Marco Bustos is an accomplished footballer with no individual accomplishments.
That’s not a slight on the Pacific FC attacker, who’s one of three nominees for 2020 CPL Player of the Year. It’s a simple fact.
Canadian footballers rarely win individual accolades, due partly to the lack of a professional opportunities. Bustos, despite successful runs with the Vancouver Whitecaps’ USL team, their MLS squad, and with Valour FC and Pacific in the CPL, has yet to earn an individual honour in his career.
But Bustos looked like an award-winning attacker at The Island Games this summer, scoring five goals and tallying three assists, including a record-setting two-goal, two-assist performance in the second-round finale.
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Between Valour and Pacific, the attacking midfielder has missed just one match due to injury over two CPL seasons, as he’s racked up 3,098 minutes of action – fifth-most in the league – while scoring 12 goals and adding six assists.
He makes no bones about wanting to be named MVP of the 2020 CPL season.
“Obviously it means a lot on an individual level, at least for myself – I train really hard for things like these things,” Bustos told CanPL.ca. “When I train and do the extra stuff no one sees, it’s for things like a most valuable player award.
“To be recognized all across Canada and have my name out there… It’s a testament to all the hard work you do, right?”
The 24-year-old native of Winnipeg hasn’t shied away from his MVP aspirations, revealing to CanPL.ca he and Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah talked about it before a ball was kicked in 2020.
Bustos’ high-profile move from Valour prior to the 2020 CPL campaign put a pretty big spotlight on the shifty left-footed attacker – and he thrived in it, starting with a dramatic go-ahead goal in their first match vs. HFX Wanderers. His wicked left-foot did plenty of damage at The Island Games, including during a massive second-round-clinching winner over FC Edmonton and a two-goal, two-assist season finale.
“The more good performances you can put in while people are talking about you, the better,” Bustos said. “It’s about keeping that consistency when people are talking about you, keep performing and keep putting in goals and assists. I felt like I did that – kept my standard high during The Island Games.”
Player of the Year or not, Bustos insists he had the top individual accolade in the back of his mind since his switch to Pacific. He’s stayed consistent in that belief.
“I’ve been grateful to play almost every game in CPL the past two seasons,” Bustos stated. “It would have been nice to take the North Star Shield, but if I could come away with an individual trophy or would definitely mean a lot to me.
“I think I’ve done enough to take it home.”
Bustos will learn if he’s captured his first major professional honour on Thursday at the CPL Awards as he faces Golden Boot winner Akeem Garcia midfield maestro Kyle Bekker.