Haber confirmed to CanPL.ca he was formally released by Pacific FC “months ago,” and that he initially connected with Cavalry through former national team teammate Nik Ledgerwood, who asked him if he was fit. Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. then quickly reached out to Haber.
“Tommy gave me a call the next day and asked if I wanted to come out to train,” Haber recalled. “‘We can both evaluate each other and go from there’ – it was a pretty open-ended conversation. I have a lot of respect for Cavalry from playing against them and their Canadian Championship run so it was a no-brainer.
“It’s always nice to have that recognition and respect, especially from Tommy and [assistant coach Martin] Nash, and a team that’s done so well. To be added as an extra piece to a team that’s done so well is a fantastic feeling.”
Haber made 15 appearances for Pacific in all competitions in 2019, scoring four times. All four goals were headers, as the six-foot-four forward showcased his physical prowess that has been well-known to Canadian national team observers.
That aerial ability certainly wasn’t lost on Wheeldon Jr., who will use Haber as a tournament-breaking battering ram, smashing into opposition defences in search of a goal.
Haber, a Vancouver native with 27 caps to his credit, faced Cavalry four times in 2019 for a Pacific FC side then led by Michael Silberbauer. As Haber admitted, last season was far below expectations.
When asked to reflect on Pacific and his departure, Haber simply offered: “I haven’t put much thought into the club since I left, to be honest.
“I’ve been focusing on myself and getting into a position to join a team that values me as a player and a person. I wish (Pacific) all the best and they have their own way of doing things but I’m a Cavalry player and, ultimately, they are the team that showed belief.
“A team that shows you respect will get the most out of you.”
Haber, who entered Cavalry camp late, has some stiff competition for playing time. Peruvian Jair Cordova comes highly-rated as another physical handful in the 18-yard box. But Haber, who wore the captain’s armband for Pacific several times last year, is prepared to work in tandem with his new attacking teammates, especially with The Island Games forcing teams to rotate squads more often.
“When you have a tournament like this, with the number of games coming thick and fast, every player will be part of a greater rotation. I don’t think many attacking players will put in 90 minutes,” Haber said.
As for settling in Calgary, Haber found himself a part of the team almost immediately. That became apparent when teammates Sergio Camargo and Niko Giantsoplous lampooned Haber’s Instagram account on their “CanPro Life” YouTube series.
The type of banter was one of the things that attracted Haber to Cavalry, who pointed to the team’s locker room levity as a reason for their 2019 success.
“I thought it was hilarious. I did not expect anything like that.. I’m glad they got good comedic value out of Instagram – they could have gone a bit harder,” Haber joked, poking fun at his own fashion-heavy social feed.
“It says a lot about those guys and how welcoming they are. They made me feel like a part of the team right away and that goes to show the culture they have at the club. They like to have a laugh – and that’s the kind of environment a player like me wants to be part of.”