Pacific FC gave new meaning to the phrase “bowing out in style” on Tuesday.
Marco Bustos’ record-setting two goals and two assists helped give the Tridents a 5-0 win over HFX Wanderers FC in their 2020 CPL season finale – a performance worthy of applause and critical acclaim rather than a quiet side-stage exit.
Despite being The Island Games’ lone dead-rubber tilt, Tuesday’s contest ended Pacific’s much-improved 2020 season on an exceptionally high note – one coach Pa-Modou Kah will gladly build upon for the 2021 CPL campaign.
“There’s no such thing as a meaningless game,” Kah told reporters after the game. “There’s something that you can take away from the game and today we take away from finishing off our chances, which, of course, earlier in the tournament, we didn’t do that.”
Bustos’ early assist in Terran Campbell’s goal was a sign of things to come. A back-post header, another assist, and one of the longest one-twos you’ll ever see helped Bustos set a CPL record four “goal involvements” (goals or assists) in a match – arguably the best 90-minute performance by a player in league history.
The 24-year-old’s fifth Island Games goal put him second in the Golden Boot race, now tied with HFX’s João Morelli, and first in assists with three markers.
“This club is moving forward,” Bustos said. “We had to show the pride we have… from the kit guy to players to the coaching staff and owners.
“Obviously it’s hard to come in here and not play for ‘X’ amount of months. It wasn’t easy at all, and obviously, there’s room for improvement, but we can take away a lot of positive things from this tournament.”
Kah was quick to praise Bustos, including an unprompted call for MVP recognition.
Pa-Modou Kah, unprompted, ends his press conference off the cuff with "Oh, and Marco Bustos for MVP." #CanPL
Of course, with an MVP award comes outside interest – Forge sold Tristan Borges this past off-season. When asked about Bustos’ future, Kah didn’t shy away from bigger and brighter things for his attacking dynamo.
“This was a hell of a shift or him,” Kah said of Bustos’ run in PEI. “I had a lot of conversations about the growth that he’s made.
“We want to promote players, and if a team does come we’ll definitely sit down and if it suits him. Obviously we will never be a team that will hold players because I myself have had the pleasure to play at the highest level.
“That’s why we do what we do. That’s why I’m pushing you to help push players, and this club is what is about bringing in players, help them further their career, whether it’s here whether you’re here or MLS.”
Kah spared a thought for the Lake Side Bouys, Torcida Oranizada Pacific (TOP), and other Pacific supporters who watched their 10-match run from the opposite coast.
“I hope they can be very proud of what we’ve achieved,” Kah said of the fans on Vancouver Island. “Hopefully we can keep building on this together with them and eventually can get back Westhills Stadium and give them a show like the one we saw tonight.