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Pacific FC faces two big games in a short amount of time

PFC hosts Atletico Ottawa on Saturday
Amer Didic and Pacific FC host Atletico Ottawa on Saturday. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

Ten days off couldn’t have come at a better time for Pacific FC because up next are two of the biggest games of the season.

Today, Pacific FC faces a showdown with fellow top-three club Atletico Ottawa at Starlight Stadium. The 2 p.m. match features two teams tied for third place in the standings with 9-4-5 (wins-losses-draws) records, both just three points back of Canadian Premier League leaders Forge FC (11-5-2), who lost 2-1 to second-place Cavalry FC (10-6-4) on Friday night.

But on the horizon for the Tridents is a CONCACAF League Round of 16 first-leg match on Tuesday night at Starlight ­Stadium against Costa Rican club CS Herediano.

“Indeed it’s a busy few days for us with back-to-back big games,” Pacific FC head coach James Merriman said Friday.

“But right now we are soley focused on the match at hand, which is against Ottawa. When we’re done that, we swicth our focus to the next game. But right now, we are taking it one game at a time and Ottawa is going to be a real good test for our club.”

Atletico Ottawa is coming off a 2-1 victory last week over FC Edmonton with talented striker Ballou Tabla scoring both goals.

With the week and half break since Pacific FC’s last game, a 6-0 CONCACAF League victory over Jamaican side Waterhouse FC that sent PFC through to the Round of 16, Merriman’s club is healthy and rarin’ to go.

“We’ve recovered well and knowing we have two games kind of back to back, the guys have been looking after their bodies and we’ve had good training sesssions and are ready to go,” he said.

Pacific FC hits this tough stretch without the services of leading scorer Alejandro Diaz, who was transfered to Norwegian side Sogndal earlier this week. Also sent out was veteran midfielder Matthew Balidisimo, who was loaned to York United. And with newly-acquired skilled midfielder Cedric Toussaint not available until Tuesday at the earliest, it’s going to be up to veterans like Josh Heard and Marco Bustos to keep the young squad in high gear.

“We expect Cedric to fit in nicely in a No. 6 (midfield) role when he’s ready, but right now we have everyone else available for Saturday and we’ll put the strongest team possible on the field to try to get the three points,” Merriman said.