Didic Ready For ‘Championship Intensity’ With Pacific FC
Amer Didic is a big man ready to fill equally big shoes at Pacific FC – and it seems that he’s universally been accepted as the right man for the job.
The six-foot-four defender joins the reigning champions after featuring 48 times for FC Edmonton, establishing himself as a staple backline addition under both Jeff Paulus and Alan Koch. A commanding presence on both ends of the pitch, he helped his hometown side as best he could – but with the club in the midst of a difficult roster rebuild, he’s ready to take the next step in his career.
When FC Edmonton told the players that essentially everyone was being released due to the club’s fiscal situation, things happened quickly: multiple options came in, and he assessed what was best for both himself and his career.
“For me, everything led me down the path to be with Pacific,” he says. “The club has had huge success in the past year, and I was fortunate enough to be offered a position there. I’ll do everything I can personally to help the team achieve a back-to-back title and we also have Concacaf too. It’s a place where I thought I’d fit perfectly, and the coaching staff believe me in. It was the ideal situation for me.”
While he has firmly established himself as a league-leading Canadian Premier League centre-back, he feels that the he has a lot more to show than he’s been able to in Alberta. The Eddies saw a lot of struggle on the pitch, and while that allowed Amer to prove his defensive prowess, there’s more to his game than that.
“In Edmonton, I wasn’t able to showcase my qualities in possession of the ball because most of the times we were defending and countering, you know? I’m definitely excited to step in and show that part of my game, and also doing what I think I’m best at: doing whatever I can to keep the ball out of the net and keep that defensive structure.”
Having led the league for both interceptions and clearances last season, that’s certainly something that’s within his wheelhouse. As impressive as he was last season, he says he was dealing with some niggling injuries throughout the year following the condensed bubbled start to the season – though that didn’t stop him from making 25 appearances and scoring three goals. He’s now fully recovered and ready for a fresh start out west.
“Last year was obviously the worst year in terms of results. The first year was a mix of everything, in the middle of the pack. At the Island Games we ended up in last place with no wins, and coming into the third year we had a new coaching staff and additions to the squad, and then we just end up one place up in the table. It was a tough season for the guys, and mentally it was something that I hadn’t experienced as a player in my career.”
As talented as he is, Didic has been through some tough moments even prior to FC Edmonton: he was on the losing side of two different USL Finals in his career, and it’s made him quite hungry to add something to his trophy cabinet. He even wanted the Eddies to go from worst-to-first last season, though fate had other ideas.
“We just weren’t able to get close to that position,” he reflects, “it’s always a goal of mine, and it should be with every team: as a player, you want to be able to win something.”
The reigning champions are certainly a good place to start looking. He likes that the ownership group is very committed to everything going on in the club, and that the west coast side has retained the majority of its core roster. They look like a side ready to mount a title defense, and he’s happy to put his own stamp onto that journey. He’s hungry to win.
“It’s a new environment, a new team, new ownership, new everything, and I want to be a part of that group and a part of that winning culture where I can go in, win games, and train and compete at a championship intensity. At the end of the day, I want to win something. That’s very, very important. I think winning, doing well, being a good teammates and being a leader sets you up for many other things, whether that be a higher level or better opportunity. It’s the winning where that comes.”
That’s certainly how it worked for Lukas MacNaughton, whom Didic is now replacing. He’s confident he will do well out west, and improve his game with a coaching staff that has brought the best out of many of its athletes. Oh, and he’s even set himself a personal marker for scoring goals, too.
“Five goals with set pieces,” he says, “that’s the minimum.”
Didic scored three for the Eddies last season, with his six-foot-four frame and sheer physicality making him quite a danger on corners and free kicks.
The defender has also earned two international caps from John Herdman, scoring on his debut against Barbados. He’s been enjoying watch Canada rise up the rankings in the time since, stating that the current defenders on the national team have been unbelievable – especially Steven Vitoria.
“You see the guys who are playing, and some guys are blossoming in my position. It’s tough competition, but it’s something that I use as a motivating factor in a healthy way,” he states.
Pacific will also allow Amer Didic to return to continental competition, something he’s no stranger to: in fact, he made debut for Sporting Kansas City in the Concacaf Champions League, where he has fond memories of marking Kenwyne Jones for a full ninety minutes.
“That was also another factor in my decision to come over to Pacific,” he admits, “being able to go and compete for another trophy. You have the league, Canadian Championship, and now this. It’s also a higher level of competition, experience, and exposure for all of the team as well.”
Didic made three appearances in the premier continental competition back in 2016, and knows the pressures that come with it. To that end, he’s eager to take on a leadership role and help the younger players adapt to the pressures that come with the infamously tough Concacaf away trips.
There’s a lot to look forward to, but that’s not to say he’s afraid of looking back: FC Edmonton means a lot to him, and so did the opportunity to play in the city he grew up in.
“It’s home. It will always be home, ” he says, “It was a blessing to come three years ago and be a part of a new league, a new team, and play footy at home in front of my family and friends. It’s a lot of emotions leaving, and it’ll be nice to come back and play at Clarke and see the family. My girlfriend will be here. It’ll have its emotions as it should, but at the end of the day three points is still the goal.”
While whether Pacific FC can succeed in its title defense remains to be seen, one thing is certain: Amer Didic’s arrival is a big boost to those chances. With Pa-Modou Kah gone and Kadin Chung trialing with Toronto, it’s going to be an interesting season out west.