Young Blood: Pacific Extends Gazdov Deal, Brings In More Youth
Pacific FC is making a big gesture of faith in its number one 19-year-year-old goalkeeper Emil Gazdov, signing the youngster to a further two-year contract extension with a club option for 2026 – potentially ensuring that his stay with Pacific reaches six years.
He made two starts in the club’s fourth campaign, playing a full ninety against Valour and Halifax whilst Callum Irving was the number one.
Gazdov’s youth career began with Mountain United FC and the Whitecaps Residency Program, where he first caught the eye of previous Pacific goalkeeper coach Mark Village.
With La Masia’s Daniel Ortiz also liking what he’s seen from Gazdov years later when the goalkeeper coach replaced Village , the new two-year deal is a big commitment to the North Vancouver native.
That being said, he’ll face stiff competition in former Halifax Wanderers goalkeeper Kieran Baskett, who beat out Baj Maan to the number two role and will be ready to step in when called upon.
“Emil has great potential and has all the tools to become a complete goalkeeper,” said PFC head coach James Merriman on Emil ahead of what’ll be a big year for him.
“He is still very young, he knows he has work to do, he has many things to improve and we believe he’s committed to his development. Young players need opportunities to develop, they need professional games to learn and this is what we believe at Pacific FC.”
Gazdov isn’t the only young face announced to a new contract by the club today, either: CPL-U SPORTS draft pick Eric Lajeunesse will be joining on a U SPORTS deal, with the 19-year-old centre back – who made 22 starts in his first-year with the UBC Thunderbirds – bringing his imposing six-foot-two frame as a depth option.
“Eric has come into pre-season and worked every day towards a U-SPORTS contract,” adds Merriman. “He absolutely deserves the opportunity and we want to continue to develop him in our system.”
No update so far on whether Pacific’s second round draft pick, Brandon Torresan, might land a similar deal.
The club is also building upon its youth academy roots with the addition of two Van Isle Wave players on developmental deals, which retains their amateur status while introducing youth to a professional environment with limitations to how many appearances they can make.
In are Sami Marvesti and Jack Garner, with the first being a 16-year-old midfielder who jumped from Saanich Fusion FC to the VI Wave ‘06 program, and the second being a 17-year-old goalkeeper from the Wave ‘07 program who is likely only to ride the bench if one of two main roster goalkeepers are hurt.
“This is an exciting step in the Youth Development inside of Pacific FC,” added Pacific’s Executive Director of Youth Programs Shawn Fiddick. “Both players have been role models and exemplary in their performance both on and off the field.”
Pacific FC will kick off its fifth season at home against new neighbours Vancouver FC on Saturday.