Match Preview – Pacific FC v Valour FC: Tridents return to Winnipeg looking to continue good run of form

A week-long break between Pacific FC matches has been an unfamiliar feeling so far in 2023. With seven matches played in 33 days, and all but one of them at home, this has been incredible run of PFC football. With a full week leading up to this match after last weekend’s 4-1 victory over York United FC, the Tridents have now packed their bags for the second time this season and flown to Winnipeg to face Valour FC on Saturday.

Heading into this match, Pacific sits second in the table – one spot above Valour – and will be looking to further cement themselves in the top class of the Canadian Premier League. The Tridents have found a good rhythm and really started to click as a group early in the season, despite so many new faces joining in the offseason. A trip to Winnipeg will be a good test for the club, especially with that match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC just around the corner.

A positive result on Saturday would be the perfect lead-in to the Canadian Championship semi-final, but all focus will be on playing well in this match and continuing the fantastic league form in a city where the club has experienced a lot of good results.

Trends and Stats

After a good win to start the season, Valour has drawn three and lost two as the positive momentum from the opening match hasn’t carried through. They are one of only two teams to have kept two clean sheets in the league, but fall middle of the pack in most attacking and defensive statistical categories. Additionally, the loss to TSS Rovers in the Canadian Championship was an early set-back for Phil Dos Santos’ team in a campaign that appeared to have much promise after match one. The club still has plenty of time to right the ship, but things are currently trending in the wrong direction.

For Pacific, the last three matches have been about one thing: goals. After struggling a little to find their rhythm together in April, the arrival of a new month has brought lots of goals with it. Two straight 4-1 victories in the league sandwich a 2-0 win over the Rovers in the Canadian Championship. Eight different goal-scorers from those 10 goals point to a collective unit working together to play good football and let those goal-scoring opportunities fall to the man in the right spot, as opposed to forcing actions or taking a touch too many. Will a third-straight 4-1 league victory come on Saturday? If the history of this matchup tells us anything it’s that the goals often flow when these two line up against each other.


Pacific has absolutely dominated this matchup over the years. In 15 matches, Pacific has 11 wins and two draws. Along with the Tridents often coming away on top, there is also always goals in this fixture. Three times this match has finished 3-2 to Pacific and both draws have been 2-2. In total, the Tridents have outscored Valour 31-18.

In six matches at IG Field, where the match will be on Saturday, Pacific has four wins and one draw. Overall, the head-to-head stands at 11 wins for Pacific, two for Valour, and two draws.


“I think there’s so much more to come for the group. We can change players in games, we’re very versatile and growing in confidence in each match. So it’s exciting, and I still think there’s a long long way for us to go and that’s how the group feels as well, so I think we’re just getting started.” —Pacific FC head coach James Merriman

Players to Watch

Pacific FC – Adonijah Reid, Valour FC – Pacifique Niyongabire

After arriving in the offseason as a high-profile signing for the club, Reid has begun to thrive in his role as an option at centre-forward, no. 10, and winger. The 23-year-old opened his account for PFC during the match against TSS Rovers in acrobatic style as he smashed David Brazão’s cross into the back of the net with a scissor-kick finish. A few days later, Reid was called upon to start against York and put in a Man of the Match performance to help lead the Tridents to the 4-1 victory. With brilliant feet and great hold-up play for a smaller forward, Reid’s ability to combine with his teammates and take up good positions gives the Tridents an excellent option up front. With Easton Ongaro as the other centre-forward to this point, Reid’s style of play doesn’t allow for teams to plan for one type of striker. Look for Reid to play a big role against Valour on Saturday wherever he may line up.

On the other side, Niyongabire has been one of the most electric players in the CPL so far this season. Lightning quick and smart in the final third, Niyongabire has quickly established himself as a crucial player for Dos Santos. With two assist to his name already, the 23-year-old Burundi international will be the one to watch out wide. Look for Bradley Vliet or Georges Mukumbilwa, whoever lines up at left-back for Pacific, to focus on stopping Valour’s no. 24 from receiving the ball in those spaces where he can make things happen.

Keys to Victory

Given the sheer amount of matches played so far, Merriman and his staff have had to utilize the squad’s depth on many occasions. This has given younger players, and the new arrivals, a chance to show their quality. Players like Brazão, Reid, and Steffen Yeates have come into the lineup when called upon and made an impact. Expect there to be some rotation this weekend, and whoever is given a starting role will be plenty motivated to make their mark on the game. Especially with that match against the Whitecaps just around the corner, depth will play a crucial role in getting a positive result on Saturday.

The Tridents also can’t allow themselves to be passive in or out of possession. Valour has shown the ability to play at a high intensity and will be looking to take the game to Pacific at home. Along those lines, the Tridents have been at their best when taking chances in possession. With so many dynamic and fluid attacking players, the goals have started to flow in the last three games no matter who’s in the lineup. Eight different goal-scorers in the last three games points to an attacking unit that is firing on all cylinders, and one that will need to be again to beat a tough opponent in Valour.

Match Facts to Know

  • With a win against Valour FC on Saturday, James Merriman would break his tie with Pa-Modou Kah for the record of most wins as Pacific FC head coach. Merriman and Kah both currently have 21, so Merriman’s next win, whenever that may be, will see him hold the record himself.
  • A win on Saturday would also be Pacific FC’s 50th win in club history (all competitions).
  • After having never recorded a 4-1 victory in club history, Pacific FC now has two in a row in the Canadian Premier League. Could a third straight be on the way on Saturday?