PREVIEW: Halifax Wanderers @ Pacific FC
Canadian Premier League

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #3
Pacific FC vs. Halifax Wanderers FC
April 13, 2024 at 4 p.m. PT/8 p.m. AT
Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia
Watch Live: OneSoccer // Tickets available here

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Pacific FC and the Halifax Wanderers will kick off the 2024 season with a ‘Coastal Clash’, as the CPL’s two furthest teams get set to take the field in Langford at Starlight Stadium on Saturday.

In a rematch of both clubs’ first-ever game, which came almost five years ago on April 28th, 2019 at the same stadium, it’s a fitting way for both to kick-off their sixth seasons in the league.

This time, however, both teams objectives will be much different than they were in those first-ever games. There, they were just trying to stamp out their identity as clubs, figuring out how to find their feet as brand-new teams.

Now, it’s safe to say that they’ve found those identities. Fittingly, they proved to be quite similar last year, too – both teams want to play an entertaining and free-flowing style of play, and aren’t shy in relying on younger players to do so.

Because of that, it always makes for entertaining games whenever they meet, and this should be no exception. Especially as both teams head into crucial seasons, with Pacific looking to build off a strong playoff run, one that included a statement road win over this same Wanderers side, while Halifax is looking to grow after an impressive regular season campaign under first-year manager Patrice Gheisar.

2024 CPL SEASON PREVIEW: All you need to know about the 2024 Canadian Premier League season

Yet, while Pacific will be pleased with how they ended last year, they face some big questions heading into 2024. Having lost some key pieces, it feels like this team will look different than the one that showed great resilience in the playoffs, where they battled to within a goal of returning to their second-ever final in a 2-1 loss to Cavalry after downing York United and the Wanderers with a pair of 1-0 wins in the earlier rounds.

At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Pacific looking too different than what they showed last year, as some key veteran pieces return – centre back Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, midfielder Sean Young and forward Josh Heard are heading into their fifth season with Pacific, while full back Kunle Dada-Luke is getting set for his fourth campaign on the Island.

Along with the return of second-year’s Ayman Sellouf, who finished fifth in voting for the CPL’s Player’s Player of the Year award following a seven goal, eight assist debut season with Pacific, and Adonijah Reid, who had four goals and four assists in his debut campaign with Pacific, and that leaves Pacific with plenty impact players returning at both ends.

Plus, they’ve done well to support them with some new arrivals, such as veteran French midfielder and defender, Aly Ndom, experienced Romanian attacking midfielder, Andrei Tircoveanu, and Trinidad and Tobago international forward, Reon Moore, who are all intriguing international additions who bring some important skills to the table.

Because of that, Pacific will feel that they’ve done enough to make the playoffs for a fifth straight year, once again showing their ability to deal with key departures and not sway from the identity that has made them one of the league’s top teams over the last few seasons.

“It’s important, bringing back that core group is pretty vital,” Heard, Pacific’s captain, noted this week. “There are also the young guys that we had last year who are now another year older and with another year of experience who we’re going to see step up. I’m excited to see them step into those roles, and you’ll see, these guys have grown and there’s a lot more experience in that locker room after just one season, and I’m excited to see them step up.”

“We’ve done a great job,” head coach James Merriman added. “We’ve brought in a lot of quality, and now it’s about them getting used to the Canadian Premier League travel and all of those things that come with it, but we’re really excited about the group of players that we brought in, and the players that are returning.”

“We feel strong. We’ve had a really good energy in the in the preseason.”

RELATED: 2024 Season Preview: Pacific FC || 6 questions ahead of Pacific FC’s 2024 season

Meanwhile, the Wanderers are looking to prove they can become part of the CPL’s elite, after they had a breakout season last year.

Finishing with 42 points from 28 games, besting their previous best 28 game mark of 35 from the 2021 season, they ended up sitting tied for second in the regular season, after never finishing higher than tied for fifth. Unfortunately, the playoffs didn’t go as planned for them, as they fell 1-0 to Pacific in their first-ever playoff game at Wanderers Grounds, but it offered a good taste of what it takes to be a top team in this league.

Now, however, the tough work begins for the Wanderers. Sometimes, it can be easy to have a one-off season, as everything can go right and you can catch teams by surprise – the toughest part of being a great team is to maintain that standard over multiple years.

For what it’s worth, though, this Wanderers side seems capable of doing that. Led by 2023 Coach of the Year nominee, Gheisar, a core group of players headlined by Player of the Year nominee, Lorenzo Callegari, Defender of the Year nominee, Daniel Nimick, and attackers Massimo Ferrin and Aidan Daniels, this Wanderers core is still young and primed to build off what they showed in 2023.

Having done well to secure some key additions across the board, with veteran CPL midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé set to return for his second stint with the Wanderers, Brazilian midfielder Vitor Dias set to be a potential João Morelli replacement after the retirement of the 2021 CPL MVP and Golden Boot winner, and veteran forward Christian Volesky set to fill a big hole at striker, it feels like they’re primed to even take a step forward on top of that.

If they’re to do that, however, they’ll do so with a target on their backs, but they welcome that challenge.

