It was another frustrating outing for Pacific FC as they lost 2-0 at home to Forge FC this past weekend. It was their fifth game in a row without a win, a run which has seen them claim just two points, as their points lead has completely vanished atop the CPL table, with rivals Cavalry overtaking them following their massive win against Vancouver FC.
James Merriman’s side once again failed to score, and his players are struggling to trouble opposing goalkeepers consistently, with their 6-3 victory in Langley looking like a distant memory. Since that win, their following games have seen them score more than a goal only once, and they’ve been shut out in the last two contests. This past weekend, Pacific attempted 21 shots on goal, but only three found the target. It was pure frustration for fans who saw their side play with a great tempo in their build-up play, but no final result.
Pacific’s attacking struggles have not been down to a lack of volume in creation. Ayman Sellouf and Manny Aparicio, in particular, have been highly creative players for the Tridents. Opportunities are there, and to quote Pacific FC Assistant Coach Armando Sa, who attended the pre-match press conference: “If we weren’t creating the chances, then there would be a problem”. Yet, having gone the last two games without a goal, this leaves Pacific with 33 shots, only seven on target, and no goals during that period – which is probably best described as a serious problem, sorry Armando!
Despite this, the speed of play was impressive throughout the match against Forge. Pacific started off as the brighter of the two sides and put the Forge defence under pressure. However, six minutes in, Kwasi Poku took advantage of hesitation from Kunle Dada-Luke, getting on the end of a cross at the back post to nod Forge ahead. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Pacific, but their heads didn’t drop, and they got straight back into the contest with some solid play of their own. Sadly for Pacific supporters, their team was not able to right the ship on the scoreboard, as David Choinière capped off a Forge counterattack in the 38th minute with a finish that Kieran Baskett will probably look back at thinking he could have done better, giving the visitors a commanding 2-0 lead they would maintain.
James Merriman will be encouraged by the way his team is creating opportunities, but frustrated there by a real lack of composure in key moments in front of goal. Easton Ongaro broke through with a good opportunity in the second half after coming on for Djanario Daniels, who suffered a very worrying head injury. He got in behind the defence in the 57th minute, lifting the ball over Tristan Henry, but his touch was too delicate, and ultimately, the ball was cleared off the line. Apart from this moment, most of the Pacific’s shots were from outside the box. Ongaro did have a second chance in the 62nd minute, after a good cross into the box. However, the tall striker got his timing completely mixed up, as he failed to direct his header with any accuracy, and the ball bounced harmlessly wide of the goal.
Overall, something has to change for the Vancouver Island team. Pacific thrives when they are flowing in possession, but opposing teams have worked hard to slow the game down and create a lot of stoppages. In the case of Forge this past weekend, they did not have a lot of success slowing down the tempo of the match, but they sat deep and held their shape to good effect, making it difficult for Pacific’s attacking players to roam in dangerous areas. James Merriman will be eager for his forwards re-discover their scoring touch, and for his creative players to open more spaces between lines to generate higher danger opportunities going forward. They need more variety in attack if they are going to keep opposing teams off-balance on a regular basis.
Pacific is not the first team to hit a slump in the CPL this season, as Forge looks to be ending a drought of their own at the moment. At current though, Pacific finds themselves with serious questions to answer, all while they no longer have a points lead at the top of the table to rely on.
With a trip to Valour this upcoming Saturday, points are a must for the Tridents as they look to re-establish themselves as front-runners in the race for the CPL regular season crown.