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‘The Canadian Hulk’: Terran Campbell shining in CPL with Pacific FC

A former Whitecaps Academy, product Terran Campbell is impressing in the CPL and drawing comparisons to a famous Brazilian.

VICTORIA, BC — At just 20-years-old, Terran Campbell is one of the most exciting players in the Canadian Premier League.

The native of Burnaby, British Columbia scored — again — Wednesday in Pacific FC’s 1-1 draw against Forge FC at Westhills Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 2,124 fans, and has now scored eight goals in his past 10 games. 

At 6-foot and 185 pounds, Campbell has been labeled the “Canadian Hulk” after Brazilian striker Hulk. It is in many ways a fitting comparison because just like Hulk, Campbell is not your typical center forward.

“All the teammates say [I play like Hulk],” Campbell told to Pro Soccer USA when asked who he likes to compare himself to. “I have to go with him, as well.”

A former Vancouver Whitecaps academy product, Campbell is a dangerous striker. With his ability, he could be a player the goal-starved ‘Caps have been lacking this season. The 20-year-old had been involved in 27% of Pacific FC’s goals heading into the game against Forge FC on Sept. 4. 

What is his secret?

“Being at the right place at the right time,” Campbell said with a laugh.

But Campbell also likes to visualize scoring goals before the game.

“Sometimes I like to see myself scoring goals,” Campbell said. “It is always in the back of my mind. Who doesn’t want to score goals?”

Before joining Pacific FC this season, where he has appeared in 20 games, Campbell came up in the Whitecaps’ academy and appeared in games with the now-dissolved Whitecaps FC 2 and USL Championship side Fresno FC. He also appeared for the Canadian national team at the U-17 level.

The first half against Forge FC, however, was somewhat frustrating for Campbell. Used as the sole center-forward in head coach Micheal Silberbauer’s 4-1-4-1 formation, Campbell was the target man in Pacific FC’s setup.

“I am always looking for two options,” Campbell said. “Come to the feed or getting behind, stretch the defense in the backline. So whenever there’s an opportunity for me to get in behind the line it is hard for the other team to defend.”

That sort of awareness and positioning was evident against Forge FC. In the middle of the park, Campbell was always aware of that sliver of space available between the last defender and the goal.

Forge was very aware on defense, but finally, in the 29th minute that space was wide open, and Campbell almost exploded out of the gate. After five steps, he hammered a shot on goal that forced Triston Henry into making a diving save.

Perhaps it was a good thing that the shot did not cross the line because the referee on the sideline waved for offside, sparing Campbell some frustration. But it was a good example of what Campbell is all about. 

“I think he works very hard and has a high work rate,” Silberbauer said after the game. “Yeah, he is turning into a complete package. But we still have some things were we even think we can help him further.”

What does that complete package include? Like the Brazilian Hulk, Campbell only needs a few steps to reach top speed and also needs just a few inches to unleash a hard shot. At the same time, his movement off the ball is fantastic.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pitch, Monti Mohsen gave Forge FC the lead in the 31st minute with a curled shot from outside the box. Overall, it was a frustrating first half for Campbell and Pacific FC. 

That frustration crept into the second half for Campbell. Forge FC was well structured in the defensive third and never gave Pacific FC the room to unleash their striker. 

Then, in the 72nd minute, Pacific head coach Silberbauer brought on an additional forward in Issey Nakajima-Farran for defender Alessandro Hojabrpour.

“The change was obviously to get a fresh man, with fresh legs up there to cover a little more ground,” Silberbauer said.

The substitution gave Pacific FC an extra outlet up top and also forced Forge FC to divide their attention away from Campbell. 

Room that Campbell used to deadly effect in the 78th minute. A cross from the left from Blake Smith found Campbell in the center, surrounded by two defenders, the 20-year-old still managed to find the time to place a soft- looping header into the far corner of the goal. 

Terran Campbell celebrates his goal against Forge FC (Manuel Veth Pro Soccer USA)

Terran Campbell celebrates his goal against Forge FC (Manuel Veth Pro Soccer USA)

“Obviously, strikers are streaky,” Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis said after the game. “Sometimes you can do a great job with them defensively, which I think we did for 90 minutes of the game, but in that 10 seconds a good striker is gonna find his way to get there, and I thought he took the goal very well.”

“Oh, the goal was amazing,” Silberbauer said. “That is very hard to do, he got up there and was still able to get power on the header, that was very nicely done.” 

“It was a hard one,” Campbell admitted. “Blake played a very good cross that came in a bit slow and high. So I had to adjust and tried to get as high as possible to direct it in the corner.”

It was a beautiful goal that also carried some history. Campbell became the first player to score 10 goals in a single Canadian Premier League season.

“It’s good,” Campbell said. “But as a striker that’s one of your jobs to do.”

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