Winnipegger signs to play soccer in Sweden’s top league Bustos nominated for CPL player of the year award in 2020

Manitoba’s best male soccer player has taken his talents to Europe.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

Manitoba’s best male soccer player has taken his talents to Europe.

Marco Bustos, a 26-year-old attacking midfielder who grew up in the Maples, recently signed a two-year contract with IFK Värnamo in Sweden. The professional club plays in the country’s top division.

Bustos spent the past four seasons establishing himself as one of the best players in the Canadian Premier League (CPL) with Pacific FC (2020-2022) and Valour FC (2019).

“There were a few different countries and places I could’ve gone, but I think Sweden has a proven league in Allsvenskan. In many cases, it’s quite similar to the MLS. Maybe the MLS has more well-known guys in the soccer world, but when you talk about a playing style and competitiveness, I think it’s quite similar,” said Bustos, who also had a tryout with MLS side Toronto FC in November, in a phone call from Sweden.

Bustos is a perfect example of why the CPL is so important to players in this country. After going through the Vancouver Whitecaps’ system, highlighted by making four appearances with the main roster between 2015-16, Bustos joined the Oklahoma City Energy of the USL Championship, but struggled to find minutes. Fortunately, the CPL had just kicked off its inaugural season, opening the door to him signing with his hometown club, Valour, three games into the 2019 campaign.

He scored seven goals in 25 matches before Pacific made Bustos the highest paid player in the league that off-season. Bustos would reward the Victoria, B.C., franchise by being nominated for the league’s Player of the Year award in 2020 and helping them to a CPL championship in 2021.

Pacific is the only club outside of Hamilton’s Forge FC to hoist the North Star Shield trophy.

“I kind of got lost in a space where I was unsure of how to gain my confidence back, who to impress, where to go, or what to do. Obviously, the CPL came about and I watched the first few games… so, eventually I said, ‘You know what, let’s do it.’ Going home and playing in front of my friends and family and being with my family for an extended period, helped me a lot,” said Bustos.

“I went probably two seasons without regular minutes and then coming to Valour and playing every minute was important to me. Then making the move to Pacific I thought was better for me. I think staying in Winnipeg would’ve been too comfortable… For me, I think the CPL allowed me to see my value and obviously grow with experience.”

Bustos had 21 goals and 20 assists in 82 CPL appearances. From the first year, it was obvious to even the untrained eye, Bustos had more talent than most of his counterparts, but even then, it took a few seasons for him to get an offer to move up.

“Personally, what came up quite a bit was teams didn’t really know the level of the league since it’s quite young. I don’t think other teams saw the value in the league, they overlooked it,” he said.

“But obviously now with four years of the CPL going by and with the Canadian national team doing well and being at the World Cup, it’s a domino effect. Canadian players are a hot topic with more coming to Europe and playing on big teams.”

Canada’s World Cup roster in Qatar didn’t feature any Manitobans. Bustos has represented the country before as he earned six caps for the senior national team between 2015-17. With a strong showing in Sweden, Bustos is hopeful he can get back on Canada’s radar.

“I’ve spoken with (national team head coach) John Herdman before and he said I got to get myself in a more challenging league. So, obviously, I’ve made that step now. I’m not expecting a call just because I got here. I’ve got to come here, put in the work and prove myself with my performances. I think it’s a league where if I do well, why wouldn’t I get called?”

Värnamo begins regular season play in April.

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

Report Error Submit a Tip