The CanPL is due to start on June 26th, and as one of the primary leagues we follow at The Enganche’s Vision, here is a list of 10 U23 players that people should follow, if any to search for.
Lowell Wright – York United (2003)
In the newly rebranded York United, formerly known as “York 9”, Lowell Wright is one of the few players who was maintained from last years squad. He was born in 2003, making him one of the younger players on this list and has a goalscoring instinct.
He was formed at Sigma FC, the same academy that spawned Cyle Larin and Kyle Bekker. He then moved onto Woodbridge Strikers in the regional League1 Ontario before finally moving onto the professional Canadian Premier League.
He managed to score on his first professional game against Atletico Ottawa in 2020’s Island Games (the bubble name for last years CanPL) and also managed a 0.14 xG on his second appearance but fizzled out in the last few games probably due to having less minutes. This season is a good chance to break out as he turns 18 in August and will likely get more of a chance.
Tristan Borges – Forge (1998)
Fans of the CanPL will already be familiar with Borges after being one of the best players in the 2019 Inaugural season. He has then gone to Belgium but only got 90 minutes in the first team with OHL Leuven against Mouscron to which he played out of position at left back.
Borges has returned to Forge FC on loan from Belgium. He is likely to be one of the best players in the league again just like in 2019. His best traits are his dribbling and first touch, as he’s not the fastest player but difficult to mark because of this. He’s also a good goalscorer as he bagged 13 goals in the 2019 CanPL, making him the league’s top scorer.
Like Lowell, Borges also had a stint at Sigma but it wasn’t his formation club. That honour went to Toronto FC and later Heerenveen in the Netherlands. So Borges already has plenty of experience under his belt to make yet another impact in the league he helped his team win back in the Inaugural season.
Terran Campbell – Pacific (1998)
The second top scorer in the CanPL in 2019 was Terran Campbell, who continues to play for Pacific FC. Campbell scored 11 goals and was a revelation after Haber didn’t turn out as expected due to not performing when he got a chance, and spending most of the rest of his time injured.
Campbell had an xG per 90 off 0.3 back in 2019, so you can bet he could score a goal most of the time, and he did do just that. Very few times he played on the right wing but is a center forward first.
2020 was definitely a weaker season for him as he only scored 1 goal and even had a significantly lower xG of 0.27. Regardless, this is a new chance for him to impress once again just like he did in the Inaugural season of the CanPL.
Rafael Nuñez – Atletico Ottawa (2002)
Rafa was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in Spain, and as was expected at some point, Atletico Ottawa loaned in a player from their parent club, Atletico Madrid.
Nuñez has shown some promise for the Dominican Republic U23 squad, but couldn’t do much more than show flashes of talent due to having played in a vastly weaker squad to Mexico, USA and Costa Rica, the group they were in.
He put in 1.36 dribbles per game and won 66%. Of course that is a small sample size, but the right winger is a quick player who can beat his man when on the one on one. Particularly against Costa Rica he bagged a 0.24 xA, and that average down to an overall xA of 0.11 which is certainly not a bad total. Overall he’s going to look to impress further in his first professional stint.
Jose Hernandez – Cavalry (2000)
Hernandez used to play for Pacific but today plays for the 2019 runner ups in Cavalry FC. In 2019, he certainly wasn’t “too young” but he wasn’t Pacific’s first option and played on occasions. He showed a lot of flashes of talent and had an xG per game of 0.16 in about 616 minutes. He also only scored 1 goal and it was early in the season.
Whenever he did get more than 45 minutes, he made the most of it to impress. This season could be his breakout year, even with Anthony Novak now competing with him for the CF spot. He will likely have much more minutes this time around now that he’s almost 21.
Chance Carter – FC Edmonton (2001)
Carter is a Vancouver Whitecaps graduate and those tend to have found success in the CanPL. Many players like Noah Verhoeven, Marco Carducci among others have walked into this league and done a very good job.
Carter did play in 2020, so he’s not exactly a newcomer. However now that he’s almost 20 he’s likely to gain more appearances for FC Edmonton, who were the team that finished bottom in 2020’s Island Games.
Carter is mostly a CDM and has impressed when given quite a few minutes to show his talent, so another one likely headed for a breakout year.
Alex Marshall – HFX Wanderers (1998)
Marshall mostly played out on the wing for 2020’s Island Games finalist HFX Wanderers and while he didn’t score, he did get 2 assists and have a high xA of 0.21. In some games it even rose to as high as 0.44.
The Jamaican player is an international with 10 caps for the Reggae Boyz, and he’s probably going to be one of the more important players to HFX as he looks to improve his tally from last years CanPL. He’s an intelligent and fast winger who can put in a through ball from a somewhat deep position.
One to watch as HFX will attempt another run like last year.
Kadin Chung – Pacific (1998)
Like Tristan Borges, Kadin Chung isn’t a new name for CanPL fans, but he isn’t a marquee name either. He’s a recognizable full back who is very good offensively. He’s competent enough defensively but his job is to make several progressive runs and overlap to help add width to his teams tactical formation.
He is a right back and not so interchangeable as he’s only played on the left twice. However, it should be noted that he put in 1.85 progressive runs per game in both 2019 and 2020. He also won 40% of his 5.52 offensive duels in 2019 and 42% of his 5.45 duels in 2020. He’s quite simply an accomplished player and is the type a manager really likes, so he’ll probably be an undisputed starter for the 3rd season in a row.
Gerard Lavergne – York United (1999)
The second Dominican on this list, Gerard Lavergne joins York United this season and is a very defensive minded midfielder. He’s already a full international and is likely going to be the replacement to Joseph Di Chiaira.
He averages 3.35 interceptions per game in all competitions. In the CONCACAF Nations League alone however, he makes up 4.69 interceptions per game. He also puts in 8.12 defensive duels per game in that same competition, winning 62% of those.
Gerard is going to be an interesting addition to the league and having international experience will help him increase York’s quality.
Noah Verhoeven – York United (1999)
Having played for Pacific prior, the dynamic box-to-box midfielder signs for York United in their attempt to rebuild the squad, after having several of their key players leave for other teams.
Noah is a quick forward-thinking midfielder, who can play in CAM or just naturally in CM. In 2019, he averaged 2.16 progressive runs per game and about 1.97 in 2020. He also puts in 3.93 dribbles per game, winning 75%, which is a very decent sample size.
This is definitely a marquee signing for York and he’s still only 22 years young, meaning he’ll be an undisputed starter for this team, just like he was at Pacific on the west coast.