2022 CPL-U SPORTS Draft Roundup
The 2022 CPL-U SPORTS Draft has now concluded, with all eight Canadian Premier Leagues making two picks apiece through the first-ever draft to forgo a snake draft format, with 16 selections being made in all.
This year saw 165 eligible draft prospects make the list after self-declaring, a drastic rise from the 48 eligible athletes from last season. Atletico Ottawa had the top pick of the litter after finishing last in the league’s third season.
The draft saw drama before it even began, with selection favourite Matteo de Brienne being scooped to a pro contract by Valour FC the very same morning the draft eligibility list was due to be published.
This year’s draft was livestreamed across the likes of Twitter, YouTube, and CBC Gem, with Kristian Jack hosting the digital-only even from start to finish. Interested fans can watch the footage here.
Without further ado, here’s how the 2022 CPL-U SPORTS Draft went down:
1: Atletico Ottawa – Jose Cunha (Cape Breton University)
The first pick of the draft was revealed by none other than Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix, who revealed that his compatriot Jose Maria Ribeiro da Cunha had been selected first overall this year.
The 20-year-old centre-back was selected by Forge FC last season, with the left-footed defender coming in as a highly-touted pick who can push up into midfield and contribute with attacking passes, too.
I think Jose is a play that will provide us with a lot of flexibility. He can play as a left-sided midfielder, but also as a solid centre-back. He’s strong in the air and defensive actions, and whoat stood out to us is his ability with the ball and how he is able to break lines and open passes through the oppositionFernando Lopez
Jose is a second year student at Cape Breton University who has developed through both Portuguese sides Sporting Lisbon and Estoril Praia. Described by Kristian Jack as a modern-day footballer with a lot of forward-thinking football, he’s expected to blend in well with the brand of football Atletico Ottawa want going forward.
2: FC Edmonton – Kairo Coore (Cape Breton University)
The de facto top attacking prospect from the draft, 21-year-old forward Kairo Coore scored an astounding fifteen goals in twelve matches over with the Cape Breton Capers, including an astounding four-goal match to highlight a tantalizing U SPORTS season.
The Whitby-born attacker is described by Capers coach Deano Morley as a hungry talent who can score goals with both feet, stating that he’s a player who fans can expect to see score goals at the CPL level.
You can see in the clips already, he’s quick and he scores goals. We knew we needed somebody up stop, and he’s gone and scored in the NCAA and U SPORTS. He’s motivated, hungry, and we’ve had some incredible chats with him.Alan Koch
Koch added that he can play anywhere along the front line, suggesting an element of versatility to his game that will come in crucial as the Eddies look to take their first steps without clutch striker Easton Ongaro.
Coore had also played for NCAA Division II side Saginaw Valley State, where he contributed nine goals and five assists in nineteen games.
Make no mistake: Coore is expected to score at the CPL level.
3: Halifax Wanderers – Christopher Campoli (Ontario Tech University)
The first pick for Halifax is no stranger to the draft, having been picked fourth overall by York United in 2021. The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has proven adept in a number of attacking positions and would help the side collect U-21 minutes, too.
I like how he was direct at times. He can score goals and create goals, he has good vision. He is not a very predictable player, and sometimes you need that imagination, that invention, and he certainly showed it from what we’ve seen.Stephen Hart
Campoli has a prolific record in U SPORTS action, recording an astounding twelve goals in eleven games for Ontario Tech this season. He’s also kept busy in League1 Ontario, scoring five in four for the Woodbridge Strikers after switching over from Unionville Milliken.
With the young attacker described as someone who works well in tight spaces, he’s a player who could have a high upside if he can settle at the professional level, but was let go by York United – sounds a bit like Stefan Karajovanic, no?
4: Valour FC – Raine Lyn (Cape Breton University)
The third Cape Breton product to feature in the opening four selections is none other five-foot-seven central midfielder Raine Lyn, a 20-year-old who is described as a young athlete with a lot of bite to his game.
We like how dynamic he is, and how he gets on the ball. We feel he’s a player who can help us in buildup, he sees the game forward and covers a lot of ground. He can recover a lot of balls for his team, so we’re excited to see how he comes in and meshes with the quality of the midfielder that we have.Phillip Dos Santos
The Burlington, Ontario born 20-year-old will trial as a dynamic option for Phillip Dos Santos, as he can also feature as a right-back, too.
“We’re excited to see what he can bring to the table and how close he might be to competing with everyone else,” adds Dos Santos.
5: York United – Christian Rossi (Trinity Western University)
Martin Nash’s first draft pick in green saw Christian Rossi make history as the third-ever Spartan to feature in the draft, (behind Joel Waterman and Jake Ruby), with the Surrey-born winger now hoping to follow up an explosive rookie campaign with a jump to the professional level.
The 19-year-old contributed an immense five goals and one assist throughout ten appearances last season, earning a U SPORTS Rookie of the Year nod for his head-turning campaign.
