Marcus Haber at the press conference to announce signing with Pacific FC on Jan. 9. (Jesse Laufer/News staff).

Starting from scratch, Pacific FC will be competing against legends

Pacific FC has a unique opportunity to build themselves from the ground up

Two players down, at least 20 to go.

Pacific FC’s roster got one step closer to completion with the signing of Marcus Haber on Jan. 9. With the club’s first season commencing in April, fans can expect to see an entire team created from scratch over the next few months.

“This a unique opportunity,” said head coach Michael Silberbauer.

How the team will look remains to be seen. Pacific FC’s media relations person Trisha Lees confirmed that as of now rosters will consist of 23 to 25 players that will be at least half Canadian. There has also been talk of a salary cap, though no number has been publicly confirmed by the league.

READ MORE: Victoria’s Pacific FC make first big signing

“Salary caps is something that isn’t really discussed publicly,” said Rob Friend, Pacific FC chief executive officer. “As you’re going to see, the players we’re signing are top quality players.”

Fans may be foggy on the finite details until the season is underway in April, but Silberbauer has a vision for the roster.

“I have an idea on how we want to play, I’m trying to find players that fit that. But in the end, we’ll see how the full roster comes,” said Silberbauer. “We’ll never ask the players to do something that they’re not comfortable with. In the end, we’ll probably adjust it around the players so it fits.”

Both Silberbauer and Friend are openly adamant that Pacific FC will have a local identity.

“They way we’re building the squad is wanting a foundation of young, talented, west coast players,” said Friend. “B.C.’s always been a place where we’ve produced top players, and so we’re building a team that’s an exciting young squad. We want to move these kids on to Europe.”

The Canadian Premier League (CPL) bills itself as both Canada’s top domestic league, and as a means for young talent to advance through the game in ways that previously might not have been possible. How that dynamic will play out alongside Canada’s three Major League Soccer (MLS) teams remains to be seen. The Montreal Impact have managed to pack enough fans to fill Parc Olympique, and despite an injury-plagued 2018 season, Toronto FC remains one of the top squads in North America.

Then there’s Alphonso Davies, the Ghanaian-born Canadian wonder kid. Across the Straight, the Vancouver Whitecaps developed him, watched him tear up the MLS, and sold him to play for one of Europe’s top clubs in a deal that could be worth more than $20 million dollars — all before he was old enough to legally play overseas.

READ MORE: Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Still, there will be an opportunity for clubs from both leagues to compete for dominance in the Voyageurs Cup.

Similar to the FA Cup in England, the Voyageurs Cup – also known as the Canadian championship – puts club teams from across Canada in competition for the right to represent Canada at the CONCACAF level. No matter how good the MLS teams do in that league, they need to win this cup to advance to the next level. Pacific FC might be underdogs if paired against Toronto FC, but Friend is excited to see the competition get underway.

“I’ve played in the German Bundesliga, and as a Bundesliga club I’ve lost to fourth division clubs,” Friend said. “That’s the Cup.”

On Jan. 9 the schedule and format for the expanded Canadian domestic cup were revealed. By virtue of entering into Canada Soccer membership in 2018 – later than most other participants – Pacific FC enters the tournament in the first round. The competition has five rounds and 13 teams total. Each round will have two teams play a home and away two-legged matchup. The team with the most total goals after both games advances.

The Voyageurs Cup kicks off May 15. Pacific FC’s opponent has yet to be revealed, but they will need to advance to the third round in July before an MLS team might come to Westhills Stadium in Langford.



jesse.laufer@oakbaynews.com

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