The Tridents open their account during the second round of The Island Games on Wednesday against first-place Cavalry FC (8pm ET/9pm AT, OneSoccer). They’re the only member of CPL’s top four to beat the Cavs in round one when a pair of first-half goals lifted PFC to back-to-back wins.
It’s a distinction that Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah relishes.
“They’re a team that doesn’t lose often and don’t like to lose,” Kah told CanPL.ca. “They will want to come back and have their revenge. It’s not going to be easy. We expect them to come back. We have to match what they’re bringing.”
Kah’s side narrowly escaped a first-round exit on Sunday. Heroics from potential MVP candidate Marco Bustos lifted PFC to a win over FC Edmonton and secured a berth at the expense of York9 FC.
Kah and Pacific haven’t had much time to work out since that epic comeback win over Edmonton, or since the Island Games kicked off on Aug. 13.
“There’s always something you can work on and tweak but today we went over some stuff we expect Cavalry to do and that was it,” Kah said.
“That’s why it helps to have a philosophy as a team. After the first round, it would have been nice to sit down and take a look back. It is what is. We roll with the punches. Everyone wishes they had more time.”
Perhaps that’s was why Pacific earmarked a trip to the beach on Labour Day. Kah took the group to a sequestered red-sand area for a bit of mental health time, something he hopes will help the side on Wednesday.
“It was great for the mental health of the players, Otherwise you’re confined in the hotel and the patio you have,” Kah said.
“Even though they’re football players, they need a bit of that get away from people, football, everything… Since we’re from [Vancouver] Island, going to the beach has been fantastic for us.”
Through Pacific’s seven matches, it’s clear this side is much different than Year 1’s inaugural roster. Returnees Alessandro Hojabrpour, Noah Verhoeven, and Zachary Verhoven have played fractions of their 2020 output, while newcomers Jordan Haynes, Sean Young, and Jamar Dixon shine have looked solid. When asked about that reduced playing time for his returnees, Kah insisted squad selection has been based on the opposition.
“We use the player matchups that are best suited for us,” Kah said. “And Noah’s in a good spot. For us, it’s about finding the chemistry and balance with the player we have. We’re happy with Noah. His professionalism has been fantastic, he’s working hard.
“It’s the same with Alessandro or even [Alejandro] Diaz – they’re finding their spots.”