He’s dynamic, he’s got place, he can run at players and score goals. He’s a threat for any backline, and he excited me watching him play. I think he’ll be a good fit for us.Martin Nash
Rossi can play both in the middle and on the right flank, which would give Nash plenty of tactical flexibility as he heads into his first season in a head coach role.
6: Cavalry FC – Caden Rogozinski (Mount Royal University)
The Alberta-based side has a lot of defensive filling to do with the departure of Karifa Yao, and so Tommy Wheeldon Jr. is hoping that Calgary Foothills product Cadan Rogozinski can impose himself at the professional level.
The former Calgary Foothills U-23 Captain arrives as centre-back with a lot of upside who arrives as a protégé of sorts from former Cavalry defender Jay Wheeldon.
Caden is a player we’ve been tracking since he was a young player and he is developing nicely into a very well-rounded defender that suits how we want to play. He is a quiet but imposing leader, with an intelligence to him that now has a chance to challenge for a roster spot in 2022 in the professional environment.Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
Rogozinski earned 2021 U SPORTS All-Rookie Team honours, with Tommy even going so far as to say that the MRU defender reminds him of a young Dominick Zator.
The centre-back made thirteen appearances for MRU last season, showing plenty of pace and bravery while also establishing himself as a leader at a remarkably young age.
7: Forge FC – Guillaume Pianelli (University of Quebec Trois-Rivieres)
Six-foot-four centre-back Guillame Pianelli is set for a trial at Tim Hortons Field after featuring 24 times for UQTR, whom he helped to a U SPORTS Championship in 2019.
He’s a player we’ve known for a while now going through previous U SPORTS draft and watching him over a couple of years. He’s a very good defender, he can play and move the ball out of the back, which is important to us and the way we want to play.Bobby Smyrniotis
Born in Bastia, France, the physical defender developed overseas with third national division side side EF Bastia after progressing through the SC Bastia youth development program.
Smyrniotis says he ticks a lot of boxes for the two-time league winners and three-time finalists, who already enjoyed success with UQTR product Gabriel Balbinotti.
8: Pacific FC – Luca Ricci (University of Montreal)
The reigning champions got the final pick of the first round, selecting Montreal-born midfielder Luca Ricci. The 23-year-old will arrive to training camp as a well-known ball-playing midfielder who already has experience at the professional level, making him an interesting prospect out west.
He’s got an excellent background and he has professional experience with the CF Montreal Academy, he spent time with the PHeonix rising and Ottawa Fury in USL, so he has experience in profesional environments which was very interesting to us.James Merriman
Ricci had spent four years with the CF Montreal Academy, and even had an emergency loan stint with the first team in 2019. As Merriman mentioned, he also spent time with USL Championship sides Phoenix Rising and Ottawa Fury, making him one of the most experienced U SPORTS athletes up for grabs.
Merriman said he had great vision to try and find the forward passes and had the technical ability to perform in tight spaces, with the 23-year-old expected to come in as a bright addition to the reigning champions.
9: Atletico Ottawa – Julien Bruce (University of Montreal)
The 22-year-old Parisian winger arrives as a strong-looking attacker who had even trained with the PSG Academy at a young age, with Bruce coming off of a title-winning U SPORTS season with the Montreal Carabins.
Suffice to say, his stock is on the rise.
Julian is an incredible athlete. He’s a handful for defenders whether he’s playing on the left or right wing, and he offers a threat not only by running behind but also his exceptional driven abilities.Fernando Lopez
Lopez states he’s an intriguing prospect that Atletico Ottawa is eager take a look at, especially given that he’s proven to be a big game player: he scored the 114th minute goal that helped the Carabins reach a penalty shootout in the national championship – and they’d eventually win that, too.
Whether he wins a contract with Atletico Ottawa remains to be seen.
10: FC Edmonton – Quentin Paumier (University of Montreal)
The third straight Carabins athlete is none other than team captain Quentin Paumier, who led the side to a national championship title last season. Koch liked what he saw from the midfielder, who can offer the side good technical ability and composure in the middle of the park.
We think he has a fantastic football brain. He has a great technique, you saw the goal he scored in the national championship. We love the intensity he plays with, and we’re excited to bring him in and take a look at him. He’s the type of player we want to see in midfield compose ourselvesAlan Koch
Paumiere had developed with both hometown club Olympique Marsielle and the Cote Bleue Academy in France, with the RSEQ and U SPORTS all-star also offering an option for set pieces, too.
11: Halifax Wanderers – Colin Gander (Guelph University)
The Halifax Wanderers filled a much-needed spot with Guelph Lions left-back Colin Gander, who progressed through the TFC Academy before enrolling in university.
He’s a left wing-back that can get up and down the park, he delivers quality crosses, and he seems to know exactly when to join the attack. That’s important for us because it’s a position of need for us. We’re hoping that it works out for him, and that he enjoys himself here.Stephen Hart
Described as having a strong left foot, the 22-year-old from Kitchener can jump to the opposite flank in a pinch, too.
