Pacific FC to face only eastern teams in Winnipeg bubble

East is east and west is west, but this time the twain shall meet. Pacific FC will play each eastern-based team twice, as the full soccer schedule was unveiled Wednesday for the Canadian Premier League Kick-off Tournament at IG Stadium in Winnipeg.

Each team will play eight games in the bubble hub with the four western-based teams playing the four eastern-based clubs twice each. The plan is to then have the teams disperse to their home markets for their final 20 games over the summer and fall “with every intention to play in front of our fans and supporters as soon as we can,” according to the league.

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The idea behind the scheduling in the Winnipeg bubble is to minimize distances during the travel portion of the season. As such, Island-based PFC will not play FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC of Calgary or Valour FC of Winnipeg in the bubble, saving those games for the latter part of the season when market-to-market travel is expected to be involved.

“The matchups are focused on minimizing travel as much as possible for the entire season,” the CPL said in a statement.

“The league is focused on determining the most efficient and safe manner to return to our home markets as the country and provinces continue to open up.”

PFC will open in a coast-to-coast battle against the HFX Wanderers of Halifax on June 26 at 2 p.m. PFC’s remaining games in the hub will be July 1 against York United of Toronto, July 4 against two-time defending CPL champion Forge FC of Hamilton, July 7 against Atletico Ottawa, July 10 against York United, July 13 against HFX, July 17 against Forge FC and July 21 against Atletico Ottawa.

Each match in the bubble will be available on OneSoccer.

“It’s a very good idea, and makes complete sense, to have made the schedule in such a way as to lessen the travel for when that time comes,” said PFC head coach Pa-Modou Kah.

“It’s also good for financial reasons.”

It has likely reduced travel to one eastern swing each this year for PFC, FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC and Valour FC. Conversely, Forge FC, York United, Atletico Ottawa and HFX will need to make only one western swing each.

The 2020 CPL season was played in its entirety in a single-site bubble in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“After nearly two years, we look forward to the time when we can return to our fans in our home markets,” said Kah.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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