TORONTO – With kickoff less than a month away, Pacific FC are keeping their cards close to their chest.
The Vancouver Island-based outfit will open the season on Sunday, April 28 when they welcome HFX Wanderers FC Stadium in Langford, British Columbia.
“I can’t give away too much, in terms of how we’re going to look on the pitch or what type of system we’re going to play, but I will say we have a team that has the potential to play nice football at a high energy,” hinted striker Marcus Haber. “A team that is going to play to our strengths; has got a strong core from front to back.
“We’re going to play football that is appealing, but also effective.”
Ben Fisk too was cautious in revealing details.
“We’re going to be a team with a lot of life,” offered the midfielder. “Beyond that, I don’t want to delve into tactics too much.
“We’re going to be very fun to watch, that’s how I would describe us.”
Their coach, Michael Silberbauer, prefers to let the players available determine the right approach.
“I’m not the one that is out there on the pitch,” Silberbauer said. “I have ideas, but in the end it’s the players who are playing, so we need a vision that fits the type of players we’ve got.
“That’s what we’re trying to build.”
That was one of the reasons for their ‘pre-‘pre-season retreat to Tofino.
“It was important for me to get a look at the guys first; that everybody got to know each other,” stressed the Danish coach. “That’s the approach: get on the same page before we move forward.”
It is no mystery that Pacific have acquired some of the most eye-catching of the returning Canadians: Haber, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Marcel de Jong, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and will miss the season, and Fisk.
But they have also attracted a lot of exciting young talent: Kadin Chung, Noah Verhoeven, Matthew Baldisimo, Terran Campbell and 18-year-olds Jose Hernandez and Alessandro Hojabrpour.
“A good mix of experience and youth,” summed up Haber of the squad. “A mainly Canadian core. A lot of guys know each other and have played together. That’s going to bode well for the chemistry of the group.
“We look strong.”
And the youngsters have impressed through these early days, too.
“I don’t want to single any of them out because as a group they’ve been fantastic,” Fisk said. “We’re going to need two or three to step up, grab their jersey, hold onto it, and be key contributors.
“I’m looking forward to see who can sustain; show the kind of consistency needed.”
As the veterans Haber and Issey will be looked to to help the young ones get on the right path.
“Everyone can lend any bit of experience they have to the younger boys,” Haber said. “Fisk, a very lively character, likes to share what he has. Hendrick (Starostzik), the German centre-half, who has played at a really high level, can lend his experience to defenders around him.
“At every position, we’ve got players that have been abroad, been in Europe and played at high level. It’s only going to bode well for helping the younger players.”
Leadership, however, can come from anywhere.
“You can be 19 and a leader; you can be 35 and not,” Silberbauer said. “Many times in football, having experienced something gets you in a position that you have something to offer somebody who hasn’t experienced it yet.”
The team did suffer a significant loss in preseason when de Jong was ruled out for the year.
“Like everything, he’s been excellent about it,” Silberbauer said. “It was a big blow. We are all terribly sorry for him and wishing him a speedy recover. He was expected to have a big role. We’ll still try and get him that, it will just unfortunately not be on the pitch for a while.
“We’re all supportive of him and we’ll get him ready to play again as soon as possible.”
His teammates were even on hand to help Marcel and his family move into their new home.
Despite the loss of de Jong, Pacific have been highlighted by some as the early favourites.
Haber cares not for such labels.
“I don’t pay attention to any of that,” Haber offered. “No one has played a game yet. Credit to our management for assembling a squad that others think is strong. We are strong; we’re going to do well this year, but it’s a long season.
“There are going to be ups and downs; it’s going to be a grind like any other season. It’s about not getting ahead of yourself. We’re just looking forward to the opening match. We’re going to be ready.”