In this series, Steven Sandor examines the projected starting lineups of each Canadian Premier League club ahead of the 2019 CPL season.
Pacific FC is a contender in just about every pundit’s list, with a solid collection of British Columbia-born players who have proven themselves with their performances abroad, along with some very exciting prospects and a smattering of imported talent.
Coach Michael Silberbauer has said that he will build the team’s tactics around the strengths of his players; he doesn’t want to put square pegs into round holes.
Here’s how PFC could look in 2019:
Mark Village will get the chance to step into the limelight after apprentice roles at both Whitecaps FC2 and FC Cincinnati of the USL. He’s worked under former WFC2 coach Alan Koch, who moved onto Cincinnati — so there’s a solid connection between the Pacific Coast and southern Ohio.
When Canadian national team veteran Marcel de Jong went down with a season-ending Achilles injury, the question was, ‘who would take that spot at left back?’ The answer looks to be Blake Smith, on loan from FC Cincinnati (there’s that connection to Koch again). Smith has NASL and USL experience, so Pacific has found a reliable replacement. We’ll also be fascinated to watch six-foot-two German centre back Hendrik Starostzik; he should provide veteran stability.
Noah Verhoeven’s profile (in Canada, at least) increased when the dual citizen decided to move away from the American program, where he’d played as a youth international, to the Canadian one. Depending on the formation Silberbauer employs, look for Verhoeven to regularly join the attack and draw attention away from target man Marcus Haber. And Ben Fisk adds multiple dimensions off the wing; he can get past fullbacks and cross balls in for the target man. But, from what we saw in his time at FC Edmonton, what he loves to do is come off the wing, dash to a central position and shoot. Fisk’s versatility forces defenders to make decisions; do they drift with him or try to force him outside?
Marcus Haber is one of the highest profile signings so far in CPL. He’s a veteran of Scottish football, where powerful forwards are admired. If the likes of Fisk and Verhoeven can force defences to get out of their compact shapes — and give Haber lots of one-v-one battles to win in the box — this could be a goal-filled season for the B.C. native.
Issey Nakajima-Farran is a known commodity up top; his versatility should offer Pacific plenty of options in multiple positions.