Check out Part 1 of this 2-part series on Pacific FC's ideal starting XI As Pacific FC return to Westhills in advance of hosting FC Edmonton on Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. PT, on OneSoccer), head coach Michael Silberbauer’s club will get another chance at building momentum before the Spring season comes to a close. For Pacific, the opportunity to follow up on a strong road win against Winnipeg Valour FC awaits. And for Silberbauer, with an injury-depleted roster in front of him, the home tilt will provide another look at how his puzzle pieces fit. Yesterday, we went through the numbers of Pacific’s best Starting XI at the forward and midfield positions. Today, we continue with the backline.

In Hendrik Starostzik’s absence, Silberbauer has faced perhaps his most difficult choice in constructing a Starting XI: finding the best centre-back to start alongside Lukas MacNaughton. Does the Danish coach go with the size and strength of Ryan McCurdy, or the on-ball abilities of Emile Legault? Legault has performed well by most measures – his 1.87 interceptions per 90 minutes ranks third on Pacific, behind Blake Smith (2.1) and Matthew Baldisimo (1.91) – but at 5’10”, the Canadian and French dual-national comes undersized for the position. Though an imposing presence, McCurdy has struggled at times, conceding two own goals and two penalties -- both converted -- in seven starts. A healthy Starostzik -- whenever the German centre-back returns -- makes a world of difference. Though in Pacific’s win over Valour FC on June 20th, Silberbauer showed he wasn’t afraid to switch things up on the defensive end and slot Baldisimo in opposite MacNaughton. The decision at left- and right-back comes easier. Along with keeper Mark Village, Kadin Chung has played more minutes (810) than any other PFC player, and Blake Smith isn’t far behind (727). The 19-year-old Chung is among Pacific’s top five performers in five separate categories (tackles won, clearances per 90 minutes, chances created, assists per 90 minutes, and passing accuracy). Smith, on loan from FC Cincinnati, is among PFC’s best in six (tackles won, clearances per 90 minutes, chances created, interceptions per 90 minutes, duels won, and touches per 90 minutes).

Credit to Nolan Wirth. In his lone start -- Pacific’s first leg of the Canadian Championship series against Cavalry FC -- he faced five shots and made three saves. That he conceded two goals against the Cavs means little: so, too, have York9’s Nathan Ingham, Forge’s Quillan Roberts (twice), the Wanderers’ Christian Oxner, and PFC teammate Mark Village. One start does not an indictment make. If he was healthy, there would be a case to give Wirth another start -- if for no other reason than to give Silberbauer another look. But absent a second look, Village remains the deserving starter. Through eight starts, the Abbotsford native has compiled two clean sheets and probably deserves another one against York9 FC, if not for a McCurdy own goal. The save percentage (61.8%) isn’t pretty, but again, an inconsistent back four hasn’t done Village any favours – and his last two starts have been among the keeper’s best. Here, too, a healthy Starostzik makes Village look a lot better.

The most deserving of extra minutes? Look no further, perhaps, than Zach Verhoven. In 206 minutes played, the 20-year-old University of British Columbia product leads Pacific FC in chances created per 90 minutes (1.747) and averages more shots on target per 90 minutes (0.87) than Terran Campbell (0.83) or Marcus Haber (0.73). At 63.8%, his pass completion rate is a concern, but that can partly be explained by sample size; when he played the full 90 against Cavalry FC, Verhoven completed a respectable 75%. Campbell and Victor Blasco have earned their keep as well. The former leads Pacific in goals (2) and assists (2) after Pacific’s win over Valour FC, and the latter leads all forwards in chances created per 90 minutes (1.28).

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