Pacific FC extend Gazdov, sign three other young Canadian players

On Wednesday, Pacific FC announced the signing of four young Canadians ahead of the 2023 Canadian Premier League season, including a two-year contract extension for touted No. 1 goalkeeper Emil Gazdov.

Gazdov has signed a two-year contract extension, with an option for another season, that will see him in Pacific FC colours up to the 2026 FIFA World Cup. One of Canada’s most exciting young goalkeepers at just 19 years old, Gazdov is taking over Callum Irving’s number-one shirt for the 2023 season and looks to have a breakout campaign in front of him.

After making his professional debut last season, the North Vancouver-born shot-stopper has spent the offseason working with PFC’s new Head Goalkeeper Coach Daniel Ortiz as well as the club’s new signing Kieran Baskett to continue his promising development.

Emil has great potential and has all the tools to become a complete goalkeeper,” said James Merriman, Head Coach, Pacific FC. “He is still very young, he knows he has work to do, he has many things to improve and we believe he’s committed to his development. Young players need opportunities to develop, they need professional games to learn and this is what we believe at Pacific FC.” 

Defender Eric Lajeunesse has signed a U SPORTS Contract, allowing him to maintain his U SPORTS eligibility while earning professional experience. Pacific selected the centre-back, 19, with the sixth overall pick in the 2023 CPL-U SPORTS draft. 

Eric Lajeunesse (Bob Frid / UBC)

Lajeunesse is a first-year student-athlete with the University of British Columbia, where he was a key contributor on the Thunderbirds’ road to the 2022 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship. The six-foot-two native of Ottawa is comfortable on the ball and in possession, with good passing range and ability to work with fullbacks around him. 

“Eric has come into pre-season and worked every day towards a U-Sports contract,” said Merriman. “He absolutely deserves the opportunity and we want to continue to develop him in our system.” 

Two Van Isle Wave players, Sami Marvasti, 16, and Jack Garner, 17, have signed CPL Developmental Contracts, which provide amateur players the opportunity to be included on a professional Club’s roster without losing the ability to train and play with their amateur team.

Marvasti, who spent part of his youth career with local club Saanich Fusion FC, is a centre midfielder. The 16-year-old currently plays for the VI Wave ’06 Boys team and retains his ability to play for them by signing a CPL Development Contract.

Garner is a member of the VI Wave ’07 Boys team and also spent time with local club Gorge FC as a young player. The goalkeeper has been an extremely promising prospect for years and will spend the season training with Ortiz, Gazdov, and Baskett. Like Marvasti, he will retain the ability to play for his VI Wave team.

“This is an exciting step in the Youth Development inside of Pacific FC,” said Shawn Fiddick, Executive Director of Youth Programs, Pacific FC. “Both players have been role models and exemplary in their performance both on and off the field.”