Pacific FC signs star midfielder Manny Aparicio

The shot taken in the Canadian Premier League soccer game in 2019 is probably imprinted in Nolan Wirth’s memory. Manny Aparicio’s net-seeking howitzer from well out for York9, that beat the Pacific FC goalkeeper, was brilliant enough to make ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10.

PFC goalkeepers can rest easy. They will only be ­facing Aparicio’s shots now in ­practice sessions. PFC signed the Canada-capped free-agent midfielder on Friday in what is described as a multi-year deal. “He was captain of York 9, so he is a leader on the pitch,” said PFC president and co-owner Josh Simpson.

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“And he is simply a ­clinical finisher, especially on set pieces. He is a huge asset and a big addition for us.”

Simpson added no recruiting was required.

“We’re lucky he actually reached out to us,” said Simpson, a former pro capped 43 times for Canada.

“It speaks to what we are doing and building at PFC, that we were his first choice.”

Aparicio represented ­Canada at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and had 10 appearances for Canada in Under-18 internationals, 18 appearances for the Under-20 national team and 10 appearances in Under-23. Aparicio has five goals in 38 games for Canada at the youth levels. He earned his lone senior national team cap in 2014 against Colombia.

The 25-year-old native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was raised in Ontario, where he joined the Toronto FC Academy in 2010, and went through the system to sign with the TFC Major League Soccer club in 2013 as a 17-year-old before scoring two goals in 21 appearances for TFC II up to 2015. Aparicio then played pro in Spain for SD Ordenes, CD Izarra and CD San Roque de Lepe. He had four goals in 31 appearances for York9 in the first two seasons of CPL history in 2019 and 2020.

“I looked at the last two seasons of PFC and the club seemed like the right fit for me in terms of style and mentality,” said Aparicio, via a Zoom recording provided by the club.

“It’s the right time to take that next step in my career. I am willing to help out the club in any way.”

PFC head coach Pa-Modou Kah is pleased to gain such a creative and versatile performer: “He’s young, he’s Canadian and he wants to win. That’s our mentality.”

PFC placed third in the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 CPL season played in a bubble in Charlottetown, P.E.I. The club believes Aparicio is the ignition link that can lift it to the next level and a championship.

“This is a huge statement for us across the league, just as signing [2020 CPL MVP finalist] Marco Bustos was last season,” said Pacific FC’s CEO, GM and co-owner Rob Friend.

“It shows we are ambitious and want to win a championship,” added Friend, the former Bundesliga pro, capped 32 times for Canada.

“Manny Aparicio fits the way we play and our overall package. We had a gap at offensive midfield and he fills that role and is a big piece of the offensive portion of our club. You see how Forge FC has gotten results in ­CONCACAF playdowns [the two-time CPL champions from Hamilton have beaten Limeno of El Salvador and Tauro of Panama to reach the quarter-finals]. We want to get to that standard. We are a few pieces away.”

One of those pieces is now filled by Aparicio, who became the sixth player signed by PFC for 2021. Announced earlier were Jordan Haynes and 19-year-old hometown Victoria product Sean Young, both surprise breakout performers for PFC in the 2020 CPL tournament in Charlottetown, and returnees Josh Heard of Victoria, Matthew Baldisimo and captain and 56-time Canada capped Marcel de Jong.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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