PREVIEW: Pacific FC vs. Cavalry FC — 2024 Match #29
Canadian Premier League

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #29
Pacific FC vs. Cavalry FC
June 1, 2024 at 4 p.m. PT/5 p.m. MT
Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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Pacific and Cavalry kick off the second quarter of their CPL campaign on Saturday, as Pacific hosts Cavalry at Starlight Stadium.

Their second meeting of 2024, they’ll both hope for more fireworks than their first game, a 0-0 draw at ACTO Field in June.

An entertaining matchup, that game ended up being a prime example of what both teams have done well at this season – keeping things tidy at the back, which ended up cancelling each other out in the end.

In a sense, both teams will be eager to return to that sort of defensive solidity in this game – Pacific have conceded goals in back-to-back games after starting the year with five straight clean sheets in league play, while Cavalry’s lone clean sheet is in that Pacific match as they’ve otherwise struggled to keep the ball out of their net despite having strong defensive analytics.

For what it’s worth, Pacific will be entering this game filled with confidence, despite back-to-back losses in CPL play. Fresh off arguably their best performance of the season in the Canadian Championship, in which they beat an undefeated Atlético Ottawa side 2-1 in leg two of the quarter-finals to advance to the semi-finals, that win will be key for their morale.

They don’t have much time to think about it, as it came on Wednesday, giving them a quick turnaround for this game, but they’ll see that as an opportunity to build some momentum and return to winning ways in league play.

“I think it’s about (keeping) consistency in our mentality,” Pacific’s head coach, James Merriman, said this week. “We have a big performance like that in a midweek game, but now can we keep that mentality? Can we keep that energy and bring confidence into this game?”

“We know Calvary has tied their last few matches and they they want points. They’re fighting (to win), and they’ve had the week to prepare, so we need to expect that that energy from them, and we need to match it, we need to be up for it, and we need to be focused and start the game strong, just like we did on Wednesday.”

As for Cavalry, they’ll be eager just to win, period. Despite putting in some solid performances across their league games, they’ve struggled to execute at both ends in typical Cavalry fashion, which is why they have just one win in seven matches.

Therefore, while they’ll be pleased that they’re also not losing games, sitting with just one defeat in seven matches, having drawn five games, they know that they need to turn those draws into wins sooner rather than later if they’re to start pushing up the league table.

That’ll require them to tighten up their play in both boxes, especially against a side like Pacific, who remains in third place despite their mini-slump, but Cavalry will be up for the challenge, knowing that a win would tie them with their hosts on points with 11.

“It’s about belief” Cavalry’s head coach, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. “What this has shown me is that we’re a club that refuses to lose, we don’t lose many, and if you start that way, (that helps). What’s pleasing is that we’ve come back from being down at Ottawa away or against York at home, so if we’re not going to win a football match, we don’t lose and roll over, and that’s what you see with our mentality.”

28-04-2024 CAV v PAC at ATCO Field, Calgary, Alberta, Canada CFC Media/Tony Lewis

In terms of squad availability, Pacific remains without Aly Ndom for the rest of the season, while Adonijah Reid, Georges Mukumbilwa and Cédric Toussaint will miss out on this match with injury, although they aren’t too far away from returning. Reon Moore will also miss out as he serves the last game of a suspension, rounding off Pacific’s absences.

As for Cavalry, they’ll be without Maël Henry, who Wheeldon Jr. said is likely to return to training next week after a lengthy spell out, while Ali Musse and William Akio are also out for this game with injuries, although their timelines for a return remain less clear.

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  • Will extra rest be beneficial to Cavalry after Pacific’s midweek exploits? For a Pacific side coming off a big and emotional win in midweek, it puts them in an interesting position with such a quick turnaround before their next game. On one side, some would indicate that could be an advantage for them, as they’ll have the chance to build some momentum following a big victory. Conversely, fatigue could be a big factor for Pacific, especially given some of the injuries within their ranks, which may lead to some tired legs. Because of that, it gives Cavalry a clear mission in this game – bring energy and  use their fresh legs to their advantage. If Cavalry comes out flat, expecting a tired Pacific side, that could backfire on them, especially early in the game, when Pacific will likely be at their freshest. With a strong and energetic Cavalry start, however, that could put the pressure on Pacific to match their pace of play, which will pay off over the course of the game, especially if they can find some early goals. Therefore, while this might be a home game for Pacific, which would usually put the onus on them to set the pace, this game could see Cavalry have to step up in that regard, which may be beneficial for them as they try and turn their recent run of draws into a win. “We hope to be that protagonist,” Wheeldon Jr. offered when asked about this game. “This is where we test our squad,” Merriman added on his end.


