YORK UNITED 0
PACIFIC FC 0
The stiff wind sweeping across the Greater Toronto Area on Saturday played havoc with the ball in a scoreless Canadian Premier League draw between Pacific FC and host York United.
“It was tough with the wind,” said York United head coach and Victoria-product Martin Nash, the former Whitecaps pro and CONCACAF Gold Cup champion capped 38 times for Canada.
“They [PFC] had a lot of possession but didn’t do anything with it.”
That was not an assessment PFC head coach James Merriman quibbled with. “For the first time in a while we were back on the ball, possessing and building, but the final piece didn’t come,” Merriman said.
The Tridents (5-3-4 in wins, losses, draws) are winless in six games, including two league losses, three league draws and a loss on penalty kicks to York United in a Canadian Championship quarter-final that denied PFC a semifinal date Wednesday at B.C. Place against the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.
“A win against the Whitecaps would be massive and open a lot of eyes,” Nash said of his team’s next game.
It is something the Tridents accomplished last year at Starlight Stadium in beating the Whitecaps and Nash also did in 2019 with a victory over the Whitecaps when he was assistant coach with Cavalry FC of the CPL.
Although rolling along at 2-0 in the Canadian Championship, York United fell to 2-4-5 in league play and haven’t scored since the 2-2 regulation draw against PFC, decided on penalties, in the Canadian Championship quarter-final.
“There seems to be a lid on the opposing goal but we’ve managed two draws in those four [scoreless] games,” said Nash. “We’re not flowing as much as we’d like but we’re not giving away chances to anyone.”
That includes Saturday as PFC was held to two shots on net. But coming off last week’s 3-0 loss in Hamilton to Forge FC, the defending league-champion Tridents will take the point.
This was PFC’s third consecutive trip back east in three weeks, which began with the late 2-1 loss in Ottawa against Atletico, last week’s drubbing in Hamilton and concluding with the draw Saturday in the GTA.
“It’s a lot for the players, and not easy on them, but that’s the reality of the country and the league,” said Merriman.
“The third trip east was not easy on the group but the energy was good and we started on the front foot and were ready to play. But we didn’t create enough in the final third [of the pitch].”
Canada-capped PFC captain Jamar Dixon said: “It’s just those little extra inches you need to get a result. It’s not the be-all or end-all but just a little patch we’re going through. If we keep working hard, we can get back to being ourselves.”
Missing from game were strikers Kamron Habibullah of PFC and Lowell Wright of York United. But that was a positive thing. It shows the CPL is doing what it was intended to do. Habibullah and Wright are two of the six CPL players with Canada in the CONCACAF U-20 qualifier in Honduras for four berths into the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia and two berths into the 2024 Paris Olympics. (Canada opened with a 1-0 loss against Cuba on Saturday).
“That’s the whole point of the CPL, to progress players onto the national team program, and it’s great for the league,” said Nash.
CORNER KICKS: Emerging PFC-striker Gianni dos Santos returned to the line-up Saturday after earning his first cap last week as he and his Cape Verde national side played tough in a 1-0 loss to 2022 Qatar World Cup-bound Ecuador in Miami … The breadth of the country will again be highlighted when the HFX Wanderers of Halifax come to Starlight Stadium next Saturday to play PFC in a match-up which features among the top-five distances travelled in the world by teams to play a domestic Premiership fixture.