PREVIEW: Pacific FC vs. TSS Rovers — 2023 Canadian Championship

2023 Canadian Championship — Quarter-final
Pacific FC vs. TSS Rovers
May 10, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. PT
Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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Can the magic continue for the TSS Rovers?

That’s the question on everyone’s minds right now, as the soccer pirates’ maiden voyage into the Canadian Championship continues with a clash against Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium on Wednesday.

After providing the big upset of the preliminary round of the Canadian Championship just to get here, as they beat Valour 3-1 last month to become the first League 1 Canada side to eliminate a professional team from this competition, the Rovers have now reached uncharted territory with this match.

No other League 1 Canada team has ever made it this far in this competition, so the Rovers will know the history they carry heading into this game. At the same time, with the freedom of being the underdogs, they also head into this game confident, knowing that their big victory is just being able to play on this big stage.

At the same time, they’re in this to win it. A tall task awaits, as they head out on the road to one of the toughest places to play in the Canadian Premier League, but that won’t faze the Rovers.

Therefore, look for them to keep the good times rolling.

The Rovers celebrate a goal vs Valour in the Canadian Championship (Photo Credit: AFTN / Tom Ewasiuk)

For them, their big victory was just making it to the Canadian Championship, knowing the opportunity it would provide to their players, as well as a chance to showcase their unique supporters-owned club. Still, at the end of the day, they want to win games, no matter how daunting the task may seem.

On the other side, however, a confident Pacific side awaits.

Fresh off a statement victory in CPL play, as they picked up a big 4-1 win on the road to Atlético Ottawa, they head into this game brimming with confidence and anticipation.

Eager to return to the semi-finals of this competition, a stage they last reached back in 2021, they know how big this opportunity is for them. Knowing that the reward for winning this match would be a home match in the next round, in which they’d either get a rematch of the 2022 quarter-finals versus York United, or a second-ever Ferryside Derby versus the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 2021 preliminary round rematch, there’s certainly a lot at stake for them here.

That should be reflected in their mentality for this game, too, as they’re expected to come out very strongly, hungry to continue what has been a relatively strong start of the season for them.

Therefore, this should make for a special matchup. An all-BC Derby, this will be a big celebration for the sport in the province off the pitch, and should be not short of entertainment on it.

All CPL and Canadian Championship matches will be broadcast live on OneSoccer, available as a linear channel on Telus’ Optik TV (Channel 980) as well as online at, through the OneSoccer app and on the fuboTV Canada platform.


  • Pacific eager to use goal outburst as springboard: It was exactly what the doctor ordered for Pacific. Sitting with just three goals in four games (all competitions) to begin the season, they managed to match that total in less than a half this past weekend, in what eventually ended up being a 4-1 drubbing of Atlético Ottawa. After some strong performances, yet little to show for it in terms of goals, it was a much-needed release for Pacific, who must’ve been starting to wonder if they’d been cursed in front of goal. Because of that, look for them to build off of that in this match. Given how relieved they looked after the goals fell for them against Ottawa, expect them to play with freedom in this game. The pressure will be on them to score in this match, given that they’re the favourites to win, but they’ll welcome that, as teams of their calibre do. With a deep front line, there are goals in this lineup, but now the next big step for them will be to find them on a more regular basis, starting with this game. “The players rewarded themselves for what they’ve been doing every day in training and what they’ve been doing in games,” Pacific’s head coach, James Merriman, noted this week. “So it was great for our team to put in that type of performance, we took a ton of confidence from that game.”
  • Little details promise to be crucial for Rovers: Often, the biggest difference between levels is attention to detail. Players at the top might not be that much faster, stronger or even more technical than players at lower levels, but their attention to little details is often what really sets them apart. That’s often reflected in matchups between teams from different levels, as underdogs usually will play up to the level, but then the difference will often be decided in key moments, such as shooting, defending and more. The Rovers understand that, however, and showed it during their upset of Valour. There, they were ruthless in front of goal, and hardly set a foot wrong defensively all game, allowing them to not just win, but do so deservedly. Their attention to detail was meticulous, and it paid off for them. Therefore, look for them to build off that in this game. Against a team of Pacific’s quality, they’ll know that any mistake they make will see them get punished. Because of that, look for them to bring a similar approach to this game. Having had a bit of a slower start to their League 1 BC season than they might’ve hoped, sitting with a loss and a draw after two weeks, they’ll look to hit the reset button for this game, returning to what they showed the last time they were in this competition. “Football is crazy,” Rovers head coach, Will Cromack, said this week. “You can have a high like we did against Valour, and you can have a low like you had this weekend (in League 1 BC), and the information to take away for the players is (the importance of) consistency.”
  • Community initiatives highlight importance of game to BC: While this is a special matchup on the pitch, this battle carries plenty of significance off it. A huge showcase for what League 1 Canada can be for players, both teams know that the impact this match will have will be felt long after the final whistle in this game. Therefore, it was big news when both teams linked up to create a special program for this game, dubbed the “Celebration of BC soccer”. There, it was announced that any Rovers fan that purchased a ticket would see a percentage of the money from that ticket go right back to the Rovers. Not only that, but they also extended that same offer to Island-based League 1 BC sides, the Victoria Highlanders and Harbourside FC, allowing fans of those teams to come out to enjoy the festivities while supporting their local teams. Along with an invitation from teams across the Island to come out to the game, they’re also using this celebration as a chance for youngsters in the community to really embrace the importance of this matchup. All-in-all, it should make for a special atmosphere off the pitch, showing what’s possible for the sport in the province. “I trained at TSS’s academy at different stages when I was 10, 11 and 12,” Merriman said. “I know the coaching staff, I know the ownership group, the people that have driven that club, and I give a lot of credit to them, because they’re in it for the right reasons, they want to grow the game in BC and across the country, and we are too with Pacific and with our ownership group, our staff and players. It’s a special night for the game in BC, so full credit to TSS for what they’ve built, and I think you got two organizations that are both in it for the right reasons, 100%”


First meeting between these sides.


“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure for us, maybe there is (externally), but for us, it’s all about our mentality. I feel really good about our group, how humble the leadership group is in our team and in our locker room, everybody understands the importance of the match. Everybody wants to progress in this competition. That’s one of our goals, we want to get back to Concacaf play, and we know the different ways we can do that. We are 100% focused on the match tomorrow, and we have a strong spirit in the team. I’m not worried about anybody underestimating this game, or TSS, I think we’re fully prepared and in the right mindset for the game.” — Pacific FC head coach, James Merriman

“I don’t know how they’re gonna play, there’s certainly a lot on their plates, some travel, their games come thick and fast for these guys, but there’s not one person in there where I go ‘I hope we play him’. There’s nobody on that team that is a weakness, there’s no weakness in their style of play, I enjoy watching it personally just as a fan. The details for us will be in our concentration. And I think that’s one of the more critical things when you talk about Canadian players improving over time, it’s their concentration, their ability to withstand stuff in Concacaf, where it can be really difficult when fans are lighting off fireworks and things like that. For us, this is a little bit of that, it won’t be that kind of environment, because we’re in Canada, but it’s definitely there’s more to deal with, more fans, more announcers, there’s more of all of these things, so concentration is critical. Can you hold out for 90 minutes with the right mentality, the right mindset and just focus on what’s needed in those moments?” — TSS Rovers head coach Will Cromack.