It's a merger that combines clubs, history and proven talent.
The PoCo FC soccer club has aligned itself with Columbus FC to create two separate teams playing out of the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL) and the Metro Vancouver Soccer League (VMSL) respectively.
Having put together a series of dominant runs in Fraser Valley League play - including last year's season totals that included 31 wins and only two losses - the move represents a chance for the PoCo program to expose its considerable talent to a newer, if not better, calibre of play.
"For a lot of the players that we had acquired, their desire has always been to play in the higher league, which is the Vancouver Metro Soccer League," said long-time PoCo coach Thomas Mills. "So we've been working on how we go about achieving that. The next step for us, really, was to try this merger."
Established in 1953, Columbus FC is one of the more storied clubs in the Lower Mainland soccer loop regardless of league. They managed a top-four finish in league play last year, while POCo FC captured the League Cup trophy before bowing out of Provincial Cup play in the semifinals.
According to Mills, who serves as coach of both sides, the two sides will act as first and second teams. The expectation for Columbus, considered the stronger team of the two, is to contend at every level possible. In the PoCo FC context, the goal is to qualify for Provincial Cup play.
"[Columbus FC] is being built to succeed. It's not being put together just as an afterthought. There's a plan in place to target winning the Provincial Cup and we want to send this team to the nationals."
Some of the big-ticket names on the Columbus side include Steve DeBlasio and John Poli, who are flanked by former PoCo mainstays like Milad Rahmati, Mike Gomes and Tino Cucca. The core of PoCo FC's veteran group have remained with the FVSL side, including Jay Gagnes and Rich Norman.
"It's not a problem attracting players because we already had a group from both sides that were strong," Mills said. "By mixing the two, there's been a lot of people who have had to buy in to the new process because suddenly they're not all starters. There's only 11 starters and we've got 30 players."
Through two games in the early season, Columbus sits with a tie and a win. The team's most recent contest, played on Sunday, saw Columbus down Delta United 3-1 on the weight of a pair of goals from Kaz Kikuchi and a single from Rahmati.
PoCo, on the other hand, opened up the year with a 4-0 loss, the club's first regular season defeat in two years. The team did rebound last weekend, however, with a 3-1 win over SFC Temple United. The Coquitlam Metro-Ford Wolves, on the other hand, dropped their most recent contest 3-1 to the Sapperton Rovers and now sit with a loss and a tie on the year. The winless Port Moody Gunners have dropped two straight to begin the season, with their most recent loss - a 3-0 decision against North Delta - taking place on Sunday.