Pacific FC Announces Coaching Staff For 2022 With The Additions of Mark Village and Armando Sá
When Pacific FC internally promoted James Merriman to the vacant head coach post left behind by Pa-Modou Kah when he left for the MLS Next, the Island-born head coach now had to put together a coaching staff to assist him through the 2022 Canadian Premier League season.
With the addition of the experience of Canadian International Coach Stuart Neely in the Technical Director of Football role back in January, Merriman has continued to build his staff adding former Mozambique international Armando Sa in the assistant coach role and bring back Mark Village as another assistant and the goalkeeper coach for his fourth season with the Tridents.
Sá will be an entirely new face on the Pacific FC bench in 2022. Sá arrives at Pacific with an accomplished playing career and extensive coaching resume to his name.
Sá, most often deployed as a right back during his playing career, spent time at multiple high-level clubs in Europe. The former Mozambique international spent most of his career in Portugal, most notably playing for Rio Ave, Braga and Benfica. After leaving Portugal Sá suited up for Villareal and Espanyol in Spain as well as Leeds United in England. During his time with Villareal, Sá helped the Yellow Submarine finish third in La Liga in the 2004-05 season, only behind Barcelona and Real Madrid. Sá moved to Espanyol the next season where he won the Copa Del Rey.
Sá moved into coaching after his professional career came to a close. The 46 year old has been the head coach of many teams, and has even founded his own academy. Since 2019, Sá has been the owner and technical director at PRO11 Soccer Academy in Ontario. Sá is a passionate educator when it comes to soccer and has learned under some of Europe’s most esteemed coaches. While with Villareal he played under Manuel Pellegrini, who went on to win a Premier League title with Manchester City, and while at Espanyol he furthered his studies under Ernesto Valverde, who later won two La Liga titles with FC Barcelona. He also spent some time at Kleinburg-Nobelton Soccer Club under the direction of former TFC and Atlanta United assistant Bob deKlerk while working on his Canadian A license and refining his coaching skills. The one-time Copa del Rey winner is now is now taking a big step for his own coaching career with the move out west. He holds UEFA A Coaching License and his aforementioned Canada Soccer A License.
Village, 30, is very familiar to Pacific FC as he enters his fourth year with the club. The former Pacific goalkeeper joined the technical staff after spending the inaugural season as the club’s number one. Village replaced Marius Rovde in the role after retiring following a 2019 CPL season where he made 17 appearances for the west coast side, recording four clean sheets and conceding 24 goals. He’s expected to play a big part in the development of 18-year-old Emil Gazdov, who returned to the Tridents after a two-year long spell with FC Nurnberg in Germany.
Village has been a valuable part of the club’s technical leadership structure along with Merriman as both have been with the club since the very beginning. Although Village retired from professional football in 2020, the former FC Cincinnati and Whitecaps FC 2 player has still filled in on the bench as an emergency backup on occasion.
Merriman, heading into his first season as head coach, will rely on the expertise of Village and Sá to help re-energize the squad for another difficult season. Luckily, after paying his dues as an assistant for multiple years, before earning the internal promotion up to head coach, there aren’t many people better equipped to understand the importance of all members of a coaching staff than Pacific FC’s head coach. He’s tasked with a title defense season that will also see the club feature in continental competition for the first time ever, and that’s no small task.
With Village providing strong institutional knowledge and Sá bringing a fresh perspective, Pacific FC have two more valuable pieces of the technical staff including the likes of returning assistant coaches Chris Merriman and Riley O’Neill, Stuart Neely, now in the Technical Director of Football’s role, and a solid support staff of kitman Victor da Costa Ferreira and strength and conditioning professional Chris Hinton, the club looks to defend its Canadian Premier League title, as well as produce deep runs in both the Canadian Championship and Concacaf League. As one of the bright young Canadian coaches in the CPL, it’ll be exciting to see how the Nanaimo native does during his first season in charge.