PREVIEW: Pacific FC vs. York United
Canadian Premier League

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #14
Pacific FC vs. York United
May 4, 2024 at 4 p.m. PT
Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C.
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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On Saturday, York United travel to Starlight Stadium for the first time in 2024 — where their 2023 season came to a conclusion after a 1-0 playoff loss to Pacific FC.

The Nine Stripes are coming off a 3-1 loss to rivals Forge FC which eliminated them from the Canadian Championship on Wednesday. This will be their first match outside of Ontario in 2024, as their previous road trips this season were to Hamilton and Ottawa.

“I think it’s an important time for us to get away as a group,” said York United head coach Martin Nash. “It’s not going to be an easy one we know, as both teams played Wednesday…we’ll have to add some fresh legs and have a go at them.”

Pacific FC was the only CPL side that York did not defeat last season, losing to them on four occasions including that playoff defeat, and drawing 0-0 in their other meeting. They were outscored 10-2 across those five matches. It is worth noting, however, that only three of those ten goals were scored by players who remain with Pacific FC this season.

Goals have been at a premium in general when Pacific FC have played thus far this season. They are the only Canadian Premier League club who hasn’t conceded yet this season, and have scored three times in three matches themselves — picking up two wins and a draw to begin the 2024 CPL campaign.

This is the fourth time that the Tridents have gone three consecutive CPL games without allowing a goal in club history, but they have never managed to reach a fourth. Pacific conceded an 89th-minute Ben Fisk goal against Cavalry in their final regular season match of the 2022 season, denying what would have been a club record fourth straight clean sheet.

They did finally allow their first goal of the campaign in all competitions midweek against League1 BC side TSS Rovers in the Canadian Championship. But a late equalizer deep into stoppage time from Reon Moore forced penalties, where Pacific prevailed to advance to a two-legged quarter-final meeting with Atlético Ottawa. It was yet another example of this team finding ways to get positive results early this year.

Pacific spent this past week dealing with an illness that limited the minutes of certain players, and kept Emil Gazdov out of this past Sunday’s CPL match against Cavalry. There were several players rotated out of the lineup midweek against TSS Rovers as well with Saturday’s match in mind but all should be available again.


  • Defensive solidity the key to success: Pacific have proven to be a tough team to get by so far this season. Between Gazdov and Melvin, the Pacific FC shot-stoppers have brought a high level of confidence to the Tridents backline. The new-founded partnership between TMG and Aly Ndom is one that Pacific fans should excited about, proving the new-look backline is one that will be stingy this season.


  • Bold coaching decisions paying off for Merriman thus far: Entering his third season as coach of Pacific FC, this is a big year for James Merriman to prove that he can keep this club among the league’s elite. So far, the Pacific coach has shown no fear in making some pretty bold coaching decisions when he feels it can benefit his group and earn them a result. In their second match of the season, Pacific completed a triple substitution at half-time with the match tied 0-0, and Pacific would go on to win . Then against TSS Rovers on Wednesday, he made the bold decision to swap his goalkeepers for the penalty shootout, bringing on Emil Gazdov. The 20-year-old made a pair of saves in the seven round shootout, before captain Josh Heard scored the winner as Pacific advanced. “We know we want to win something this season, we want to be competitive and we want to be there in the end with Cavalry and Forge the way they finished the season last year, for us to miss out, we’ve thought a lot about some of the decisions we made along the way,” said Merriman. “We need to be more ruthless, we need to be more decisive in the moments.”


  • Can Pacific FC find ways to hold onto the ball more: It has been a bit of a different look to start the year from a Pacific FC side that has long prided itself on taking care of the ball and playing dynamic attacking football — and not necessarily by design. Defensively, they have been quality, but next the team is looking to add more of their signature attacking flair to the mix in the coming games. The Tridents have only kept 46 percent of the ball thus far this season, second-fewest in the league and down from an average of 53.39 possession over the past three seasons. After leading the league in open-play expected goals last season, they managed a league-low 2.56 this year. “Defensively we’ve been good, our goalkeepers have been excellent,” said Merriman. “The way we’ve built out of the back, I think our build-up play has been very good and now I think it’s more our middle third and the attacking third and going to go. This we have time to continue to build, it’s not something we are worried about, but it’s something we are focused on of course.”



Pacific FC wins: 7 || York United wins: 6 || Draws: 6

Last meeting:

Oct. 11, 2023 — Pacific FC 1-0 York United


We are happy with the start to our season, but of course we want more. We want a lot more in terms of how we want to play, how we want to be with the ball, how we want to attack. Our forwards want to be more decisive and direct and create more goals and goal chances.— Pacific FC head coach James Merriman

“Even for the last two years they’re very comfortable without the ball. They’re good in possession but they’re comfortable without the ball. They don’t mind defending in long spells and they do a good job on the counter as well so they’re a difficult team to play against. They are always organized, and they are always at it.” — York United head coach Martin Nash