Still unbeaten at home in 2022, Pacific FC is looking to widen their lead at the top of the league with a victory over York United FC at Starlight Stadium on Friday night. The visitors are amongst a group of five teams on eight points, half the amount of points the league leaders have. A win for the Tridents on Friday could already push Pacific well clear of the chasing pack. Something to keep in mind is that these two play at Starlight Stadium again on Tuesday, that time in the Canadian Championship, so could we see any tinkering or maneuvering of the lineup from either head coach in this one?
Pacific’s home form has been what’s propelled them to the top of the league and given them an eight-point gap over the group of teams in second to fifth. Pacific currently sits on 16 points while four teams, including York United, sit on eight points. York has, however, played a match fewer than Pacific and has an evenly split 2-2-2 record.
The Nine Stripes last two matches have come on the road – a loss and a penalty shootout win – so Pacific will be confident of getting a result at Starlight Stadium tomorrow.
York United has gotten the better of Pacific over the course of their nine previous meetings. The Nine Stripes have four victories over Pacific, including a 2-1 win on the Island during the final stretch last season. Pacific did, however, come away with a 3-0 win in one of the three matches these two played last season.
“We’re happy with where we’re at. We know that there’s more to come and that it’s still very early in the season and our best football is yet to come. So we’re working hard to continue to improve and work on areas that we need to improve on, and in areas that we’re doing well, continue to develop those and work hard at that, as well as good relationships and chemistry within the players, within the groups. We’ve seen our depth as well, and there’s more to come for players that haven’t got opportunities, too. So I think it’s still early but you know, we’re happy where we’re at.” – James Merriman (h/t CanPL.ca)
Players to Watch
Pacific – Jamar Dixon; York – Jordan Wilson
Dixon and Wilson are two players with similar remits that act as an extension of the coach on the pitch.
Pacific FC’s captain, Dixon, epitomizes the club’s ability to play in multiple ways. The 32-year-old is capable of playing as a gritty midfield destroyer but is equally adept as a ball-carrier or passer in possession. Dixon’s ability to dominate the middle of the park is sometimes easy to miss because of the ease with which he does so, but his contributions on and off the pitch are what really make Pacific tick.
Wilson’s ability to screen his back-line and marshal the midfield are a big part of York’s ability to get results. The 30-year-old can sometimes be seen wearing the captain’s armband, but even when he doesn’t you’ll see him barking instructions to his team on the pitch. Wilson helped the Nine Stripes qualify for the first playoff appearance in club history last season, his first with the team, and looks set to lead this young group forward again thanks to his measured approach.
The Story to this Point
Pacific’s story is more straightforward. The Tridents lead the league with 16 points from seven games, have only lost once all season and have a perfect four wins from four at home. Pacific has scored 10 goals overall, nine of them at home, and has only been shutout twice in 2022. The defending champions have twice as many points as any other team in the CPL through the opening weeks of the season and have picked up right where they left off in December.
York United on the other hand have had an up and down opening six matches in 2022. After a disappointing loss and draw to start the season, York has beaten Cavalry FC and Forge FC in the CPL and Atlético Ottawa in the Canadian Championship. The Nine Stripes are a very young squad whose season will most likely be filled with highs and lows like they’re already experienced. To this point though, there’s bound to be plenty of optimism that they can beat anyone on their day, it’s just a question of how often “their day” comes around.
Keys to Victory
York United have excellent young attackers, but if the supply line to Noah Verhoeven in midfield is cut off, the Nine Stripes can struggle to progress the ball. Pacific will have to we wary of players like Lowell Wright and Osaze De Rosario if York is able to move the ball forward quickly though. A coordinated press and compact shape from Pacific could frustrate the visitors into playing aimless long balls forward.
From an attacking perspective, Pacific always look to take the game to their opponent at home and Friday will be no different. York has a very competent back five, however, including Dominick Zator, Diyaeddine Abzi, and Chrisnovic N’sa, so there won’t be an easy path to goal for Pacific’s front line. From Pacific’s perspective though, having Manny Aparicio in outstanding form as well as the golden boot leader (Alejandro Diaz) and assist leader (Marco Bustos) should mean they’re able to create multiple quality chances on Friday.
News and Notes
Here’s what else you need to know before Friday’s match:
- Four Pacific FC player were named to the Team of the Week for Week 6: Amer Didic, Alejandro Diaz, Jamar Dixon and Manny Aparicio. Aparicio was also named Player of the Week for his sparkling performance against FC Edmonton last weekend.
- Friday’s match is the first of back-to-back home games against York United FC. First up, this Canadian Premier League match, then a quarter-final match in the Canadian Championship on Tuesday.
Tomorrow we MARCH to the MATCH 🥁📣 Join @TOP_Pacific & @LakeSideBuoys at #TheLangfordStation for the Supporters March – departing Station Ave. at 6:00pm ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/RJROetKTLk
— Pacific FC (@Pacificfccpl) May 19, 2022
Pacific FC v York United FC by Jack Longo