Struggling Pacific FC hopes to snap out of it in Winnipeg

As a former Barcelona academy player and Vancouver Whitecaps prospect, Pacific FC midfielder Victor Blasco knows the ups and downs of pro soccer.

The native of Mallorca, Spain, says PFC just needs to reconnect with the basics.

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PFC heads into Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field tonight at 1-4-2 — and having not won since opening night — to take on Valour FC (3-4).

As the youngest team in the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League, there have been some hard lessons learned in the early going for Vancouver Island’s entry in Canada’s domestic pro soccer league. That plays on the mental side of the game as much as the physical side.

“The confidence is not there [after recent losses]. We need to believe in ourselves and reset,” said Blasco, the 2014 Pacwest Conference MVP with the Vancouver Island University Mariners, before signing his first pro contract with Whitecaps 2 in 2015.

PFC head coach Michael Silberbauer will return in time for tonight’s game. The former Danish international flew out of Toronto, following the 1-0 loss to York9 on Saturday, to complete his UEFA pro coaching licence in Italy.

Assistant coach James Merriman handled the training sessions this week at Westhills Stadium. Having coached many of the PFC players during his seven seasons in the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy program, Nanaimo-native Merriman knows them well and says they will rebound.

“We have faced adversity this season with two of the leading players of this project — [56-time Canada capped former Bundesliga and MLS pro] Marcel De Jong and [German-import] Hendrik Starostzik — going down with injuries,” noted Merriman.

“But we have a lot of confidence in this young group of pros. We now have had a good look at most of the other teams in the league [including Valour FC in a 2-1 loss at Westhills Stadium]. We know going into Winnipeg will be a challenge. We just need to focus on ourselves and continue to work hard.”

PFC returns to play FC Edmonton on Sunday afternoon at Westhills Stadium.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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