Bustos is grateful for the playing time that the CPL has offered him over the past two seasons. Between Valour FC and Pacific, the attacking midfielder has missed just one match due to injury, as he’s racked up 3,098 minutes of action – fifth-most in CPL history – while scoring 12 goals and adding six assists.
As a result, the 24-year-old native of Winnipeg-native can’t help but think about how he might fare if given the opportunity to move to another league at a higher level.
“The more consistently you’re playing the better idea you have for your next league… I’ve been grateful that the two seasons I’ve played in CPL I’ve played every game… I’ve played a lot of minutes,” Bustos told CanPL.ca.
“Through that experience of constantly playing, you get a feeling of what kind of football suits you and where you think you can get to. It’s helped me tremendously that I’ve been playing so many minutes and contributing quite a bit. You get to know more about yourself – I don’t think I would be a dominant player in the Scottish Premier League or Scottish Championship, for example, so now I know that.”
While a move to Scotland seems unlikely for the Pacific attacker, a step up to another league somewhere closer is a possibility. Rumours have swirled around Bustos since The Island Games kicked off in August, with MLS sides Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps (his former club) reported to be interested in him.
Bustos says there have been “talks” about his departure, but there’s nothing set in stone or concrete.
“We’ll see what happens,” Bustos said. “I’m just living day-by-day and when I hear of an option, then I will have to pick one that suits me as a person as a player.
“My door is open for a return to MLS, it’s another step higher. And I feel like that’s a level that I can perform at.”
Bustos is quick to caution against a move to Europe, saying he wouldn’t want to go to overseas “just for the sake of it.”
In the meantime, Pacific will be training on Vancouver Island until November, an extended stay Bustos for which Bustos is thankful. Coach Pa-Modou Kah revealed the entire 2020 Island Games roster would be based on the West Coast this off-season, including Mexican striker Alejandro Diaz.
“Everyone’s on board, everyone wants to train. We’re going to do this for two months so we don’t really want to think too far ahead. It is a big offseason where we don’t get to play games, but that’s the way it is. Everyone’s in the same boat. So just gotta make the best of it.”
Whether or not Bustos remains a Trident for the 2021 CPL campaign, it’s clear the Winnipegger has enjoyed his return to the West Coast and reunited with former Whitecaps teammate Kah, who believes Bustos is an MVP frontrunner.
Bustos told CanPL.ca that he and Kah set a goal to become a Player of the Year nominee at the beginning of the CPL season. While a North Star Shield wasn’t attainable in 2020 for Bustos, winning the league’s top honour still is.
“I feel like this organization has been top class and has treated me really well,” Bustos said. “It was a really good time playing for Pacific. It would have been a different feeling playing home games at Westhills (Stadium) with this with the fans there.”