The 2023 CPL Midseason Transfer Tracker
With the midseason transfer window open, clubs have moved quickly to make the necessary adjustments to ensure they lock in one of the five playoff spots up for grabs at the end of the year – especially with a first-place finish now meaning Champions League glory.
The midseason moves have come in thick and fast, and even with the international transfer window closed we’ve had a flurry of activity. Here’s all the moves that have gone down:
In: Alberto Zapater, Ruben Del Campo, Omar Darwish, Aiden Rushenas (Re-Signed), Tyr Walker (Re-Signed)
Out: Junior Agyekum
IN: Alberto Zapater
The biggest midseason transfer is undoubtedly that of Alberto Zapater, the former captain of Real Zaragoza. Having made 422 appearances for the Spanish club through two separate spells, he’s donned the armband with aplomb (and faced Messi, no less). There’s no doubt Zapater is expected to be a big leadership figure in the nation’s capital, and he seems ready for the challenge.
With a storied career has seen over 100 appearances throughout La Liga and Serie A, there’ll be plenty of eyes watching to see how he performs in the Canadian Premier League. At 38, it remains to be seen how a league filled with turf pitches and long travel periods will impact his game – but the experience and influence he can bring to Atletico Ottawa certainly seems worth the risk.
IN: Ruben Del Campo
Swiss-Spanish striker Ruben Del Campo is a U-23 international who had shown spurts of promise over in Spain. He arrives as a free agent having last played for San Fernando CD, where a hot start fizzled out to a long dry spell. Keen to reignite his form, the former Atletico Madrid youth product is reuniting with Carlos Gonzalez, who needs some attacking firepower – especially with Malcolm Shaw away on Gold Cup duty.
The striker has played around Europe with other clubs like Portuguese side FC Famalicao and Spanish sides CD Numancia, UD Melilla, and San Fernando CD, but this will represent his first time playing in North America.
IN: Omar Darwish
Teenage midfielder Omar Darwish returns to Atletico Ottawa for a second development stint after having cemented himself as a key figure with PLSQ affiliate OSU Atletico. The 2005-born West Ottawa Soccer Club product was initially recruited last year after being identified through the club’s Atletico Madrid Development Program, and even travelled with the team for Spain in this year’s preseason.
Atletico Ottawa club brass believe he can make the jump up to a professional setting, which a developmental permit allows him to do a handful of times without impacting his amateur status. While he didn’t get to make a debut last year, there are high hopes that he can take to the pitch in 2023.
IN: Aiden Rushenas (Re-Signed)
The Halifax Wanderers tore up Aiden’s U SPORTS deal and signed him to a standard pro contract, extending his stay from its previous mid-August deadline to the end of the season. It keeps the club roster compliant, and permits Aiden – who rode the bench for every match this season – to take his first steps as a full-fledged professional.
The Dalhousie Tigers shot-stopper is still awaiting his pro debut, with the 20-year-old having impressed on the training pitch since his arrival there in 2022. While it remains to be seen if Rushenas will get to test himself, it’s nice to see the former North Toronto Nitros goalkeeper continue the AUS school-to-Halifax-Wanderers pipeline, too.
IN: Tyr Walker (Re-Signed)
Having signed a U SPORTS contract back in April after scoring against UD San Sebastian De Los Reyes in the club’s preseason, local defender Tyr Walker went fully professional with Ottawa in August.
The 19-year-old had made a couple of appearances for the capital city club in the time since, making his debut against Vancouver FC and featuring against a top-of-the-table Pacific FC side. Head coach Carlos Gonzalez likes what he sees from the Russel, Ontario youngster, so we expect he’ll collect a few more minutes before the season’s end.
OUT: Junior Agyekum
Despite plenty of hype following his draft selection, Thompson Rivers University midfielder Junior Agyekum mutually agreed to terminate his contract without making a pro debut.
