Pacific FC will play its first home game in front of fans in close to two years, when Cavalry FC visits Starlight Stadium in Langford Friday.
And Pacific FC will be looking to continue its good form after a successful run at the 2021 Canadian Premier League Kickoff in Winnipeg – the league’s westernmost side currently sits in second place on goal difference.
Big names, big performances
The stars on this Pacific team have stepped up to the plate this year. Many fans were already familiar with the exploits of Marcos Bustos, but his brilliance has been reinforced by the big signings that were brought in during the winter transfer window. Currently, Bustos is sitting second in the league scoring table with three goals, which matches him with teammates Josh Heard and Alejandro Diaz. The latter’s hat-trick against Atlético Ottawa certainly was one for the record books, being the first one in team history and only the second hat-trick in the entire league.
Irishman Olli Bassett has also been sublime since his arrival, laying on two assists in his first eight games with Pacific. His passing puts him second on the league leaders, right behind Bustos’ three assists. He has been a revelation this season, slotting into a deep midfield role in Pah-Modou Kah’s system and absolutely thriving there.
Callum Irving displayed fine form in the kickoff bubble, holding four clean sheets and trailing only Valour’s Jonathan Sirois’ six. This is also a testament to the solid back line of Pacific, which has only conceded more than two goals once so far. Of course, with so much youth in the lineup, one can certainly be optimistic about how this team performs as they gel together throughout the year.
A team effort
It is not only individual success that has spurred on Pacific to their hot start, but they have come together as a team to power through their opposition. The offense clicked right from the start, and the Tridents lead the league with 13 goals scored. They have only been held off the scoresheet twice so far, and that’s a trend the team looks to continue as the CPL returns to a more normal schedule for the rest of the season.
It wasn’t just the goal scoring that has been excellent. The men in purple and teal have also done an excellent job in their passing and possession numbers throughout their matches. They currently lead the league in pass completion percentage, and in all eight games they’ve had the possession advantage. Of course these numbers do not guarantee a winning side, but they go a long way towards helping Pacific to victory.
Still room for improvement
A second place side like Pacific doesn’t have much to pick apart, but there are definite shortcomings the team will be looking to address. While they have only conceded more than two goals in one match, they are currently third last in total goals conceded with nine. The high flying offense has mitigated some of this, but Pacific can only outscore their issues defensively for so long.
The club could also be more clinical in front of goal. Looking at the first match against Atlético, Pacific were dominant for stretches. They controlled possession and created chance after chance, but they could not put one into the net. They eventually managed to find the goal to earn the win, but this has emerged as a pattern with the Tridents.
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As previously mentioned, controlling possession and completing passes will go a long way to helping a team win, but it will not guarantee success. Pacific FC need to be able to put away the chances they create if they are to continue their early run of good form.
Complacency is the enemy
It is important to not let complacency settle in as they return to Starlight Stadium. Pacific has dropped points in games they should have won – chief among them the first match against York United FC. Leading into the final 10 minutes, the Tridents conceded the equalizer against a mid-table side.
In a league where every opponent should be respected, this obviously happens. But for Pacific to truly mount a title challenge this year they need to be scooping up as many points as they possibly can. Draws against second last HFX Wanderers might eventually be looked back on with regret as they reach the end of the year.
Consistency key for Pacific FC
Finally, the key to being champions is consistency throughout the season. The purple and teal brigade have done well, but there have been moments where the team has looked questionable. In their losses to Forge FC, Pacific looked nothing like the quality they have shown in matches past. Yes, Forge are the two-time reigning CPL champions, but if the Tridents want to be the best, they have to beat the best. Going 2-1 down against last place Atlético does not instil confidence, even if they managed to fight back in the end.
Pacific needs to come out strong and finish strong instead of lapsing and giving their opposition the initiative. If they are to win the CPL league title, Pacific needs to have the quality of champions and play each match like title contenders, winning the matches they should be winning and playing hard against tougher opposition. Especially if they eventually qualify for continental competition, the Tridents need to establish a consistent foundation that they can build upon.