Healthy Pacific FC picking up steam

Pacific FC has a situation it hasn’t seen in a while.

The Canadian Premier League club has something approaching a full bench heading into tonight’s game in Calgary against Cavalry FC.

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“A full roster gives you more options and that’s good,” said Pacific FC striker Terran Campbell.

That’s not something PFC has had much of in an injury-scarred inaugural CPL season.

“I’ve been on team with more injuries but with bigger squads [rosters],” said PFC striker Marcus Haber, who has played pro up to the Premiership in Scotland.

“But when you have 18 players [on smaller CPL rosters], and two or three go down, it can change the whole season.”

Haber has been among the casualties. The 30-year-old forward has been back for three games after missing seven games with a knee injury. The 27-time Canada capped veteran scored both goals in PFC’s 2-1 come-from-behind victory on Saturday over Valour FC of Winnipeg at Westhills Stadium.

Pacific FC is 3-1-1 in its last five games after a 0-3 start to the fall season (3-4-1). Tonight will prove a swing game in many ways against the CPL spring champion Cavalry, which beat the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS this season in Canadian Championship play. Cavalry only suffered its first defeat of the fall campaign (4-1-3) Sunday when it was beaten 1-0 by Forge FC of Hamilton, which vaulted into first place over the Calgary club.

“The team is confident and morale is high,” said Haber, about PFC crossing the Rockies for today’s fixture.

“It’s just about keeping focused and being up for a battle. Calvary are a very physical team, and they play pretty direct.

Being disciplined and organized will be important. If we do that, we’re confident we can score goals against anyone.”

Haber proved Saturday he certainly can. As has Campbell this season, who leads the race for the inaugural CPL Golden Boot with eight goals.

“[Campbell] is a physical specimen,” said Haber, who is one himself at six-foot-four.

“He’s linked up. If he’s not scoring, he’s holding up the ball well.”

The 20-year-old Campbell is part of the Pacific FC youth brigade. Each CPL team must give at least three U-21 players a combined 1,000 minutes of regular-season playing time. The final two teams, Cavalry and FC Edmonton, finally crossed that threshold last weekend. PFC did so long ago and has every other team blown away with 9,019 minutes of playing time to its rising cadre of nine U-21 players. That compares with 3,905 minutes for the HFX Wanderers of Halifax, 2,743 for York9 of Toronto, 2,350 for Forge FC, 1,831 for Valour FC, 1,090 for Cavalry and 1,024 for FC Edmonton.

Five PFC players each have more than 1,000 minutes of field time this season. Campbell is at 1,482, Noah Verhoeven at 1,419, Matthew Baldisimo at 1,403, Kadin Chung at 1,161 and Alessandro Hojabrpour at 1,029.

But missing tonight in Calgary will be Baldisimo for incurring two yellow cards, which equalled a red, Saturday against Valour. Not to worry, there appears to be plenty of other young talent in purple to pick up the slack. Combined with finally a fairly healthy bench.

“We have shown we are capable of doing good things and go into Calgary looking to pick up one there,” said Campbell.

Cavalry leads the season series against PFC 3-1, including two games in the Canadian Championship tournament.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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