Final Score: Valour FC 0-2 Pacific FC
Goalscorers: Diaz (29′), Campbell (73′)
Game of the 2021 season: 47
CPL match: 182
Match in a minute or less
Pacific FC went into IG Field on Monday night looking to extend their lead atop the Canadian Premier League standings, and did just that — beating Valour FC 2-0.
Alejandro Diaz gave The Tridents the lead in the 29th minute, firing the ball home from close range. Manny Aparicio found a charging Josh Heard with a pass toward the goal line, and Heard made a brilliant cross to Diaz, who made no mistake from a few yards out. Valour nearly equalized at the end of the first half, but a huge save from Callum Irving to deny Austin Ricci a headed goal kept it at 1-0 heading into halftime.
Irving would make a pair of other saves on the night, picking up a league-leading seventh clean sheet, while Terran Campbell added a second for Pacific in the second half, doubling the lead by redirecting home a cross from Aparicio in the 73rd minute.
Manny Aparicio shines in midfield
Since switching York United for Pacific FC this offseason, Manny Aparicio hasn’t really been able to show off his full ability yet as injuries have limited him to just six matches. At his best, Aparicio can be one of the best midfielders in the CPL, and reminded us exactly why on Monday.
An excellent passer, Aparicio’s skillset was on full display against Valour as Pacific’s main creative midfielder. He tied for the team lead with two key passes, including an assist on The Tridents’ second goal with a driven, low cross that Terran Campbell swept home from a few yards out.
He also played a major part in Pacific’s opener, taking advantage of a brilliant run from Josh Heard. He played a perfectly weighted pass through the Valour defence, which Heard ran on to before crossing the ball to Alejandro Diaz, who fired it home at the back post.
Aparicio also made a team-leading three tackles in an impressive display.
“Manny is an excellent player, and we knew we were getting one of the most creative, hardworking midfielders, and a very honest guy,” said Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah after the match. “He wants to win, and that’s one of the reasons why he chose to come to us. He’s finding his groove and today’s a true testament to his hard work and putting in the effort day-in and day-out.
“He’s been a little bit hampered with injuries, but we are very happy to have him here — what he brings on the pitch, but also great professionalism on and off the pitch, which is very huge for us as a football club. Having persons and players like this is huge.”
Aparicio was also happy with his performance, and the way his team as a whole played.
“They were good passes, but at the end of the day my pass to Josh on the first [goal] doesn’t happen if he doesn’t make the run. I think that’s one thing we’ve been focusing on — not only the passes being made but also the runs following through,” said Aparicio after the match. “Josh made a great run and it was pretty easy to play him in with the intensity he was making that run.
“Same thing with the second one — I pushed it by the defender and T (Terran Campbell) was yelling for me to put it into the box and when guys want it that bad, it just makes the decision for you.”
“Missed opportunity” for Valour sees them winless in six
Valour are scoreless in three-straight matches, and winless in six. At The Kickoff, they came flying out of the gate with 18 points through their first seven matches, but lost their final game in the bubble and have lost four of five since then — picking up a single point in a 0-0 draw with FC Edmonton last week.
Their hot start still sees them sitting in third in the league table, but after their recent form, need a bounce to go their way or a moment of magic to get themselves back in the win column. Head coach Rob Gale, rightly so, has been adamant that his side hasn’t performed as poorly as their recent record suggests, and that “basic errors” have let them down in the past handful of matches.
Valour have dominated for parts of matches against very good teams, but have been missing the final pass or finish to score crucial goals, while split-second mistakes at the back have been the main reason they’ve conceded goals, and therefore dropped points.
“We let them off the hook, and it’s a missed opportunity for us,” said Valour head coach Rob Gale after the match. “We’ve got to find a way to turn good football into more goalscoring chances, and take the chances at key moments. We’ve got to eliminate basic errors in the goals that we’ve conceded.”
Gale said that the final ball has been letting his team down after they create good chances, and that his side have also been stopped on multiple occasions by massive saves from opposing goalkeepers — like the one Callum Irving made to deny Austin Ricci at the end of the first half on Monday.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard,” said Valour midfielder, and captain, Daryl Fordyce when asked what his side needs to do to turn their poor run of form around. “We need to get ourselves out of it. The boys are working very hard in the limited training sessions we’ve had, and had we got a goal in the first half we would have kept it (the momentum Valour seemed to have) going.
“We’ve got to recover and go again, there’s no two ways about it.”
Callum Irving takes league-lead in clean sheets
Making some huge stops on Monday night, Callum Irving earned his seventh clean sheet of the 2021 season, giving him sole possession of first place on the league’s leaderboard in that category. He was previously tied with Valour’s Jonathan Sirois, who was in the opposite goal from him in this match.
Irving made three saves in total, including a huge stop in the final moments of the first half to keep Pacific’s lead intact.
“Callum has brought great leadership at the back, Callum is a non-verbal leader,” said Kah after the match. “We know that we have a great professional, and I think he’s the best goalkeeper in Canada, and it’s showing. On the last corner of the first half he made a wonderful save, and those are gamechangers. I cannot compliment him enough.”
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Manny Aparicio, Pacific FC
Pacific’s big offseason signing had his best performance of the season on Monday, assisting Pacific’s second goal and making things happen in midfield.
Next up for Pacific FC is a home game against Cavalry FC on Friday, August 20 (6:30 pm PT/ 9:30 pm ET). Valour head to the nation’s capital to take on Atlético Ottawa in Canadian Championship action on Saturday, August 21 (7 pm ET/ 6 pm CT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.