Pacific FC is getting set to take on Cavalry FC in Canadian Championship action this week. Here’s our preview ahead of that one.
It’s yet another top-of-the-table clash between Pacific FC and Cavalry FC, only this time it’s in the Canadian Championship Quarterfinal.
On the line?
A berth into the semifinals against either Toronto FC or York United FC.
Here’s how things look for the Tridents going into Wednesday’s tilt, including some things to keep an eye out for, and some talking points.
A Rivalry in the Making?
Fans of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames do not get along, but it’s something that the Victoria-based outfits don’t share with their mainland hockey counterparts in the soccer department. That’s something that I think will change after this CPL season.
Out of four meetings between the sides this year, Pacific holds a slim 2-1-1 head-to-head record. None of those wins came easy either, a 2-0 and 3-1 margin of victory in both. As well, they’ve been handed a tough defeat by Cavalry on August 20th, a 2-1 result that snapped a 6 game undefeated streak.
If Pacific FC are high flying, always optimistic, and attacking, then Cavalry FC would be the foil to that. Manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. has them playing a hard grinding, defensively responsible style that doesn’t give the opposition much at all. And if a team makes a mistake against them, they can certainly make their counterattack lethal.
The Tridents know this full well, and Pa-Modou Kah will be taking precautions to defend against it. PFC know their opponents as well as they know them, and with this being the 5th clash in the last two months, it could spark something much bigger than just another league match soon enough.
Good Form for Both
In their past five matches, Pacific have won three times and drew twice. For Cavalry, they’ve had two wins, two draws, and one loss at the hands of the Tridents. It would be wise not to take this fixture lightly, however.
Both teams have been playing to their strengths as of late, Cavalry getting the job done however they can. For Pacific, though they have managed to create a bit of a gap at the top of the table, they have been showing a little vulnerability as of late.
In their games against bottom-of-the-table teams like FC Edmonton and Atletico Ottawa, it has been a bit of a struggle. A literal last-minute winner by Lukas MacNaughton rescued the purple and teal against the Eddies.
And this past match was no different, with in-form striker Terran Campbell powering a header to salvage a point against Ottawa.
PFC will need to buck this trend against a mightier foe in Cavalry. Still, they have been unbeaten in five, and are still scoring goals, though not as much as before. Now against a very stingy defense, it’ll be interesting to see if the Tridents can return to their usual ways.
Players to Watch, Players to Miss
Of course, the main headliner on Pacific to sit out is Marco Bustos. Having missed the previous CanChamp match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the main man of this Tridents roster still hasn’t made it back onto a lineup sheet. I would hazard a guess that Kah would not want to risk him either, considering that he’s now missed five games and needs match fitness.
What has been encouraging to see though is that Pacific has been winning without him. Having Ollie Bassett back in the lineup has helped too, though that’s not to say the depth hasn’t stepped up.
MacNaughton has quietly put together an extremely solid campaign thus far, being a rock on the backline of this Pacific team. He’s definitely improved lots since he first joined the team, as we remember the two yellow cards on his debut to become the first Trident to ever be sent off. Having his presence at the back helps add that solidity as well as the occasional goal.
Striker Wero Diaz has been a revelation thus far into the year. Not many, including myself, knew what to make of the Mexican, but he’s certainly turned heads. Diaz has become a key cog in the Pacific offense, tallying six goals as the second-leading scorer on the isle. With Bustos out, they’ll want to see more of the same in this Canadian Championship tilt
And of course, special mention needs to be paid to Terran Campbell. After losing his spot in the lineup at the start of the year, it seemed that the Burnaby native would be looking for a new team. However, like he’s done oh so often, Campbell has just been on a tear. He’s forced himself right back into Kah’s plans and taken over the team scoring lead with 7 markers. PFC needs him to continue on this hot run if they want to see off Cavalry this Wednesday.
Going into Enemy Grounds
Unlike the Ferryside Derby, Pacific won’t have the home crowd spurring them on. However, among the supporter groups, there has been some noise about a traveling contingent to Calgary.
Whatever the case, the Tridents will hope to play spoiler in away territory. Kah has already emphasized the focus on soccer for their fixture.
It will be a very tough match, as Cavalry has turned their home ground into a bastion of sorts. They haven’t lost at ATCO Field all season, so it will be a tough ask of the Tridents to get the win on the road.
However, if any team could do it, Pacific would be the best bet. In fact, the purple and teal haven’t lost on the road all season either, excluding the Kickoff bubble. One of these streaks will come to an end on Wednesday, and it’s the best team at home facing off against the best team away from home.
Pacific FC versus Cavalry FC brings plenty of intrigue between these top two sides of the CPL. With both teams being very well matched against each other, it will make for a fascinating fixture to see which side comes out on top. Will it be a continuation of a dream cup run for Pacific to the CanChamp semis? Or will Cavalry continue their strong year and kickstart their own run?
The Canadian Championship match will be available on OneSoccer, with kickoff set for 7 PM PST/8 PM MST.
Up Next: Pacific FC vs Cavalry FC, Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021, 19:00 PDT, 22:00 EDT (ATCO Field, Calgary)