The 21-year-old was highly-touted after helping his university side to a National Championship last year, but the Calgarian ultimately failed to force his way onto the pitch at TD Place. It remains to be seen where the six-foot-one defensive-minded midfielder will land next.
In: Mael Henry, William Akio, Eryk Kobza (Re-Signed)
Out: Jose Escalante, Mikael Cantave
Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s first midseason addition is none other than 19-year-old attacking midfielder Mael Henry, who arrived in a player-swap from Vancouver FC. The Montreal native is a sparky Canada U-20 international known for fast footwork and a feisty attitude, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on at Spruce Meadows. He’d made three appearances for Vancouver FC to start off his first pro season.
Cavalry FC needed to land a third domestic U-21 athlete to reach the league’s minimum number for player’s in that age category, with Goteh Ntignee and Gareth Smith-Doyle representing the other two. They’re roughly one quarter of the way up to the required 2,000 minutes handed out to them, suggesting Mael Henry – who will be eligible in this category for multiple years – is due some game time.
IN: William Akio
South Sudan international William Akio had used a successful spell with Valour FC to catapult himself over to Ross County, but unlike with his younger brother Victor Loturi, the move didn’t stick.
After being loaned to Raith Rovers in the second division, Cavalry swooped in to secure his Canadian return on a two-and-half-year deal.
Akio’s ten goal tally with Valour shows that his explosive pace can prove potent in the CPL, and it looks like a move that works well for both parties at this stage of the season.
IN: Eryk Kobza (Re-Signed)
After University of Calgary midfielder Eryk Kobza made fourteen appearances for Cavalry, it was no surprise to see Tommy Wheeldon Jr. secure him on a fully professional in the summer. The 21-year-old is now signed through to 2025 with a club option for a further year, with Cavalry impressed by his adaptable nature both in the middle of the park and when dropped into the back line.
Having played in both the Polish second and third divisions previously, Kobza is one for the future – a potential successor to Charlie Trafford, and one already capable of locking in minutes.
OUT: Jose Escalante
The biggest saga of the Canadian Premier League transfer window has to go to Jose Escalante: we tipped that the Honduran midfielder was set for FC Motagua, who duly announced him a week later – but then Cavalry interjected, saying that while he was on al leave of absence he was still on contract with them!
The situation took two weeks to sort out, with Jose Escalante officially being loaned to FC Motagua on a one-year deal. He’s said a farewell to Cavalry, however, so it’s unclear what will happen afterwards.
OUT: Mikael Cantave
Canadian-Haitian winger Mikael Cantave departs in a play-swap for Vancouver FC youngster Mael Henry. Cantave had made 24 appearances over the last one-and-a-half seasons with Cavalry, contributing three goals and two assists before a rumoured breakdown with head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
It’s an experience-for-youth swap: Cantave has plenty of knowledge from the Spanish lower leagues, where he played for nine clubs in five years before plying his trade with Romanian top flight side AFC Chindia Targoviste and moving to Cavalry. That time is now over, though Cantave will have multiple opportunities to suit up against his former side this season.
In: Beni Badibanga
Out: Ashtone Morgan (retired)
In: Beni Badibanga
Forge’s first (and so far, only) foray into the midseason transfer window sees the three-time CPL champions look to Belgium yet again.
New Belgian-Costa Rican forward Beni Badabanga arrives as a former Standard Liege youth product who once suited up for Belgium at the youth level. He comes in from semi-pro Belgian third division with RAAL La Louiviere, so the big question will be if he has the talent to stick things out at the professional level.
After making 41 appearances for the hammers and securing a North Star Shield winners medal last year, Mr. Toronto is calling curtains on an iconically Canadian career.
The 32-year-old left-back announced a surprise retirement midseason, with the veteran completing a storied career that included ten seasons with hometown side Toronto FC.
In: Doneil Henry, Yorgos Gavas, Jordan Peruzza (loan)
Out: Ryan James (injury – out for season), Ludwig Amla (Doping Violation)
IN: Doneil Henry
Major League Soccer and Canadian national team veteran Doneil Henry made the move out east as a vote of confident in Patrice Gheisar, who coached several of his teammates the national level.
