2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #49 Pacific FC vs. Cavalry FC June 30, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. PT / 9:30 p.m. ET Starlight Stadium in Victoria, BC Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here
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On May 1st, a struggling Cavalry side welcomed a red-hot Pacific FC team to ATCO Field for their home opener, eager to push up the Canadian Premier League standings after a slow start to their 2022 campaign. As a result, they were eager to leave a statement to the rest of the league, and boy did they ever, as they picked up a big 2-0 win over their visitors. Not only that, but it ended up being the spark they needed to shine, too, as they’re also yet to lose since that game, currently riding a record eight-game unbeaten run in CPL play, flying high as the new league leaders. Meanwhile, on the other side, Pacific has hit a rut ever since that game, as despite immediately following up that loss with two wins, they hit a wall right after, currently leaving them winless since May 14th, a run of six league games. Therefore, as these two teams get set to do battle almost exactly two months after that initial matchup, there is no doubt that this matchup could have a similarly significant impact on the fortunes of these two clubs and the league table. In one corner, there’s Pacific, who haven’t only struggled to pick up points, but have also looked like a shell of the team that was running rampant at the beginning of the season, struggling to impose themselves in games. Not only that, but their once-flowing offensive tap has dried up considerably as of late, too, as they’ve been kept off the scoresheet in three straight games, not something that’s often seen from them in recent years. Because of that, as they get set to host the new league leaders, Pacific is looking to find their feet once again in this game. Always up for a good game against Cavalry, as their history has shown, they’ll want to use this as a chance to get back on track, especially given that they’re only four points off their visitors in the league table in second despite their contrasting runs. “Yeah, I think we just need to come together as a team and work hard and work our way out of this,” Pacific head coach, James Merriman, noted this week. “We want to play good football, we want to be on the ball, but you need to earn that right and we need to get back to the basics and get back to putting in the work for each other.”
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Yet, while Pacific is eager to close the gap, Cavalry is confident in its ability to extend it further. And why not? As seen over this eight-game run, not only are they picking up points right now, but doing so with ease, too, finding a way to roll over pretty much everyone that they’re playing right now.
Plus, they’re doing so in a variety of different ways, as well, showing impressive chameleon-like ability in how they’ve adapted to their opponents, not content with winning in just one way.
Aggressive offensive forrays? Stingy defensive displays? Ferocious midfield battles? Name it, and Cavalry is up for it right now, something that they’ll look to keep up as they head into this game. Therefore, with games between these two teams always being tightly contested, a good battle is expected on Thursday, allowing them to pick up where they left off last time out.
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3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Pacific hoping return of Aparicio can spark offence: Having lost MVP candidate Marco Bustos for a good chunk of their CPL title-winning 2021 season, one player stepped up especially big to cover for Bustos’s absence with Pacific last year - Manny Aparicio. Often deployed as a #10 in Pacific’s 4-2-3-1, his role is so much more than that, as he is tasked to do a lot of important and tireless running on both sides of the ball, really tying together their solid defence to their lethal attack. So when he went down injured in May, it was understandable why Pacific were quite worried that he’d potentially miss a lengthy period of time, given how important he is to the team. And their record since he’s been out has only shown why. Sitting in first with 16 points (5W-1L-1D) through seven games heading into a May 21st clash with York United, the one where he went down injured, Pacific then went on to draw that game, before picking up just two points in the five games they played since, scoring three goals and conceding 10 over that span. The good news, however? Aparicio is finally back now, healthy enough to make the matchday squad for the first time in Pacific’s home clash against the Wanderers this past weekend, and is likely to feature in some capacity in this Cavalry game. Which for Pacific, is welcome news, especially with some crucial league games looming, along with their maiden journey through CONCACAF League later next month. Needing to get their talented attackers, such as Bustos, Alejandro Diaz and Josh Heard, all back and running, as well as find their legs again defensively, there’s no doubt that Aparicio’s return can tie that all together, helping them return to winning ways once again. “We’re very much looking forward to his return,” said Merriman of Aparicio. “We've missed his engine a little bit in the middle of the pitch, so we’re looking forward to having him back, and he's excited, he wants to play, he wants to get back in and help to help the group and help the team.”
- Cavalry looking to maintain strong road form: Part of the reason why Cavalry finds itself where they do in the standings right now? Their form away from home, which heading into this game, is the best in the CPL, having picked up a league-high 11 points out of a possible 21 on the road. Considering how hard it is to win on the road in the CPL, that’s no small feat, yet shows where Cavalry has been finding success this season, especially as of late, where they’re undefeated in four away from home (three wins, one draw). So as they get set to face off against the team who has picked up the most points at home, Pacific (who have picked up 14 out of a possible 21 at home), Cavalry will be eager to try and disrupt that. And you’d certainly back them in their quest towards doing so. Not only have they been winning on the road as of late, but have been doing so by going toe-to-toe with their opponents, too, not afraid to take the game to their hosts. As a result, they’ve actually held more possession in their last three road games, something that we don’t often see from teams, yet just shows how Cavalry have become a team to fear no matter where you play them, knowing that they’ll find a way to try and dictate proceedings on their own terms.
- The CPL celebrates its 300th game: When both teams take the field on Thursday, it’ll also mark a special milestone for the league, as it’ll officially mark the 300th game in CPL history. Already a big accomplishment on its own, it’s especially memorable when you consider how much of a rollercoaster the last few years have been in this sport globally, just adding to the importance of reaching such a milestone. Therefore, it’s most definitely something to celebrate, as the league continues to grow and develop, in the midst of its fourth season of existence. Plus, in a sense, it’s only fitting that for this 300th game, Pacific and Cavalry are the two teams playing, as they’ve had their fair share of memorable moments in their time across the league. So having been there since the first games, to where the league is at now, both clubs are happy with how things are trending, and are eager to ensure that more milestones like this can be achieved and celebrated in the future. “It’s extremely positive for the game in the country,” Merriman said of this game. “It’s a privilege to be in the first games of the inaugural season, and to be in the 300th match, too. And I think it's also great for us to play Cavalry because it's been a good rivalry for us with Cavalry and we all get along very well off the pitch, but we love to compete on both sides, so I'm looking forward to the match.”
Cavalry FC wins: 7 || Pacific FC wins: 5 || Draws: 2
May 1st, 2022 — Cavalry FC 2-0 Pacific FC
May 1st, 2022 — Cavalry FC 2-0 Pacific FC
“Yeah, we want to play this game, especially after the last performance from us, we want to get back on the field and play this match. We want to challenge ourselves, and we need to respond through our actions, our compete and our fight, so we're looking forward to the match. We know that Calgary has been in good form, so it’s a good challenge for us.” -- Pacific FC head coach James Merriman.