The luck of the random lottery draw was not kind to Pacific FC, which drew the second-to-last slot in today’s Canadian Premier League draft of U Sports soccer players in Vancouver.
Pacific FC will be the sixth team to select a player among the seven charter franchises in the CPL, which is the new Canadian professional league, set to begin operations with its inaugural season in April.
Pacific FC will play at a revamped Westhills Stadium in Langford.
“It would have been nice to have gone first, but we can't control it, and have to play the hand we have been dealt in the draft,” said Pacific FC president Josh Simpson.
“It’s like drawing straws.”
Cavalry FC of Calgary was drawn first, Valour FC of Winnipeg second, Forge FC of Hamilton, Ont., third, York 9 FC of the Greater Toronto Area fourth, HFX Wanderers FX of Halifax fifth, Pacific FC sixth and FC Edmonton seventh.
The second round will go in reverse order with Edmonton FC selecting eighth overall and Pacific FC ninth overall and so on.
The draft will go three rounds with Pacific FC’s final selection being 20th overall.
Top U Sports prospects include Daniel Pritchard of the Cape Breton Capers, Dylan Carreiro of the York Lions, Jace Kotsopoulos of the Guelph Gryphons, Gabriel Bitar of the Carleton Ravens and Frédéric Lajoie-Gravelle of the Montreal Carabins.
The University of Victoria Vikes’ freshman sensation, Matteo Ventura, who scored 10 goals in his rookie season out of Reynolds Secondary, might also draw interest. So might Isaac Koch, despite the Vikes standout missing all of this season due to injury.
Also in the draft mix could be Cory Bent, Marcus Campanile and Peter Schaale, who helped lead Cape Breton to the 2017 U Sports title, and again to the 2018 national championship game on Sunday in Vancouver, only to lose to the Carabins on a goal by Lajoie-Gravelle.
Bent, Campanile and Schaale, all foreign imports, played last summer for the Victoria Highlanders of the amateur Premier Development League. Stuart Heath of the Capers, another import, played for the Highlanders in 2017.
The CPL will not have an import cap, but a minimum of six Canadians, and a maximum of five imports, will be allowed on the pitch at any time.
The U Sports draft, which takes place this morning in Vancouver, was made possible due to a unique CPL-U Sports development contract that will allow players to retain their university eligibility if they appear in CPL training camps or games. It also guarantees the U Sports players will be returned to their university teams in late August before the start of the university season. The CPL schedule will run from April to October, so the U Sports players will only be of limited use. Yet, it’s the opportunity it presents that is the big story in Canadian soccer.
“This is a huge breakthrough for the sport of soccer in Canada. Before, players had to make a decision on either to focus on university and their academic careers or to focus on a pro career. Now they can do both,” said Simpson, a Juan de Fuca product and former European pro, who was capped 43 times for Canada.