Lukas MacNaughton, known over three seasons as Pacific FC’s most reliable and staunch defender, is described by head coach Pa-Modou Kah as the “best centre-back in the league.”
MacNaughton is also proving to have a sneaky offensive bent. He moved up to score in injury time, in the 92nd minute off a corner kick, to salvage a 1-1 Canadian Premier League draw against FC Edmonton on Tuesday night at Clark Stadium in the Alberta capital. MacNaughton also did the same last year in injury time in a game to earn a draw for PFC.
“On set pieces, Lukas is very dangerous,” said Kah.
“I am up on every corner kick. It’s about getting bodies in the box,” said MacNaughton.
“It [goal] doesn’t always happen. But I think we created a bunch of chances tonight. We’re in first place for reason. We’re never satisfied with a point. We’re looking for three points all the time.”
Island-based PFC leads the CPL at 10-3-5 but the Eddies (in seventh place at 4-8-6) have played the Tridents tough with two draws in three games. But PFC turned it up a level in the second half Tuesday and finally broke through on its 11th corner kick of the game.
“Overall, we controlled the game,” said PFC head coach Kah.
“We showed great resilience and character. Even down 0-1, we were going for the win. Basically, there was one team playing.”
Even though FC Edmonton was clearly trying to protect its lead, that last remark did not sit well with Eddies head coach Alan Koch when informed of it following the game.
“That’s a disrespectful comment,” said Koch.
“Different teams play in different ways. PFC is a step ahead of us at the moment. We are working hard to narrow the gap. We were so close once again.”
The exchange of comments was startling in that Koch was formerly head coach of FC Cincinnati in MLS with Kah as his assistant coach and the two are very friendly.
Meanwhile, PFC has done a lot of things well this season. Tracking Easton Ongaro hasn’t been one of them. The six-foot-six FC Edmonton striker, who is hard to miss on the pitch, scored his league tied-for-second seventh goal of the season and third against PFC. Former Germany U-19 player and Dortmund prospect Tobias Warschewski, dribbling down the right side, found Ongaro with a perfectly-laid centering pass at 57 minutes for the opening goal of the game.
Ongaro, a University of Alberta Golden Bears product, is one of two key hometown players on FC Edmonton. The other is Eddies captain Shamit Shome, who has two caps for Canada and who played in Major League Soccer with Montreal Impact from 2017 to 2020,
Pacific FC will return home to meet last-place Atletico Ottawa on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Starlight Stadium.