Ten Canadian MLS Players Who Could Jump To The CPL For 2020
With Major League Soccer clubs beginning to prepare their rosters for 2020, several Canadian players in the US top tier have found themselves with their options for the next year declined. While that doesn’t mean they’ll ultimately be departing from the MLS, it does open the door for a jump to Canada’s professional domestic league.
We took a look at ten Canadian MLS players who were either released earlier this season or had their 2020 contract options recently declined by their respective MLS sides to see if the now-free agents would be a good fit in the Canadian Premier League.
Ryan Telfer – Toronto FC
Ryan Telfer had a banner year on loan with York9 FC, making it fairly easy to link the 25-year-old forward with the domestic professional league – especially now that his 2020 contract option was declined by Toronto FC.
Telfer scored ten goals throughout 32 appearances for the Nine Stripes this year, while simultaneously grabbing an assist for TFC during a one-match loan recall and making his debut for Trinidad and Tobago, too.
York9 FC gaffer Jim Brennan already stated that the club would love to see Ryan Telfer back, and now that his option has been declined by Toronto FC part of that pathway has opened up. Still, the real question will be whether no other MLS sides take a chance on the up-and-coming Trinidad and Tobago international.
Ashtone Morgan – Toronto FC
One club man Ashtone Morgan has represented Toronto FC for his entire life: after joining the Toronto FC Youth Academy at the age of 16, Morgan made his debut for the senior side two years later in the CONCACAF Champions League and has faithfully represented the reds every year since.
Morgan has made 168 appearances for Toronto FC during his time with the club, though the emergence of Richie Laryea this season saw Morgan drop further down Greg Vanney’s depth charts and limit his 2019 contributions to just 409 minutes of game time.
Still, the well-liked left-back has been a model professional for Toronto FC: he never complains when he isn’t selected, he works hard in training, and he makes some big contributions when called upon (remember that goal against Club America in the Champions League? TFC faithful do).
Ash is a guy you can always count on. He’s always ready, one hundred percent professional, a team player. It’s a pleasure to have guys like that, that when their name’s called, regardless of what’s going on, come in and put in a shift. And you need those guys throughout a season.Jozy Altidore
Toronto FC did state that the full-back could be back, but if Toronto FC’s longest serving player is indeed moving on, it’s hard to think of a Canadian Premier League side that wouldn’t want Mr. Toronto on their roster – though with Morgan earning a guaranteed compensation of $133,500 in 2019, it’d take some good faith on both parties to work things out.
Jordan Hamilton – Columbus Crew
23-year-old striker Jordan Hamilton will be a familar name to TFC faithful: he made 66 appearances for his local MLS side before making the move south earlier this year. He also has two senior caps for Canada, but now finds himself at a cross-road: he’s no longer considered a youth product, and he needs to find a team capable of giving him consistent minutes to prevent his development from stalling.
The Scarborough-born striker had scored four goals in 14 games for Toronto this year before a trade to the Columbus Crew would see him fail to garner significant game time: Hamilton only racked up 56 minutes for the Crew split between four games, with the club evidently finding him surplus to requirements.
The large caveat that comes with a player like Hamilton is his salary: he was making $137,659 in guaranteed compensation earlier this year. While one feels that a player like Hamilton would be a top-tier offensive threat in the Canadian Premier League – which he’s been tuning in to – there would certainly have to be some sacrifices made from both sides if such a move was to come to fruition.
Sean Melvin – Vancouver Whitecaps
When the Whitecaps released 25-year-old goalkeeper Sean Melvin back in October, there were immediately thoughts that the Victoria-born shotstopper would likely be in talks with Pacific FC. With the west coast club having since released Mark Village, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear if such a move was indeed in the works.
After playing for the Calgary Foothills in 2015, the six-foot-four goalkeeper signed a professional contract with VWFC2 the following year, where he played alongside CPL Golden Glove contender Marco Carducci. He then moved along to Fresno when the Whitecaps shuffled its development program, but his time with the Whitecaps ultimately ended without him making an appearance under Marc Dos Santos.
Melvin has one appearance for Canada which came in the form of a half-time substitution against Bermuda, though he was injured shortly after coming on.
Dejan Jakovic – Los Angeles FC
34-year-old Canadian international Dejan Jakovic was always on his way out with LAFC: the veteran defender only made four appearances for the black-and-gold this season, with the club also sending him on loan to the Las Vegas Lights. So, LAFC declining his option for 2020 wasn’t a large shock.
With 41 appearances for Canada (including a sole goal against French Guiana in 2017), Jakovic would provide a veteran presence to any CPL side willing to fit him into the salary cap. That’s the biggest issue: 2019 saw Jakovic make a base salary of $150,000, so he’d need to take a paycut if he was to venture into the Canadian Premier League.
