Marco Bustos of Pacific FC lost to Kyle Bekker of Forge FC for 2020 Canadian Premier League MVP during the online awards ceremony Thursday evening, but he handed PFC a big victory in other ways by indicating he will re-sign with the Island-based club for 2021.
“The plan is to sign with PFC,” said Bustos, who has been capped six times for Canada.
“I’ve been happy on the Island. The team care for me and that’s a big plus.”
But this is pro soccer. The re-signing is predicated on a better offer in a higher league, such as in Europe or the MLS, not coming along before 2021. PFC signed Bustos as a free agent after he scored seven goals in 25 games in 2019 for his hometown Winnipeg Valour FC.
Bustos, 24, scored a sizzling five goals and added three assists for PFC in 10 games in the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 CPL season played in a bubble in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
“It was a testament to the hard work in the months leading up to the CPL tournament,” said the attacking midfielder, who made a combined 14 appearances for Canada at the under-17 and U-20 levels.
“It was not an easy year. It was about staying focused through tough times.”
That is exactly what he did in being named finalist for CPL MVP with the 18-time Canada-capped Forge FC captain Bekker and Akeem Garcia, Golden Boot winner with six goals, of the HFX Wanderers of Halifax.
“To be recognized as one of the three best players in the league is a top honour,” said Bustos.
“But it doesn’t stop there. The goal is to be better next year.”
He gave a shout-out to the MVP Bekker.
“Kyle Bekker is a great player,” said Bustos.
“[CPL-champion] Forge FC has exceeded expectations and made it to the CONCACAF club quarter-finals and put the CPL on the map in CONCACAF. You don’t do that without a leader and Bekker is that leader for Forge.”
Those are the heights to which PFC is also aspiring.
“We are building off this season’s tournament [in which PFC made the four-team playoff round in Charlottetown],” said Bustos.
“With its previous signings, PFC has kept consistency with the roster heading into 2021 and that’s exciting.”
Bustos already had familiarity with PFC players such as Kadin Chung, Matthew Baldisimo and Victor Blasco because they came up together in the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS Academy program.
“We knew each other’s tendencies and it made the transition easier for me this year,” said Bustos.
Bustos has made his intentions known that there will be more of that to come in 2021, whatever it looks like.
“This year was crazy, and no one knows what’s coming in 2021. Hopefully, it’s a full season back in our own stadiums with fans allowed in to watch live.”
Callum Irving of PFC was among the three nominees for CPL goalkeeper of the year with the Golden Glove award going to Triston Henry of Forge FC. Mohamed Farsi of Cavalry FC of Calgary was named best Canadian U-21 player.
Former Canadian national team mentor Stephen Hart of HFX was named coach of the year for taking the Halifax club from last in 2019 to the 2020 championship game.