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Pacific FC hopes to fend off Cavalry's charge

Pa Modou-Kah compared it to a kind of a sibling rivalry. “It’s like the little brother testing the big brother,” said the Pacific FC head coach. “Cavalry FC, along with Forge FC, have been the standard carriers for the Canadian Premier League.
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Pacific FC defender Kadin Chung, left,and Cavalry FC’s Victor Loturi will renew acquaintances Friday at Starlight Stadium. TONY LEWIS, CANADIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

Pa Modou-Kah compared it to a kind of a sibling rivalry.

“It’s like the little brother testing the big brother,” said the Pacific FC head coach.

“Cavalry FC, along with Forge FC, have been the standard carriers for the Canadian Premier League.”

Now PFC wants a bigger serving at the family dinner table. And so far this season has been getting it. The Island-based upstart (7-2-4) sits atop the CPL table, four points clear of ­Cavalry (6-3-3), although the ­Calgary club has a game in hand.

The clubs meet this evening at 6:30 at Starlight Stadium.

“I enjoy the match-up. I have huge respect for what [Cavalry head coach Tommy ­Wheeldon Jr.] has done in ­building ­Foothills FC [in the PDL] and now Cavalry,” said Kah.

“Tommy is a fierce competitor who wants to win. So do I. We have a lot of respect for each other.”

PFC has a win and draw this season against Cavalry FC but the Calgarians still hold a 5-2-2 advantage in all-time ­match-ups. That’s an indication of how ­Cavalry has been the most consistent club in the first two seasons of CPL history behind two-time champion Forge FC of Hamilton, Ont.

“And now Cavalry is getting players back from injury,” said a wary Kah. “We are anticipating a great game.”

Cavalry FC is coming off a 2-0 victory Sunday over host FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium in the latest edition of the Al Classico Alberta derby with former PFC midfielder Ben Fisk scoring one of the goals. It was a first-round Canadian Championship game and not a league game. Cavalry FC advanced to meet the winner of the first-round game between PFC and the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer next Thursday at Starlight Stadium.

“Obviously, everyone is talking about our game against the Whitecaps but we have to take care of business [tonight] versus Cavalry to create separation in the table,” said Kah.

Cavalry FC turned heads in 2019, for themselves and the CPL, when they beat the ­Whitecaps in their Canadian Championship match-up.

“We worry about ourselves and our team, with all due respect to the opposition,” said Kah.

“We have our own way of playing. We are happy where we are but we believe there’s more in this group. Every single day we are working to get better.”

Kah has many offensive weapons at his disposal. Marco Bustos is tied for the league lead in goals with five while Alejandro Diaz is tied for second with four and Terran Campbell is coming on with three goals in the last five games. Bustos leads the league in assists with four while Manny Aparicio’s precisely-executed two assists in the 2-0 victory Monday in Winnipeg against Valour FC were the plays of the week so far. Even the PFC defenders are forward moving with Lukas MacNaughton leading the CPL with 996 passes, Abdoulaye Samake second with 785 and Kadin Chung tied for fourth with 629.

It’s easy to go unnoticed amid this attacking group but forward Josh Heard’s contributions are being recognized. The Whitecaps MLS draft pick and hometown Victoria product, out of the NCAA Pac-12 University of Washington Huskies, has three goals.

“We call Josh The Ginger and ginger’s have fire,” said Kah.

“Josh is from the Island, and that means a lot to him to be playing here and he doesn’t take it for granted, and works hard and never takes a day off. He’s a non-verbal leader. Everything he does, you see it on the pitch.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com