Prior to landing at Guelph University, he had also been a member of Toronto Skillz FC and had some experience with NCAA side Missouri State University. It’ll be interesting to see if he can crack a Wanderers lineup hungry to become a playoff team again.
12: Valour FC – Jacob Carlos (Ryerson University)
The Winnipeg-based side grabbed a different kind of midfielder for its second option in the draft, bringing in 20-year-old central midfielder Jacob Carlos from Ryerson University.
Described as a more-attacking minded pickup, Carlos offers options both centrally up the pitch and from the wide positions, too.
He’s a player who can get in higher spots, high positions,. who likes to eat space when he has it in front of him. He has good passing ability, but also definition in his play.Phillip Dos Santos
The 20-year-old from Mississauga is no stranger to high-level football, having developed with the TFC Academy, Sweden’s IK Frej, and Portuguese side Academico de Viseau, too.
13: York United – Soji Olatoye (York University)
Brampton-born Soji Olatoye will trial with the Nine Stripes after spending the last two seasons developing under Carmine Isacco, with the York Lions winger being described as an option with good pace and strong one-on-one attacking abilities.
He’s an exciting local talent. His ability to score and create goals is something that really grew me to him. That’s something we’re looking for in this team.Martin Nash
The 2021 U SPORTS season saw Olatoye provide five goals and four assists, with the former Sigma Academy product growing into a leadership role under Isacco.
Before suiting up for York University, Olatoye saw two seasons of NCAA action with La Salle University, where he led the team with six goals and earned Atlantic 10 Conference All-Star honours.
14: Cavalry FC – Markus Kaiser (University of British Columbia)
Given that Markus Kaiser had already trained with the club and had been a member of the Calgary Foothills U-23 program, his draft selection comes as no surprise – as Tommy says, the 19-year-old central midfielder has a lot of upside.
Kaiser graduated from the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club before joining his brother at the UBC Thunderbirds, where he featured in ten games last season and helped the club progress to nationals.
He’s a very technical player who has a great engine on him. He’s got the ability to cover multiple positions on the pitch. He’s got a ten out of ten mindset, and I think sometimes in football we overlook that.Tommy Wheelon Jr.
He’s been described as a midfielder who’s strong in the air with a good passing range, and he wouldn’t be the first Kaiser to field for Cavalry, either: his brother Daniel Kraiser signed a U SPORTS contract with the team last year.
Tommy expects him to immediately compete for a spot when he arrives to training camp at ATCO Field, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can follow in Daniel’s footsteps.
15: Forge FC – Mohamed Alshakman (McMaster University)
Forge FC looked local with its final pick of the 2022 CPL U-SPORTS Draft, bringing in first-year McMaster University midfielder Mohamed Alshakman.
The Hamilton local arrives after a recording a strong rookie season at McMaster University, where he contributed one goal and three assists across nine appearances, with the youngster earning an OUA Central Rookie of the Year award for his efforts.
Mo’s a player we know very well through his time at Sigma, and being with Forge through training periods last season. He’s a central midfielder who is very good, a busy guy who can get the ball forward and into the box.Bobby Smyrniotis
Alshakman had also developed with the club’s League1 Ontario feed club Sigma FC, where he made six appearances last season. The five-foot-eight central midfielder can be deployed as both a number eight and number ten, with Kristian Jack optimistically calling him a potential protégé for Kyle Bekker.
16: Pacific FC – Reese Goertzen (University of Victoria)
Goertzen was born in Calgary but has called Vancouver Island home for several years now, with the six-foot-two defender expected to bring a lot of versatility to the defending league champions should he crack the squad.
The 21-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps Residency product is expected to primarily come in as a central defender, though he’s capable out on the right flank and has suited up as an attacking talent, too.
He’s a local product and he’s a player that the coaching staff at the University of Victoria speak very high of, especially his attitude and his approach to the game. He’s got great athleticism, he’s been very versatile. He came in as an attacking player and ended up becoming central defender who has also played as right back.James Merriman
The six-foot-two athlete has also developed with the Calgary Foothills and Van Isle Wave, and is described a strong reader of the game who can disrupt opposition attacks and play out of the back – a crucial element to Pacific’s counter-attacking game.
That’s All, Folks
The 2022 CPL-U SPORTS Draft has now concluded, with the sixteen selections now set to trial for a U SPORTS developmental contract with their respective sides. Players like Stefan Karajovanovic and Garven Metusala are proof in the pudding that pro contracts can follow, too.
With athletes like Easton Ongaro, Peter Schaale, and Isaiah Johnston showing that draft picks can blossom into starting talent in the growing domestic eague, it’ll be interesting to see how this year’s selections fare in both the 2022 Canadian Premier League season and, of course, perhaps beyond that as well.