With over 200 appearances to the big centre-back’s name, Henry will arrive as a big force on the pitch and in the locker room, too. Despite a bouncing around three MLS clubs in two years, he’s adamant that he has a lot left to give – and he’s ready to provide receipts out east.
IN: Yorgos Gavas
At just sixteen years of age, local Halifax teenager Yorgos Gavas will see if he can spark an early career booster while on a developmental deal with his hometown club.
The left-foo-ted left-back featured twice for the Wanderers U-23 side this season, prior ot which he spent time out west with the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy. As a hometown kid, there’ll be plenty of Halifax faithful hoping he has what it takes to step up to the professional level full-time.
IN: Jordan Peruzza (loan)
The Halifax Wanderers brought in TFC forward Jordan Peruzza for the remainder of the 2023 CPL season, and we expect it to be a great fit for both parties: Peruzza needs minutes, but arrives raring to show why Toronto FC signed him to a first team deal in 2021. Jordan brings a tenacity in front of goal that fans immediately saw in his substitute debut, and we expect that the 22-year-old will fit nicely into Patrice Gheisar’s system.
OUT: Ryan James
Halifax Wanderers full-back Ryan James opted for surgical intervention following a tough injury against York United, and will miss the remainder of the season as a result.
The 29-year-old had made
The Mississauga native had made six appearances for Halifax since arriving from Birmingham Legion, with the former 2016 MLS SuperDraft pick having fought hard to establish himself in Patrice Gheisar’s squad.
OUT: Ludwig Amla
In a shocking turn of events, Ludwig Amla has received a two-year ban for a doping violation pertaining to an asthma medication prescribed while he was in Europe.
The 22-year-old striker secured was deemed to be negligent rather than malicious in his usage of Bricanyl, and a hearing with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada saw his ban reduced from the standard four years to two, with a provisional suspension period meaning he won’t be able to train or play football until February 7, 2025.
Amla featured eight times for Halifax last year, but was suspended in the midst of preseason in 2023. Given that he’s under contract this season with a club option for 2024 – a year he’ll still be banned – we may have already seen him suit up in blue for the last time.
York United FC
In: Carson Buschman-Dormond, Trivine Esprit (Re-Signed), Adisa De Rosario (loan)
Out: Lassana Faye, Marikiyan Voytsekhovskyy (injury – out for season), Oussama Alou, Osaze De Rosario (Doping Violation – One Month)
IN: Carson Buschman-Dormond
At 20 years of age, Vancouver native Carson Buschman-Dormond ticks a lot of boxes for a York United side in need of domestic U-21 minutes: he’s physical for his age, hungry for minutes, and can be deployed both as a left winger and a left wing-back, where they needed depth.
Having spent the last two seasons with the FC Zurich U-21 side on loan from the Estonian top flight, Buschman-Dormond arrives as an intriguing midseason addition – just as Ronan Kratt did one year ago. If he can perform anywhere near those levels, he’ll give York United its much-needed youth minutes in spades.
IN: Trivine Esprit (Re-Signed)
The Nine Stripes handed Trivine Esprit a U SPORTS contract about a month ago and bumped that up to a pro standard contract before the midseason transfer window ended, ensuring the 21-year-old midfielder would remain a source of much-needed domestic U-21 minutes for the full season.
Esprit, who had accrued League1 Ontario experience through the likes of Unionville Milliken, Simcoe County Rovers, and Darby FC, has shown some great leaps in development whilst training with the York United first team he now calls home – it’ll be interesting to see how he develops as a full-fledged professional for the remainder of the campaign.
IN: Adisa De Rosario (loan)
The Nine Stripes brought in Toronto FC II goalkeeper Adisa De Rosario on loan to cover for Eleias Himaras, who’s out for the month following a meniscal surgery. He’s expected to help the club get a few domestic youth minutes after having made three starts for TFC2 this season.
