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‘Clash Of The Titans’: Pacific’s Paul Beirne On Top-Of-The-Table Bout Against Atletico Ottawa

By on May 17, 2024 0 704 Views

The Canadian Premier League‘s sixth matchweek will kick off on the Isle tonight with two top-of-the-table teams aiming to wrestle themselves a solo perch atop league stands.

Pacific FC will host Atletico Ottawa in a game that will open with both teams on eleven points and the same goal difference. The visitors lead the league in goals scored, while the hosts have yet to concede a single goal in league play.

“We’re tied for first place on the table, and Ottawa – this is an intended double entendre, Ottawa is the most offensive team in the league,” says Pacific FC Manager Paul Beirne, speaking with Al Ferraby on C-Fax 1070. “And we’re the most defensive in the league.”

Pacific FC Emil Gazdov
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

The Tridents enter the night with five games behind them, where young goalkeeper Emil Gazdov holds four clean sheets from four games, and backup keeper Sean Melvin also holding a clean sheet when he stepped in for a match.

Ahead of them is a defensive line that has already tallied a league record for consecutive clean sheets, with former Ottawa Fury defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguere perhaps being one of the most underrated defenders in the league since his arrival to Pacific back in 2020.

Pacific FC Thomas Meilleur Giguere
Photo Credit: John Jacques

He’s one of the squad members who brought the Isle a national trophy back in 2021, with the Quebecois defender flanked by a tight unit of players who have, thus far, simply refused to give an inch to opposition teams.

“It’s a great defensive mindset along the whole team,” adds Beirne. “Like I said, our back line – I think one of our defenders coined the phrase that they’re the French connection: they all speak French, and they all have a real connection amongst themselves.”

Beirne believes that what fans are seeing comes down to players who are enjoying their team at Pacific and feeling comfortable, stating there’s a real tangible difference to be seen on the pitch when players are enjoying the moment versus when they’re not.

Whether they’ll enjoy tonight remains to be seen: visiting Atletico Ottawa posses a potent attack backed by plenty of star CPL talent: with players like Ballou Tabla and Aboubacar Sissoko coming in along with former Tridents Manny Aparicio and Amer Didc all being added this offseason, Beirne describes the match between the two teams as a Clash of the Titans.

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The two teams met earlier this month in cup play, fighting to a nil-nil draw in Ottawa. Beirne believes playing in Trident Territory could give his team the edge tonight.

“The fans, we call them the twelfth man: they have the ability to life our team up and make them play better, to get them energized and give them fuel. That adds to the fire – the atmosphere at our matches is always a talking point. It’s always one of the things that people take away when they come to a match for the first time, because it’s a real football atmosphere and we’re proud of it.”

Beirne jokes that it boggles his mind constantly how amazing the venue is, stating that the worst seat in Starlight Stadium is better than all of the seats at BC Place, where mainland MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps calls home.

Pacific FC Kunle Dada-Luke
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

Owned by the City of Langford, Pacific FC is currently on a one-year lease at Starlight Stadium, though both parties are seeking longer-term solutions that, for the moment, appears to be sidelined while a referendum for the stadium’s next renovation phase gets tabled.

Looking at the league as a whole, Beirne says the CPL is going from strength-to-strength, noting increased attendances year-over-year, a current eight team total, and new initiatives like the CPL On Tour series, which will bring games to cities that don’t have CPL clubs in the local market. This year, it’s Kelowna who will be the solo stop for 2024.

“From a media rights and a sponsorship rights perspective, it’s not just getting stronger, it’s getting stronger very quickly,” says Beirne, who believes that the major brands are understanding that football is on an upswing ahead of Canada hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Pacific FC Paul Beirne
Photo Credit: Sheldon Mack / Pacific FC

As one of the founders of the league – he was the CPL’s first-ever employee, and later its first President from 2018 to 2019 – he’s had front row seats to how the league is prepared to use the global competition’s spotlight to elevate itself.

“When we were building this league, we always said that leading up to the World Cup, it’s all foundation building. We’re below grade and we’re getting all the pipes done, and putting in foundation. 2026 is the moment where I think we’ll see it have a little bit of rocket fuel, we’ll see it grow, and we’ll go from strength-to-strength.”

That’s just as Pacific has done, going from being one of the most potent attacking teams to one of its most resolute defenses. With striker Reon Moore suspended for the match, there could be some fireworks as Pacific seeks an edge on the visitors from Ottawa.

Pacific FC kicks off against Atletico Ottawa at 7:00 PM GMT (10:00PM EST). Fans who want to tune in can do so on OneSoccer, fuboTV, and Telus Optik Channel 980.

Quote Source: CFAX 1070 Victoria

Header Image Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

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