Cup final.
With that resumé, it's understandable that Reed was surprised when the team gave him the axe in July.
"I understand that every coach, even at this level, has an expiration date but this (firing) was a bit perplexing to me because of the amount of success we had," Reed said. "We had a great group of players and we achieved a lot of success but I was disappointed with the fashion in which it ended.
"I have nothing bad to say about the players and I wish them the very best in the future but I'm not looking back. I'm looking forward and I'm excited about this new opportunity with Surrey."
Reed has definitely landed on his feet in Cloverdale where he joins a Firefighters team that stuffed its trophy case during four years under Thompson. Depending on results from his swansong at nationals, Thompson will bow out with two Imperial Cups, two premier titles, one Carling Cup and one Provincial Cup title to his credit.
"I've had an excellent run coaching Surrey for four years and I had a great time, but at this point, my family is the most important thing," Thompson said. "I'm going to really miss it and I'm already having a hard time with it. Taking these guys to nationals will be a great highlight and a great sendoff and hopefully we can bring home the national title."
In other off-the-pitch developments, a total of three teams will be calling Surrey home for the upcoming premier season. Rovers CCBTU, who head south over the Pattullo Bridge from their former New West home, will join the Firefighters and Pegasus in Surrey. The Rovers are the new roommates for Pegasus, with both clubs calling Newton Athletic Park home.