PFC star Marco Bustos called up to Canada camp

There is an adage about good things coming to people who wait. Patience, plus performance, have paid off for Marco Bustos of Pacific FC as he has received his first invitation to a Canadian national team soccer camp since 2017.

Bustos, capped six times, led Island-based PFC with five goals and three assists in 10 games during the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 Canadian Premier League season played in a bubble in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

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Displaying a deft left-footed touch, the attacking midfielder was among three finalists for the CPL MVP award, which went to Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker.

“To get noticed, you have to perform well. I’ve put my name back on the national team radar,” said Bustos. “It’s an important step for me. My two goals when coming to the Island to play for PFC were to be named CPL MVP and get called back to the national team. It’s a process and I’m sticking to it by being patient, working hard and doing the right thing always.”

Before his senior national team caps, Bustos, 24, played for Canada 14 times at the under-17 and under-20 levels.

The 28-player Canadian camp next month in Bradenton, Florida, will feature mostly North American-based players as Canada begins preparations for qualifying play for Qatar 2022 World Cup and the delayed Tokyo Olympics next summer, and for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

A large pool of players will be required. There are two goalkeepers among the invitees, 22 of whom are from MLS. Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich, Jonathan David of Lille and goalkeeper Milan Borjan of Red Star Belgrade will not attend the Florida camp because it falls outside the official FIFA international calendar.

Canada will open 2022 World Cup qualifying against Bermuda at home on March 25 and travel to the Cayman Islands on March 28. The following set has Canada visiting Aruba on June 5 and hosting Suriname on June 8. The Canadian home venues are to be decided. The last two Canada home games were scheduled for Westhills Stadium in Langford last March before being cancelled due to the pandemic.

“As a step towards World Cup qualifiers, the January camp provides our national team with an opportunity to re-immerse the group, both tactically and culturally, towards competitive matches in March,” Canadian head coach John Herdman said in a statement.

“As this is the first time we will be on the pitch with some players in over a year, it will be important to focus on performances as we build towards World Cup Qatar 2022.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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