The 18-year-old was previously loaned to Halifax last season, after having secured a rise up from the TFC Academy and having been called up for a Canada U-20 camp ahead of the Concacaf U-20 Championship, too.
OUT: Lassana Faye
The Nine Stripes announced the departure of Dutch left-back Lassana Faye prior to the window’s opening. Faye had landed well at the CPL level, featuring in all but one match and finishing second in the squad for both tackles won and interceptions. Unfortunately, a family situation back home saw the 25-year-old put in a transfer request, and York United were kind to oblige. His transfer to Dutch second division side SC Telstar followed quickly.
OUT: Markiyan Voytsekhovskyy
Canadian-Ukrainian youth prospect Markiyan Voytsekhovskyy was just getting started when his season came to an abrupt end this summer: suffering a fractured fifth metatarsal against Halifax, the 19-year-old is now out for the season.
The young man was just eight games deep into his rookie campaign, where he’d recently scored his first professional goal against Vancouver FC. Instead, he’ll now be focused on a long-term recovery while York United pivots for its source of youth minutes.
OUT: Oussama Alou
Dutch midfielder Oussama Alou was a frequent feature York United’s Martin Nash, making 18 appearances since his arrival from FC Utrecht and nabbing four goals across all competitions. The fast-footed midfielder was never afraid to take on opponents, making dribbles aplenty and looking strong at the CPL level.
Like his compatriot Lasanna, however, the Dutchman felt quite homesick and requested to mutually terminate his contract in order to return to the Netherlands. In a move of compassion (and not for the first time), York United allowed the athlete to depart midway through the season.
OUT: Osaze De Rosario (Doping Violation – One Month)
In a move that surprised many fans simply for existing, Osaze De Rosario has been sanctioned to a one month ban after testing positive for THC last season. The nearly one-year delay between test and sanction adds more confusion to the mix, with the player – who was York’s only striker with more than one goal at the time of the news – now set to miss a pivotal part of York’s season.
The 22-year-old states he unknowingly ingested THC in an edible while at a dinner function, but the overarching discussion has switched to why the substance is still a prohibited in the context of this sport. Beyond being legal in Canada, the likes of the NBA, NHL, and MLB have all stopped testing for it, with former TFC striker Jozy Altidore chiming in to call the suspension ridiculous.
In: Ahinga Selemani
Former Cavalry forward Ahinga Selemani is back in the Canadian Premier League after a fruitful stint with Maltese side Gudja United preceded a drier spell down south with One Knoxville SC.
The 27-year-old centre forward hopes to ignite a spark in Winnipeg, who face a growing gap between themselves and a playoff spot after scoring just thirteen goals in sixteen matches.
In: Mikael Cantave, Alejandro Diaz, Renan Garcia, Vasco Fry (Loan), Ivan Mejia
Out: Emmanuel Robe, Mael Henry, Gael Sandoval, Eugene ‘Pele’ Martinez, Khalil John-Wentworth
In: Mikael Cantave
Arriving through a player-swap with Cavalry FC, Mikael Cantave is set to bring much-needed attacking experience to a very young expansion side. The 26-year-old Canadian-Haitian had made 24 appearances over the last one-and-a-half seasons with Cavalry, contributing three goals and two assists.
A sharp winger with plenty of experience playing abroad, he had been a regular feature for Tommy Wheeldon Jr, though his minutes took a sharp drop when the calendar turned to June – perhaps now we know why.
In: Alejandro Diaz
Pacific’s all-time top goalscorer and last year’s golden boot winner (despite leaving in August) is coming back out west…but for Vancouver FC instead.
Mexican striker Alejandro Diaz is set for a loan spell from Norway’s Sogndal IL, where regular minutes have avoided the former Liga MX and Pacific man. Now returning to a league where he’s tallied over thirty goals, there’ll be high hopes he can help lift VFC up the league table.
