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Pacific FC finds a way past FC Edmonton

There were no style points awarded. But three points are still three points in the standings. Pacific FC did just enough to gain a 2-1 Canadian Premier League victory over FC Edmonton before 3,445 fans Saturday at Starlight Stadium.
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Pacific FC’s Jamar Dixon kicks the ball away from FC Edmonton’s Marcus Simmons during CPL action at Starlight Stadium on Saturday. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

There were no style points awarded. But three points are still three points in the standings.

Pacific FC did just enough to gain a 2-1 Canadian Premier League victory over FC Edmonton before 3,445 fans Saturday at Starlight Stadium.

“We lacked a bit of quality today for whatever reason,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.

“We do need to be more clinical. But we’ll take the result. Getting the three points was the most important thing.”

The Island club did just that in controlling most of the play in moving to 5-1-1 atop the CPL table. The last-place Eddies remained winless with three draws and four losses.

Kunle Dada-Luke, a bit player last season, continued his growth and was named PFC man of the match. “I was a role player who has established himself as a starter and I want to be one of the best backs in the league,” said the former Canada U-17 player.

But position descriptions don’t do Dada-Luke’s game justice. His non-stop engine carries him all over the field.

“They [Eddies] kept pushing but I like how we stuck to our game plan,” said Dada-Luke, 22, whose purple head band reads “KDL13,” indicating his initials and number.

“We have [lapses] sometimes but we have character and we battle and that is why we get the results.”

Former Liga MX pro Alejandro Diaz kicked in a scrambly goal at 10 minutes as the former Mexico U-20 and U-23 player scored his league-leading fifth goal of the season. Josh Heard guided home a ball expertly rolled in by Manny Aparicio to make it 2-0 at 62 minutes. The host team’s second goal would be needed as Wesley Timoteo headed home a corner for the Eddies at 73 minutes.

FC Edmonton has been taken over by the CPL after the former owners ran into financial distress operating the club. The CPL is searching for new ownership. Until then, the Eddies are mostly stocked by loaned developmental players from the other seven CPL clubs, including two players on loan from Toronto FC of MLS. Among the loaned players is midfielder Simon Triantafillou from PFC, out of NCAA Div. 1 Providence College, and named the Eddies man of the match Saturday.

“Everybody knows the limitations we are under,” said FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch.

“But we are hard working and try to get what we can out of each game. It’s the most difficult job in the league. But I am proud of my team. We believe in the Canadian product and giving young Canadians a chance to play. We started four U-21 players today, one U-18 player and had three U-18s on the bench. We are young and immature at times and have been in some tough places to play on the road. But the character in our group is immense.”

Koch noted the discrepancy in Edmonton soccer — the huge crowds at frigid Commonwealth Stadium over the winter that helped elevate Canada to the 2022 World Cup — followed by the Eddies troubles at the club level.

“We don’t need the national team to see that Edmonton is a great soccer community,” said Koch. He said he believes the sport can be rebuilt there at the club level.

“I believe it’s an absolute gold mine.”

He pointed to the atmosphere Saturday at Starlight Stadium: “That is [our] dream, too. We long for it and is what we are working incredibly hard for in Edmonton.”

PFC next plays Friday against York United at Starlight Stadium.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com