Pacific FC flying high at the Halfway Mark of 2021 CPL season

Heading into the halfway point of this 2021 Canadian Premier League season, Pacific FC have been on a roll, sitting 1st in the table. In this, we take a look at what’s been working so well for them so far this season.

With the Canadian Premier League just ticking past the halfway point, it’s about time that we took a look at Pacific FC’s exploits thus far.

Like the ocean from which they draw their name, the men in purple and teal have been an absolute force. 

In this article, I’ll be taking a look at how the season’s gone so far, what’s coming up next for Pacific, and some things to keep an eye out for as we head into the home stretch before the CPL playoffs.

Riding the Wave 

In each of the three seasons of the CPL so far, Pacific FC has trended upwards. A fifth-place finish in their inaugural season was followed by a strong fourth-place finish in the 2020 Island Games. 

This season though, they took it up to another level. Buoyed by additional depth and marquee signings, Pacific started off 2021 with a bang and have not looked back, surging to sit atop the league table. 

It all started with their first win over HFX Wanderers FC, in the July Kickoff bubble. With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the league gathered all the teams in Winnipeg for the start of the season. This way, they could reduce the travel distance between the teams. 

With new signings such as Manny Aparicio, Ollie Bassett, and Matteo Polisi helping bolster a young and growing squad, the depth of the Pacific side grew deeper as well. Helping supplement league MVP Marco Bustos was a goal that the front office definitely achieved. 

The 2-0 win over HFX Wanderers showed off exactly how Pa-Modou Kah wanted his team to play. They were fast and aggressive, outworking their opponents and always looking to score. It helped that they were able to retain possession well. The game was capped off by an absolute worldy scored by Bassett for the insurance marker. 

The Tridents went on to finish the bubble with four wins, two draws, and two losses, both of which coming to league champions Forge FC. Though they looked vulnerable against the Hamilton side, it does bearing in mind that Pacific is still a young growing team, while Forge are the back to back defending champs. 

Overall though, the Kickoff bubble was a huge success for the team, starting them off on the right foot and getting time to mesh together as a team. There were promising signs on all fronts, from attacking to possession, while definitely room for improvement when it came to team defense and consistency. 

The return home was long-awaited, over a full year since they played a home match at Starlight Stadium. Pacific FC made sure the fans got full value with an emphatic 2-0 win over Cavalry. Gianni Dos Santos fittingly marked this occasion with a blast into the top corner for his first goal with PFC. 

All in all, the Pacific supporters showed their love to the team they dearly missed and the Tridents have only gone on to reward them with the results that they’re capable of. Certainly, winning is an excellent way to gain a following. 

Though the dog days of August came with a run of slightly tepid form, the men in purple and teal decided to go on and play Vancouver Whitecaps FC off the pitch in the first-ever Ferryside Derby. We’ve covered that extensively, and you can read Between the Sticks’ recap here. Suffice it to say that this Canadian Championship victory was met with a ton of exuberance.

This result sent Pacific through into the quarterfinals against Cavalry, but I feel the victory meant a whole lot more than just progressing. This result is one that can boost a team’s confidence, and really push them onwards for a title challenge. I believe that this could be looked back upon at the end of the season as a true turning point for the Tridents. 

Whatever is the case though, Pacific FC has stepped up and delivered on their promise at the start of the season. 28 points through 15 games are good enough to see them on top of the league, with 13 games to go before the playoffs begin. It’s been a very, very good run thus far. 

Some Things to Keep an Eye On 

Pacific, while leading the CPL, is not doing so by all that much. Forge FC pushed through a lacklustre bubble and has been producing some strong results in this past. It would be wise not to count the defending champions out of the title race yet, especially since they sit only 3 points back with one game on hand. 

Not to mention, the other contender is the team that has been kryptonite to Pacific. For whatever reason, Cavalry’s defensive style matches up extremely well against the Victoria side, and there has been more than one opportunistic goal the Calgary team has been able to poach to steal away points. Currently, they sit level with Pacific in points and games, with only 5 goals separating the two sides. 

With the race for the top of the table heating up, the Tridents look to establish something that has been eluding them since the bubble: consistency. While PFC has picked up good runs of form and performed well, there is something to be said about them dropping results that they should have capitalized on. Draws against relatively weaker sides like Edmonton and York could prove costly later on in the season if their gap narrows down even further. Performing day in and day out is critical if the Tridents want to truly mount a title challenge. 

To further compound this, injuries have begun to sneak into their lineup. Marco Bustos was held out of the Ferryside Derby due to a nagging lower-body injury. Ollie Bassett, whose arrival has sparked this team with creativity and force, has also been missing in recent starting lineups. Now more than ever, the depth that Kah at his disposal will be called upon to produce some results. We’ve been able to see that depth show what they’re capable of in their past match against Valour FC, but it will be interesting to see how they hold up if the big names are held out for longer. 

What’s Coming Up?

Pacific take to the pitch again this Saturday in Edmonton as they hope to keep the momentum up against the mid-table Eddies. Their Quarterfinal CanChamp match against Calvary will take place at ATCO Field on September 22nd, which is also a match to keep an eye out for. Their regular season concludes November 6th against Calvary in Calgary, after which the CPL playoffs will begin. 

All in all, there’s a lot to be optimistic about with the Tridents. The big names have performed well as expected, the team is entertaining and winning, and they have been exactly what Victoria has waited so long to welcome back. Of course, it will be up to the players to keep their focus and see their run all the way to the top. However, if there’s one team that can do it, it’s Pacific FC.

Up Next: Pacific FC vs FC Edmonton, Saturday, September 4th, 2021, 18:00 PDT, 21:00 EDT (Clarke Stadium, Edmonton)

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