Still, such a move isn’t unprecedented in the fledgling league: when Marcel de Jong moved from the Vancouver Whitecaps to Pacific FC, he was 32 and had been making $160,000 per year in Major League Soccer. By that logic, a 34-year-old Jakovic certainly isn’t off the cards.
Jason Beaulieu – Montreal Impact
25-year-old Montreal Impact academy product Jason Beaulieu won’t be part of the Thierry Henry era at the MLS club, but the homegrown goalkeeper could find himself a good fit in the Canadian Premier League.
Beaulieu signed a professional contract with the Impact last year upon the conclusion of his time with the NCAA team for the University of New Mexico Lobos. He was due to be loaned to the Ottawa Fury this July, but had to have surgery on his knee and was sidelined instead.
The goalkeeper already has an active eye on the Canadian Premier League, where he routinely retweets items that have to do with Forge FC man David Choiniere. What’s more, his agency – NTL Sports – already helped two players move to the CPL last year in Tony Tchani and Emile Legault.
One would assume that the Boisbriand-born goalkeeper would be a great pickup if a Quebec City or Montreal expansion team were ready come 2020, but in lieu of those it’ll be interesting to see if any Canadian Premier League side opts to take a chance on the 25-year-old Canadian goalkeeper.
Aidan Daniels – Toronto FC
21-year-old Ontario-born midfielder Aidan Daniels signed a first team contract with TFC in 2018, but found himself loaned to the Ottawa Fury this season. He made 14 appearances for the now-defunct USL side, though he only racked up a total of 163 minutes throughout them.
Earlier this year, York9 FC assistant coach Carmine Isacco called Daniels a fantastic young player with an amazing upside, but lamented the fact that the Fury was only deploying the youngster for a few minutes at a time. Isacco suggest that the CPL would be a better fit for such talents, and now he may just get his wish.
The Toronto FC Academy Product has represented Canada at the U-17, U-20, and U-23 levels, most recently playing in the 2018 Toulon Tournament alongside the likes of Emile Legault, Noah Verhoeven, and recent CPL-U SPORTS Draft pick Jake Ruby.
Daniel Kinumbe – Montreal Impact
20-year-old defender Daniel Kinumbe is another homegrown signing for the Impact that couldn’t ultimately break into the first team: the left-back was loaned to the Ottawa Fury last season, but only made a handful of appearances before his return to Montreal this year.
2019 would see him routinely ride the bench for an Impact side that missed playoffs, though he did make a sole MLS appearance against the Seattle Sounders, and played for the full ninety in a 2-2 Canadian Championship draw against York9 FC before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
With the MLS club declining his contract for 2020, Kinumbe will need to find a new place of employment in the professional game. It’d be easy to see a CPL side take a chance on the defender, especially given that he’d count as a domestic U-21 player.
Kinumbe also represented Canada at the U-20 and U-23 levels alongside first-year CPLers Yohan Le Bourhis, Emile Legault, Noah Verhoeven, and Jose Hernandez. He’s also represented by Beswick Sports, an agency which has already helped several Canadian athletes make their way over to the Canadian Premier League.
Brett Levis – Vancouver Whitecaps
The Whitecaps released 26-year-old Brett Levis in October, ending a three-year stint that would see the Saskatoon-born defender make 29 appearances at the MLS level as he bounced between the senior team and VWFC2, for whom he ultimately scored eight goals in 52 appearances.
If you’re wondering why a defender scored so many goals, that’s because Levis can switch comfortably between being a left-back and a right winger. For the Whitecaps, he was mostly deployed as a left-back, but failed to make his mark following last year’s departure of Jordan Harvey.
Prior to his time in the MLS, Levis spent time with the Victoria Highlanders while tallying up an immense 29 goals in 50 appearances for the University of Saskatchewan. All-in-all, it’d be easy to envision him making the jump to the Canadian Premier League.
Thomas Meilleur-Giguere – Montreal Impact
This six-foot-one Canadian centre-back has spent most of the last few years with now-defunct USL side Ottawa Fury, for whom he just made 35 appearances for this season while on loan from the Montreal Impact.
The 22-year-old player made 70 appearances for the Capital City club in all, suggesting that if he came to the Canadian Premier League he’d be accustomed to a tough travel schedule and the realities of the professional sporting world.
Meilleur-Giguere has participated in various levels of the Canadian national youth setup, captaining the Canada U-20 team at the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and most recently attending a training camp with the Canada U-23 team last January.
Of course, just because players have had their 2020 options declined doesn’t mean they’re ultimately on their way out of Major League Soccer, but there’s no doubt that Canadian Premier League sides will be keeping close tabs on the above players.
The general consensus from each of the seven Canadian Premier League teams seems to be that the league’s second season will see players of a higher pedigree come into the fold to improve upon an inaugural campaign that already produced a high level of play.
Whether any of the ten players listed above ultimately contribute to that remains to be seen, but it’s good that Canadian athletes like them have the option to continue their professional careers in a professional domestic league.
Image Credits: Canada Soccer, Montreal Impact