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Pacific FC strikes early for key CPL victory over FC Edmonton

Pacific FC's Georges Mukumbilwa plays the ball during Friday’s game against FC Edmonton. PACIFIC FC


Pacific FC scored early but not often Friday night. Marco Bustos’ goal in the first minute turned out to be enough in a 1-0 Canadian Premier League soccer victory over FC Edmonton before 4,107 fans at Starlight Stadium.

It was a crucial result in the last regular-season home date for the Tridents before concluding on the road Wednesday against Forge FC in Hamilton, Ont., and next Saturday in Calgary against Cavalry FC.

PFC (12-7-7) moved into second place, two points behind leading Atletico Ottawa, and two points ahead of Forge FC and Cavalry FC.

The Tridents are six points ahead of fifth-place Valour FC of Winnipeg. PFC can clinch a playoff berth with a Valour FC loss or draw Sunday in Calgary against Cavalry.

“Now we have the chance to push for the regular-season title,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.

The two-legged playoff semifinals, matching the first versus fourth seeds and second versus third seeds, are Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The CPL championship game will be played Oct. 29 at the home of the higher seed.

The Eddies (3-16-8 in wins-losses-draws) are in last place but are a feisty group and were not an easy out.

“Give them credit,” said Merriman.

“But it was not an easy week for us with only one day to prepare.”

The Tridents waited four days to play the HFX Wanderers on Tuesday night, a 2-0 victory, in a game that was originally scheduled for last Saturday but pushed back due to post-tropical storm Fiona. Then came the 5,832-kilometre trip back to Victoria from what is the third-longest distance travelled in the world between soccer clubs in a top domestic league.

That left Thursday as the lone training day.

“There were tired legs and we were not as sharp as we usually are,” said Bustos, who converted an assist from equally-crafty Manny Aparicio for the early winning goal.

“I’m a guy who likes to get the ball and we did that today [for the goal].”

Merriman said: “The guys executed in the first minute tonight and then kept focus and mentality. Our fans gave us an extra lift. We have great support and they are our 12th Man and are getting louder and louder.”

It was also the final home regular-season game for three-time Canada-capped PFC captain Jamar Dixon, who announced his retirement. The Ottawa product’s connection to Island soccer goes back to his Victoria Highlanders days.

CORNER KICKS: PFC wrapped events around the game to commemorate Truth and Reconciliation Day. Representatives from the Beecher Bay, Esquimalt, Tsartlip, Songhees and Cowichan nations took part in a pre-game ceremony on the field, which included a moment of silence, and other activities around Starlight Stadium. The Tridents wore their alternate jersey, which was designed by Coast Salish artist Johnny Maynard Jr.

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