2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #44 Pacific FC vs. HFX Wanderers June 25, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. PT/ 5:00 p.m. ET Starlight Stadium Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here
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This weekend's Canadian Premier League schedule begins at Starlight Stadium, as Pacific FC host HFX Wanderers on Saturday.
It's the first meeting between the two since April 23, a 2-1 home victory for the reigning champions. Manny Aparicio opened the scoring 25 minutes in before Cory Bent tied it up at 1-1 in first half stoppage time. The match seemed destined to end in a draw, but the hosts were awarded a late penalty, which Alejandro Diaz stepped up and scored to give Pacific all three points.
Aparicio has missed Pacific's last several matches with an injury, but head coach James Merriman confirmed on Friday that their star midfielder, and early Player of the Year contender, is available for selection again for this match. Later on Friday, Wanderers boss Stephen Hart countered with the update that their two key midfielders, Andre Rampersad and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé are both available as well after missing last weekend's match.
Both sides were kept off the scoresheet in their last game. Pacific FC drew 0-0 in a stalemate away to York United last Saturday, while HFX fell 3-0 at home against high-flying Forge FC. Pacific are winless in their last six matches in all competitions, going 0-3-2 in CPL action, and losing on penalties to York United in the Canadian Championship quarterfinals.
The Tridents currently sit second in the table, with 19 points (5-4-3) through 12 matches, a single point back of first-place Cavalry and one ahead of third-place Atlético Ottawa. HFX Wanderers enter the weekend in fifth, with 14 points (4-2-5) from 11 games, three back of fourth-place Forge FC, and three ahead of sixth-place York United.
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final! All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Pacific return home after challenging month on the road: The last time Pacific FC played in front of their home fans was on May 28th, a 2-2 home draw against Valour FC. After starting the season with a favourable home schedule, the last month was the opposite, making trips to visit all three of the Ontario teams -- losing to both Atlético Ottawa and Forge FC, and playing out a 0-0 draw with York United. Trying to break a six-game winless run in all competitions, a return home to play in front of their own fans may be exactly what they need. "It's important, we're building a good energy and a good environment here at this stadium, and a good connection and relationship with the players and with the fans," said head coach James Merriman on Friday. "Especially during that first month when we had those three home games in a row. We want to continue to build that, and we're looking forward to playing back in our stadium in front of our fans. Using that energy is a big part of how we had such a strong start to the season, so we're very much looking forward to that."
- Wanderers look to bounce back from another big defeat: HFX Wanderers were left frustrated after last weekend's 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Forge FC. It was a disappointing loss for a team who is usually so strong at Wanderers Grounds, and for a team looking to avenge the 4-0 scoreline in their meeting with Forge at the same venue a few weeks prior. Despite missing a few key players, head coach Stephen Hart and goalkeeper Christian Oxner made clear in their postgame media availability that that shouldn't be an excuse for a team with high aspirations and high potential, and that anyone who steps into the lineup is expected to perform and play at the same intensity as a regular starter would. Saturday's game in Langford is an opportunity to bounce back against a team also looking to recapture some good, although that team is the reigning CPL champions. "Coming here is always going to be one of those challenges, one that we look forward to, it's never going to be easy," offered Wanderers boss Stephen Hart.
- Winning the midfield battle is crucial, and return of CPL stars possible: Both Pacific and HFX have been missing star midfielders in recent weeks -- The Tridents without Manny Aparicio and the Wanderers missing their captain Andre Rampersad and midfield partner Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé. According to their coaches on Friday, all three of them are available for selection for this match, potentially adding much-needed boosts to their teams. Pacific have missed Aparicio's engine in midfield -- a piece crucial to their squad on both sides of the ball. He is one of the best players in the league at creating goalscoring opportunities from midfield, and is also strong defensively. Rampersad and Gagnon-Laparé were sorely missed last weekend as HFX had trouble limiting Forge's ruthless attack, and struggled to make things happen offensively as well. Both are very good footballers -- and similar to Aparicio are crucial to how their team plays in attack and defence -- but are also very important veteran leaders in that squad. How many minutes each are available to play remains to be seen, but the fact that they're available at all is an important development.
HFX Wanderers wins: 2 || Pacific FC wins: 5 || Draws: 4
April 23, 2022 – Pacific FC 2-1 HFX Wanderers
April 23, 2022 – Pacific FC 2-1 HFX Wanderers