  • Pacific looking to build momentum offensively: There was a lot Pacific will be pleased about in their Canadian Championship win in midweek – they started strongly, were solid defensively, and most importantly, came alive offensively after struggling in that area to start the year. In fact, other than a few second half misses that nearly came back to haunt them, it was arguably their best offensive performance of the year, as they created enough chances to score four or five on the day, it seemed like. Because of that, look for Pacific to build on that performance. In particular, they had a strong showing from the duo of Ayman Sellouf and Josh Heard, with Heard putting in an excellent shift on the right, while Sellouf thrived in a new role centrally. “When he’s more central, he can be more dynamic, he can find different spaces, find gaps, and he has freedom to move in there,” Merriman said of Sellouf. “He excelled in that.” Along with the help of Steffan Yeates from deeper areas, and the added contributions of Reon Moore up front and Kunle Dada-Luke out wide, that combination seemed to click nicely for Pacific in that game. Naturally, they’ll have to tweak things slightly in this game, as Moore serves the last of a three game suspension in CPL play, but that should open up the door for Dario Zanatta, who played just 12 minutes in midweek, to step up and replace him up front. Other than that small tweak, however, look for Pacific to run things back and prove that they can put up offensively displays like that on the regular, returning to their usual high-flying ways after a quieter start to the year in that regard.


  • Game management key for Cavalry: As mentioned earlier, a strong start is going to be key for Cavalry, but how they manage the game will be just as important. For example, it’s worth noting that in their lone win of the season, a 3-1 win over Vancouver FC, that’s the only game in which they’ve scored two consecutive goals, as every other game has either seen them open the scoring and let their opponents respond, or go down early and have to come back. Because of that, while a goal of theirs might be to open the scoring and avoid playing from behind in this game, another one will be to turn a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 lead if they get it, instead of letting their opponents back into the game. Of course, it’s worth noting that this isn’t anything new for Cavalry – to start 2023, they struggled massively at holding onto leads, dropping over a dozen points early on, but then they cleaned things up as the year went along, helping them cruise to a regular season title. That’s important to note, as it means that if there’s a team that will be aware of their own struggles and eager to change things, it’s Cavalry, who will want to return to those winning ways. Given that a win can put them right back into the top four, this could be the game Cavalry needs to get back to those standards, as they look to repeat as regular season champions. “Over the course of a season, things balance out,” Wheeldon Jr. said. “So for us, we’ve talked about it, we’re creating more opportunities than we were at this time last year, so we’ve just got to continue to believe and lean into it.”


Pacific FC: Gazdov; Dada-Luke, Quintana, Meilleur-Giguère, Lajeunesse; Lamothe, Young, Bahous, Sellouf; Heard, Zanatta

Cavalry FC: Carducci; Aird, Kobza, Klomp, Montgomery; Shome, Trafford; Warschewski, Camargo, Brooks; Shaw


Cavalry wins: 14 || Pacific wins: 8 || Draws: 5

Last meeting:

April 28, 2024 — Cavalry FC 0-0 Pacific FC


“It’s a good test for us right now with our mentality. We don’t think it’s a secret – we’ve had some injuries, we have some players missing, and that challenges your depth, it challenges the squad and allows other players to step up and gives them opportunities, as well. We need to grow from that, we get that it’s still early in our season as a team, and this type of challenge can also be a good thing for us. Guys stepped up on Wednesday, and now we’re going to need the group to step up again in this game, and I think that’s a big test of our mentality.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman

“We’ve always used that saying – adapt and overcome – and I think that’s something that this group is well versed in. They know that if we keep playing the same way, we keep doing our thing, results will come our way. We’ve played everybody in that first round of games, we’re their version of us going up against the Whitecaps – we’re a big game for them, so it’s flattering to be a measuring stick for them, but now we’ve got to start converting draws into wins.”  — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.