This interview first appeared on the Newsroom, a weekly podcast dedicated to the Canadian Premier League and Canadian soccer. Click here to watch, listen, and subscribe.

The Canadian Premier League's newest television star Marco Bustos joined the Newsroom podcast this week just a few days before his Pacific FC squad departs for Winnipeg to begin the 2021 CPL season at the Kickoff. As part of the Newsroom podcast's newest segment -- Return to the Stage, presented by Volkswagen Canada, Bustos helped break down Pacific's pre-season camp and how they've been preparing to get back into matches this month. First, though, Bustos spoke a little about what it's like to see himself on TV in a Volkswagen Canada commercial, which has been airing regularly the past few days during UEFA Euro 2020 matches on TSN. Bustos revealed he's had a flood of friends and family members reach out after seeing it, including an uncle who was caught by surprise seeing his own surname on TV. Bustos, a CPL Player of the Year candidate in 2020, went on to chat about entering his second year with Pacific FC -- also the club's second under coach Pa-Modou Kah. He suggested that the Vancouver Island-based side is raring to go, looking to improve on a strong performance last year at the Island Games, which saw them place in the top four. "I think a key thing that Pa did was bring in a lot of the same guys, getting chemistry, building the group," Bustos said. "I think that was important too, just building off of last year. We had a good season I felt, we had a lot of positives — obviously some negatives to grow on, but I felt like the first time together, and not knowing what PEI was gonna bring, I thought it was a positive 10 games. We always went in there saying we wanted to make the top four, and we did, but we fell a bit shy of the championship game." He added: "I feel more prepared than ever right now... Pa played at a really high level; the standard he brings every day to training sessions, the command that he has vocally of everyone, I just feel like this year we have more experience in the sense of the players in the league. I feel like we’re more prepared, we knew we were more structured this year in training sessions and just knowing that we’re getting ready for something big."

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Heading into this year, Bustos is as confident as ever in his teammates. He offered that the current Pacific setup is one of the best groups he's ever been in, both on and off the pitch. "This is the first team I’ve been in where everyone is really together," he said. "We don’t have that two, three guys where if they don’t play they ruin it for the rest of the group, we feel like we’re very much together. That’s gonna be important, especially in the bubble. Eight games in four weeks, it’s tough. But hopefully we come out with good results and everyone’s looking forward to it for sure." Bustos, a Winnipeg native, closed with some tips for all the staff and players heading to his hometown for The Kickoff. He offered a few restaurant recommendations and urged's Marty Thompson to pack plenty of bug spray. "I’m familiar with the stadium, I scored some goals there," Bustos added. "Just the feeling of being back home, obviously I won't be able to have my friends and family there in the stands yet… But it’s a good feeling, going back to somewhere you’re familiar with is always nice for sure."

To hear the full interview with Marco Bustos, as well as the rest of the Newsroom podcast, click here.

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