Pacific FC: 2019 season in review

It was a season of ups and downs for Pacific FC, from the highs of earning the  first-ever CPL victory to the lows of a three-game scoreless streak in May. It was always about the youth movement on the West Coast; co-owners Josh Simpson and Rob Friend made that clear from the club’s first signing in 21-year-old Kadin Chung. At times, that inexperience cost them, though; the club allowed more shots on goal than any CPL opponent. Other times? It led to moments of brilliance (See: Terran Campbell’s goal-scoring run, or Zach Verhoven with the ball at his feet).

The highly-touted veterans disappointed – that part cannot be sugar-coated. Blame injury, in some instances: Marcel de Jong missed all but two of the final three matches; Marcus Haber never seemed quite healthy; ankle issues troubled Issey Nakajima-Farran. All three should find no shortage of motivation entering 2020, proving the hype they brought with them was more than just flash.

There was coach Michael Silberbauer’s dismissal – that part can’t be forgotten, either. Someone had to answer for the club’s middling results. But there were also moments when everything seemed to align at Westhills Stadium, and one could imagine the club was onto something even if it wasn’t yet fully realized. Here’s Pacific FC’s 2019 Year in Review.

RELATED READING: Pacific FC: 3 key performers of 2019

The story of the season

We have to begin with Marcel de Jong’s Achilles, don’t we? The league’s most high-profile signing, he was injured before the season even began. There would be more injuries to Pacific’s roster — oh, so many injuries. For a spell, the centre-back situation was so dire that Silberbauer threw defensive midfielder Matthew Baldisimo into the mix.

Five games into the CPL’s Spring season, the pressure was starting to build among the Pacific FC faithful: when would the club’s much-hyped duo of Marcus Haber and Ben Fisk make their mark? Though there had been chances, neither managed to score. And then the dam burst at home to York9 FC: first Haber, and then Fisk in the 42nd minute, to give Pacific a 2-0 lead. (A lead they would go on to squander in a 2-2 draw. Again, a season of ups and downs.)

Pacific’s hopes of a Canadian Championship clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps were dashed – delayed, anyway, for another season. Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s Cavs were too much in Round 1. The two-legged series with Cavalry did introduce the league to newcomer Alexander Gonzalez, though, a name Pacific FC fans wouldn’t soon forget, nor would opponents (and referees).

Pacific FC's Victor Blasco (23) and Terran Campbell celebrates goals over HFX at Westhills Stadium. (Photo: Pacific FC).
Pacific FC’s Victor Blasco (23) and Terran Campbell celebrates goals over HFX at Westhills Stadium. (Photo: Pacific FC).

June and July was another story for Pacific: The Terran Campbell and Victor Blasco Show. In one seven-match run, the two combined for 11 goals and two assists. On Canada Day, in the midst of the streak, Pacific surprised Spring champion Cavalry FC 3-1. Even 18-year-old Ahmed Alghamdi got in on the moment, scoring in his club debut.

September brought the Whitecaps’ David Norman Jr. on loan to Pacific — a move that, though it may not have yielded any change in the standings, set the tone for competition the club was hoping to achieve. Norman started in all but two of PFC’s final nine matches and left for Inter Miami as a fan favourite on the island.

The final match of the season could have gone one of two ways for Pacific. With Silberbauer sacked, the club might have fumbled their last home game and ended in greater uncertainty. But Friend and Simpson’s coaching gamble paid off: Against Valour FC, goals from Zach Verhoven and Ben Fisk gave the fans at Westhills one last memory to carry with them into the off-season.

Pacific FC’s Top 5 goals from 2019

End-of-season stat sheet

Pacific FC dominated in the minutes played stat for U-21 players, but how did the club fare across the board? Here’s a rundown:

  • Record (W-D-L): 8-7-13 (CPL), 8-7-15 (all comps.)
  • Goals scored: 35 (CPL), 36 (all comps.)
  • Goals against: 46 (CPL), 50 (all comps.)
  • Goal Difference: -11 (CPL), -14 (all comps.)
  • Top scorer: Terran Campbell (11)
  • Assist leader: Blake Smith (5)
  • Home wins: 6 of 15 (all comps.)

Quote-worthy Quips

“He shoots, and he just hits the net. We’ve started to call him the Canadian Hulk. He can hold up plays and plays smart. Even though he doesn’t have the height, he has the strength.” – Issey Nakajima-Farran, talking about Terran Campbell before the season began.

“I’m a leader on this team, and I’m taking that on with great pride, but I’m also learning how that role is slightly different from (before). A lot of my career, I’ve spent as a young player just trying to make it and get a new contract, find a new team.” – Ben Fisk on embracing his newfound responsibility.

“These players need to understand that their jobs are on the line every year, every game, every practice. So if you’re not working, if you’re not performing, the next guy’s in line. Making sure that players aren’t complacent is important in creating a culture. Because in Europe, your job is on the line every single day, and I don’t think (we) fully understand that in Canada.” – Rob Friend after Pacific’s firing of Michael Silberbauer.

Most memorable moment

History made on Vancouver Island as Pacific FC gets its first win in the Canadian Premier League.

CCL! Final Thoughts: Pacific FC’s 2019 Season

Centre Circle LIVE! is joined by Martin Bauman from Vancouver Island to talk Pacific FC’s 2019 campaign.

Your photo of the year

Pacific FC players huddle before playing their first Canadian Premier League match. (James MacDonald/CPL).
Trust the kids … ‘cuz the kids? They’re alright. (James MacDonald/CPL).