IN: Renan Garcia
The young-leaning Vancouver FC got a big experience injection with Brazilian midfielder Renan Garcia, who clocks in all the way up at 37.
There will be understandable questions on his match fitness: while he brings European experience aplenty (particularly with helping Sampdoria achieve promotion eleven years ago), it’s now been some time since he was an active professional footballer.
Still, Ghotbi’s gable to secure a veteran leadership figure is now on the table – only time will tell if the tough midfielder settles in better out west than his outbound counterpart, Gael Sandoval.
IN: Vasco Fry (Loan)
Having proven to be a consistent performer at the MLS Next Pro level, Whitecaps FC 2 midfielder Vasco Fry will spend the remainder of the season on loan trying to help neighbouring side Vancouver FC right the ship.
The 23-year-old – who made two appearances for Peru at the U-17 level – will certainly get a good sniff at minutes, though how he fits into Ghotbi’s side remains to be seen. With Fry having featured in the Concacaf Champions Cup for the Whitecaps earlier this year, he’ll be hungry to prove he can play top level.
IN: Ivan Mejia
In a move we predicted two months ago, TSS Rovers midfielder Ivan Mejia has now completed his transition to professional football with expansion side Vancouver FC. The 22-year-old Colombian-Canadian has looked a treat at the League1 BC level, helping the Rovers to the inaugural League1 BC Championship last season before helping them surpass Valour FC in the Canadian Championship this year – a history-making occasion.
Capable of pulling strings in the middle of the park and shifting himself out on the flank, it’s clear that Afshin Ghotbi likes what he sees from Ivan Mejia. Now he’s just got to prove he can following in the footsteps of teammates like James Cameron and Anthony White, who have made the big step up to CPL action look easy.
Out: Emmanuel Robe
French striker Emmanuel Robe never found much of a groove in the Canadian Premier League, with head coach Afshin Ghotbi only handing him 106 minutes of game time through five appearances, the last of which came in May. Despite a youth pedigree that included Crystal Palace, his contract was quietly cancelled by mutual consent, freeing up an international roster slot at the club.
OUT: Mael Henry
The CPL’s newest club also offloaded 19-year-old attacking midfielder Mael Henry, who was deployed out on the right flank and made three appearances before being traded to Cavalry in a player-swap for Mikael Cantave. The Montrealer had arrived as a highly-touted prospect from the MLS Academy level, even suiting up for Canada at the U-20 level – though whether he gets more minutes outside of Vancouver remains to be seen.
OUT: Gael Sandoval
Dubbed a statement signing when he arrived this spring, Liga MX Gael Sandoval didn’t reach the heights he was hyped for: his only goal came from the penalty spot, and a handful of assists didn’t translate into enough joy for either party.
Vancouver FC and Sandoval mutually terminate their dead in July, a move that happened in a quiet line of text amidst the news of Renan Garcia’s arrival.
OUT: Eugene ‘Pele’ Martinez
Belizean international and first-year-pro Eugene ‘Pele’ Martinez had arrived to the club through an open trial process, but he’s now back where he started after agreeing to the mutual termination of his contract.
Making 12 appearances for Vancouver FC, the centre-back endured a tough end to his time out west: he was handed a three-match ban for violent conduct, and his last appearance saw him earn a straight red card six minutes into a 1-5 loss to Cavalry.
OUT: Kahlil John-Wentworth
The fact that we’re using a Simcoe County Rovers picture for the left-back says it all: while he looked like a strong prospect to jump to the professional level, the 21-year-old never broke through with Afshin Ghotbi’s expansion side and mutually terminated his contract after failing to make an appearance.
He becomes the fifth nixed contract of Vancouver FC’s inaugural campaign, which is quite a sobering number for a club which thought it make win the league in the first year or two.
As the midseason transfer window continues, we’ll keep this page update with the ins-and-outs of all Canadian Premier League clubs active in the window. It’s been an in interesting one so far, and we’re soon see which moves bring a rise and, inevitably, which ones will fizzle out.