Pacific FC loses star Marcel de Jong to injury

Pacific FC CEO and general manager Rob Friend has described the season-ending injury to 56-time Canada-capped Marcel de Jong as a “massive loss.”

The left-back, who came to Pacific FC after three seasons in the MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps, was injured in a pre-season practice Wednesday on the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence turf pitch in Saanich. The club said de Jong had successful surgery Friday to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

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“Recovery time is variable for this type of injury,” said Randy Celebrini, director of sports science for Pacific FC.

“But he will likely not return to play this season.”

De Jong, 32, played six seasons for FC Augsburg of the German Bundesliga and four seasons for top-level Eredivisie club Roda JC in the Netherlands. He was considered a marquee signing for not only Pacific FC, but the Canadian Premier League as a whole.

The CPL is the long-awaited Canadian domestic pro soccer league. Island-based Pacific FC is among seven founding franchises, which begin play this year.

“Marcel was our most experienced player and this is a huge blow,” said Friend.

“He is going to be missed on the pitch. We will support him in his recovery. He will play a role off the pitch and bring that leadership. On the pitch, replacing someone of that quality will be difficult. That process has begun and we believe there is quality out there.”

Friend said de Jong went up for a header during a training camp session Wednesday at PISE and a player landed on his back when coming down, and de Jong’s Achilles went.

“There is nothing we can do about it. It’s one of those freak accidents,” Friend said.

The situation brought back bitter memories for Pacific FC president Josh Simpson of Victoria, whose own pro club and Canadian international career ended at 29 with a leg break in three places while playing in the Swiss Premiership for the Young Boys of Bern.

“This is something that happens in football and I know it better than most. We try to do everything we can to prevent injuries, but it’s part and parcel of pro sports. That’s the nature of it,” said the 43-time capped Simpson.

“It’s terrible news for Marcel and for us. We are with him all the way and want to see him back to the pitch as soon as possible in his career.”

The first game in Pacific FC franchise history will be played April 28 at Westhills Stadium in Langford against HFX Wanderers of Halifax.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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