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Pacific FC set to face new York United coach

CPL game goes Wednesday in Toronto area
Max Ferrari and Josh Heard will be battling again on Wednesday in the Toronto area. VIA PACIFIC FC

One of the oldest adages in sports is that coaches are hired to be fired. Victoria-raised Martin Nash found that out last month when he was dismissed as head coach of York United in the Canadian Premier League.

The St. Michaels University School Blue Jags soccer and basketball graduate and former Vancouver Whitecaps pro, who won the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup and had 38 caps for Canada, was at the York United helm since 2021 and went 25-29-13 in wins-losses-draws across all competitions.

York United (4-4-2 in league), which meets Pacific FC (4-2-4) today at 4 p.m. PT in Toronto, has a win and a draw under new head coach Benjamin Mora, who has coached Atlas of Liga MX and took Johor Darul Ta’zim to the 2021 Malaysian Super League championship.

“Having in mind that we are very, very close to MLS, like a good league that has been expanding. I guess the Canadian League is on that way, and I’m happy to be here,” said Mexico City-native Mora, in his introductory media conference this month in Toronto.

“The philosophy is, of course, trying to win games based on a game of ball possession. A culture is built by habits, by patterns of behaviour. It’s daily-basis work.”

PFC will need to be wary of an energized York United side coming off a 2-1 victory over first-place Atletico Ottawa thanks in large part to the ­stellar goalkeeping of Thomas ­Vincensini.

PFC, meanwhile, will again go with third-string goalkeeper Daniel Zadravec as top two goalkeepers Emil Gazdov and Sean Melvin remain out with illness and an ankle injury, respectively.

PFC head coach James Merriman said he didn’t sense a trace of nervousness in reserve-goalkeeper a Zadravec as the 24-year-old made his first career CPL start in last week’s 3-2 victory in Winnipeg over Valour FC.

“Daniel trains in our environment on a regular basis. When you work hard and your opportunity comes, you will be ready,” said Merriman, of the Island Wave and Reynolds Secondary soccer academy product, who played U Sports for the UNBC Timberwolves, and was a Canada West second-team all-star.

“Daniel was great and he deserved the win,” said PFC midfielder Sean Young, of Zadravec’s pro debut last week in Winnipeg.

Zadravec will be backed-up today by University of Victoria Vikes starting goalkeeper Callum Weir, a 20-year-old from the Yukon, who was also named to the Canadian team for the CONCACAF Futsal Championship.

Both Zadravec and Weir will be dressed today under CPL short-term replacement contracts.

Meanwhile, if anyone needed anymore proof that it has been Pacific FC’s defence and midfield that has carried the club this season, they only need look at this week’s CPL Gatorade Team of the Week.

The selections feature PFC defender Eric Lajeunesse, the UBC Thunderbirds player who shows the value of the CPL’s U Sports draft every time he steps on the pitch, midfielder Steffen Yeates, again crucial in the win over Valour FC in Winnipeg after just returning from representing Trinidad and Tobago in CONCACAF 2026 World Cup qualifying, and hometown Victoria-product Young, a rising young pro who could be the poster boy for why the CPL was created.

CORNER KICKS: The Okanagan came out to show it could be a viable CPL market as the scoreless draw last weekend between Cavalry FC and Vancouver FC in Kelowna drew 6,281 fans to the Apple Bowl.

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