Marco Bustos doesn’t hide his ambition to play at a higher level.
The Pacific FC winger has been one of the top players in the CPL the past two years, to the extent that he surprised some people around the league by re-signing with the club for 2021. At the end of the day, though, his situation on Vancouver Island is too good to throw away lightly.
“I still have a lot to unlock, and the coaches believe that too, that there’s still a lot of ability in myself that I still haven’t reached,” Bustos told CanPL.ca recently. “It’s just about getting that ability out, and I think the best place to do that is at Pacific.”
Bustos moved to Pacific from Valour FC last off-season, looking to continue dominating in the CPL while re-uniting with some familiar faces. The former Vancouver Whitecaps attacker had already played with many of his PFC teammates before, and he knew coach Pa-Modou Kah extremely well from his time with the MLS side’s reserve team.
“My relationship with Pa is almost like a brotherhood relationship,” Bustos said. “He’s always been there for me, he’s mentored me along the way. The way he pushes me to be better, him and his staff every day, is an environment you want to be in. You need people pushing you, people placing goals in front of you.”
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Although the 2020 season was short, Bustos’ introduction to Pacific has to be called a success. He started all 10 games for the club in Prince Edward Island, and he produced some dazzling, MVP-calibre performances. Were it not for Bustos’ heroics against FC Edmonton, the club likely wouldn’t have made the top four.
Bustos has already been rewarded for his strong play, with his invitation in January to the Canadian national team. He has plenty left to accomplish at the club level with Pacific, though (and not just the CPL Player of the Year award, either).
Speaking to CanPL.ca, Kah agreed that Pacific’s star attacker is definitely in the right place.
“He craves stability and he craves the environment that was pushing him to achieve those heights,” Kah stated. “With us, he came in and he showed that he wanted to be a leader, and he has grown. To see where he is, it’s a true testament to him, but also it’s a true testament that hard work is undefeated.”
So, the 24-year-old Bustos revealed it was an easy decision to re-sign on Vancouver Island. Although he admits he may have had options to move elsewhere, he explained there’s no sense in moving just for the sake of chasing a higher level; he’s found something good at Pacific, and he won’t give that up for just anything.
“I’ve never shied away that I want to play at a higher level, but it’s something that you can’t rush, and when the time is right and the right moment comes, the right organization comes calling for you, that’s kind of what you have to wait for,” Bustos explained. “I’ve moved a few times and some places didn’t work out.
“Just because something in Europe comes up, I don’t want to accept it just because it’s playing in Europe. It has to be in the right environment, the right playing style. Obviously there’s give and take, but you’ve got to look for stuff like that. Does the coach like your type of player? Is the coach bringing you in, or is it the club bringing you in?”
With his future settled for the immediate future, Bustos is eager for the 2021 CPL season, with Pacific bringing back almost their entire roster from 2020 (and adding Manny Aparicio to the mix, as well).
“In the tournament I don’t even think we hit full stride,” Bustos said. “We’ve had excellent moments, but obviously moments that we definitely need to work on. But I think we’re a step ahead of most teams because we’ve brought back basically everybody.
“It’s not easy to jump into one of our sessions. But if everyone has the right mindset, and the same mindset, I think it makes things easier. Everyone needs to come in, put the work in, and just be good humans.”
If Pacific is to improve on its top-four showing from The Island Games, Bustos is certain to be at the head of the charge.