“We come back with the core of our group returning,” Gheisar said. “We have set some objectives of how we are going to improve, and barring any surprises, a strong start will help us dramatically.”

RELATED: 2024 Season Preview: Halifax Wanderers FC || 6 questions ahead of Halifax Wanderers FC’s 2024 season

One thing’s for sure heading into this matchup – both teams have a lot to prove, and it should lead to a spirited opening match.

For Pacific, they’ll look to remain a team to beat, while Halifax will be looking to affirm that sort of reputation, which should make for an interesting clash.

In terms of player availability, Pacific are just missing Kunle Dada-Luke through suspension for this match, as everyone else is available for selection, while the Wanderers also enter with a clean bill of health on their end.

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Oct 14, 2023: Canadian Premier League match between the HFX Wanderers FC and Pacific FC at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Trevor MacMillan/HFX Wanderers FC)

All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, FuboTV, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.


  • Pacific aiming to return to usual home dominance: Typically, Pacific has done well to make Starlight Stadium a fortress over the years, picking up 20 points in 10 regular season games in 2021, before picking up a solid 26 points in 14 games in 2022. Because of that, it was a big surprise to see them slip and pick up just 19 points from 14 home games in 2023, as they struggled to impose themselves at home, finishing with a record of 5W-4D-5L. For context, that’s the same number of home losses that they had in 2021 and 2022 combined, giving an idea of how much things slipped in that regard. They made up for it last year by being quite good on the road, picking up 21 points out of 14, but a return to home form could end up being huge for them as they push to return to the playoffs once again, especially seeing that they’re set to start 2024 with a run of six home games in their first eight matches. “You always want to play well at home,” Heard said. “That’s something that we talked about, we have to be better at it if we want to be successful this year, especially because we’re here on this island, it doesn’t make for easy travel for other teams, so we have to make it a fortress and that’s a big focus for tomorrow.”


  • Wanderers looking to lean on newfound veteran wisdom: While Pacific was better on the road than at home in 2023, the same can’t be said for the Wanderers, who picked up 14 points on the road compared to 28 at home. With the latter being the second-best number in the CPL, that helped them finish where they did, but they’ll want to be better on the road after having won a league-low two away games in 2023. Yet, that’s where their new additions such as Gagnon-Laparé, Dias and Volesky will help. Last year, the Wanderers started the year with a young and inexperienced lineup, and while that didn’t end up being an issue for them, it made for some early growing pains. With these veteran additions, however, who bring crucial experience from their respective stints in the CPL (Gagnon-Laparé), USL (Gagnon-Laparé and Volesky) and MLS Next Pro (Dias), they’ll look to help the Wanderers in certain aspects where their inexperienced showed at times last year, such as with their road record. With this team now a year older and more mature, that should prove to be huge – especially given that some of their new names look poised to make a pretty big impact on the field with their performances, too. “They each bring something different,” Gheisar said of his team’s new arrivals. “Whether it’s a left footed attacker, an experienced player, we had a checklist of the things we wanted to achieve, and we were very much targeted those individual players with their mentality, technical ability, their mobility and their experience, and I’m ecstatic to have all of them in here now.”


  • Playoff rematch likely to be on minds of both: It may have been all the way back in October, but it’s important to remember that one of the most recent games both teams played (and in the case of the Wanderers, the last game they played) came in the playoffs last year when Pacific surprised the Wanderers with a 1-0 road win on short rest. A chippy and intense defensive battle, one that saw Pacific grind out a result in the end, it led to a feisty clash, one that felt worthy of a playoff game. Because of that, one has to imagine the feelings from that game still lingers in the mind of both teams, adding fuel to the fire of this matchup. It might not be a revenge game, per se, but it’ll certainly be a game where feelings can be heightened, which could set the table for some pretty good battles between both teams this year. Given that both sides might end up pretty close to each other in the standings, that’s a pretty exciting proposition. “Our last game of the season last year was against Pacific, so how romantic is it that our first game is in the Pacific as well,” Gheisar said with a grin.


Pacific FC: Gazdov; Mukumbilwa, Ndom, Meilleur-Giguère, Amedume; Young, Toussaint, Tircoveanu; Heard, Reid, Sellouf

Halifax Wanderers FC: Fillion; Fernandez, Nimick, Loughrey, Timoteo; Callegari, Gagnon-Laparé; Daniels, Dias, Ferrin; Volesky


Pacific FC wins: 8 || Halifax Wanderers FC wins: 5 || Draws: 6

Last meeting:

Oct. 14, 2023 — Halifax Wanderers FC 0-1 Pacific FC


“It’s important to start strong. We know it’s been a long, long offseason, and then a long preseason, but we feel good, we feel ready to start as a group. We focused on ourselves, focused on our performance, and everyone’s looking forward to the first match and and having it here at Starlight Stadium in front of our fans.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman

“Our language to our guys has been about growth. Our main mentality this year will be about growth and continuing to improve collectively. Individually, I’m really excited to see some of our players grow after the work they’ve done this offseason and last season, and see how they’ll progress this year with more confidence and a bigger name. I think they’re going to be approaching the season differently, and instead of trying to figure out where they stand, they’ll be looking at how much more can they do.” — Halifax Wanderers FC head coach Patrice Gheisar