A Deep Dive On Every Canadian In the 2023 MLS SuperDraft
With the 2023 MLS SuperDraft set to take place tomorrow, we wanted to take a close look at every eligible Canadian who’s up for consideration.
There are 19 of them in all, which is a big rise from nine last year. Names like Moise Bombito, Malcolm Johnston, Levonte Johnson, and Christian Curti might lead the pack, but there’s a lot of Canadian talent on offer for this Wednesday.
Without further ado, here’s a deep look at all nineteen of them:
Albert Kang – Loyola University Maryland, Midfielder
Central midfielder Albert Kang arrived to Maryland from the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy, having also featured for both the Saskatchewan and BC provincial teams. Having trained abroad in both England and Italy prior, his time stateside saw him firmly establish himself as a hard-working performer in the middle of the park.
Kang’s final season in Maryland saw him appear in all seventeen matches for the side, bringing his total appearance tally up to sixty. He also suited up in USL2 with the Long Island Rough Riders, making 18 appearances this year after being named the side’s Young Player of the Season in 2021.
The 21-year-old can also play as a defensive midfielder or an attacking one, described as being someone who can do the ‘dirty work’ to help the rest of the players shine on the pitch. An unsung gem can have plenty of value, but it remains to be seen if he’s earned enough attention for the MLS SuperDraft.
Brayden Borutskie – Liberty University, Defender
Bradford native Brayden Borutski arrives to the SuperDraft after spending the last few years with Liberty University, where the right-footed defender looks to have blossomed. A former Toronto FC Academy prospect who can also push up into a defensive midfield role, Borutskie offers a good level of versatility along the back.
This year saw the defender feature for League1 Ontario expansion side Simcoe County Rovers, making five appearances. It was a long gap since his last spell in League1 Ontario which came through Toronto FC III back in 2018. At the youth level, he also developed with the likes of Glen Shield FC, Bradford Eagles, Kleinburg Nobleton, and in the Huronia District, too.
Christian Curti, Syracuse University – Defender
It’s been an entire year of winning for Christian Curti: the six-foot-three defender helped the Orange to 2022 National Championship, prior to which he featured for League1 Ontario champions Vaughan Azzurri during their undefeated season this summer. If that isn’t entering the draft on a good note, nothing is.
Curti has been a regular for Syracuse since arriving last year, recording 41 starts in 43 matches. He showed plenty of versatility for the Orange this year, helping lead the defense to concede the fewest goals per game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Prior to that, he was a big addition to Marist College when he arrived in 2018.
If he doesn’t go in the draft, he’ll have close ties to new Halifax Wanderers head coach Patrice Gheisar, who let the defender join an age-up group with Vaughan and saw him flourish in his seven League1 Ontario appearances this season. His years with the club also saw him win the U-17 and U-18 Ontario Youth Soccer League Championships, the U-21 Provincial Elite Soccer League Championship, and the Disney Soccer Showcase Division Championship, too.
Daniel Nimick, Western Michigan University – Defender
English-Canadian centre-back Daniel Nimick had quite the fall campaign with WMU, contributing an astounding eight goals and one assist through 21 matches. He’s a defender, mind you.
He became just the second player in Western Michigan history to be named MAC Player of the Year, recently adding an All-American Second Team nod to the pile.
The four-year Bronco finished his team in Michigan with 65 appearances, with his breakout goal tally this year bringing his all-time scoring chart to twelve, with seven assists. While his attacking contributions were off the charts, his defensive contributions also helped WMU finish as the top-ranked defense in the nation for average goals against.
Nimick developed with the Leeds United Academy and eventually landed with hometown club Harrogate Town, where he captained the U-19 side before his transition to the USA.
Evan Ince – California Baptist Men’s Soccer, Goalkeeper
North Vancouver’s own Evan Ince was a longtime prospect at the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy and, before his university days, was the starter for the ‘Caps U-17 side that reached the final four of the USSDA playoffs. TFC Assistant coach Paul Stalteri also had a close eye on him for the Canada U-17 preparation camp back then, too.
Last year he arrived to California Baptist University by way of the the University of Massachusetts. His debut season saw him record a 0.82 goals against average after eight appearances, though this year he’s had a smaller role with just two. If an MLS side doesn’t take a bite, he’s one to watch for a CPL side like Pacific or Vancouver FC.
Gurman Sangha, University of Portland – Forward
Standing at six-foot-one, Vancouver Whitecaps Academy product Gurman Sangha isn’t just a threat on the ground level. The Coquitlam-born forward finished his second season with the University of Portland by making 21 appearances, contributing a career-high six goals and six assists. Before his time in purple, he suited up for the University of Memphis and contributed six goals and seven assists in 42 appearances
Sangha spent this summer as part of the inaugural Whitecaps FC League1 BC squad, having also formerly played for eventual champions TSS Rovers.
Jalen Watson – Pennsylvania State University, Defender
Six-foot tall defender Jalen Watson arrived to Penn State from the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy after developing closer to home with the Erin Mills Soccer Club in Toronto. The 22-year-old has been typically deployed as a centre-back, though he’s comfortable out on the left flank too.
He now concludes his Penn State career having made 59 appearances for the blue-and-white, sixteen of which came this year. He helped the backline reach the Big Ten Tournament, where he accrued an All-Tournament team honour despite a first-round loss in the competition.
Josh Belluz, Villanova University – Midfielder
Young defensive midfielder Joshua Belluz broke into the starting ranks at Villanova right from his freshman season, where his physical size and passing vision cementing him as key player for the Wildcats. He’s accrued 42 appearances for the side since joining in 2019, having developed with Ontario’s Vaughan SC before that.
The Toronto-born midfielder – who can also drop into the back line – accrued youth trophies aplenty with Vaughan, including multiple OPDL Charity Shields and OPDL Ontario Cups. He featured once for the League1 Ontario side back in 2019.
Justyn Sandhu – Simon Fraser University, Goalkeeper
Richmond, BC native Justyn Sandhu is a bonified Whitecaps Residency product carrying on a family tradition: his father Didar was a goalkeeper for the ‘Caps back in the club’s USL days and represented Canada at the 1991 Pan Amrican games.
The six-foot-two goalkeeper spent his first three university seasons with Saint Bonaventure University, recording nineteen appearances before making the jump to Simon Fraser University this year. He made an incredible 17 appearances for SFU this year, recording six shutouts and finishing with an average of just one goal against per game.
He also spent this summer with League1 BC side TSS Rovers, who made history as the first team to hoist the trophy. That accolade helped Anthony White to a first overall pick in the CPL-U SPORTS Draft, so it’ll be interesting to see if Sandhu can replicate that attention for the SuperDraft.
Levonte Johnson, Syracuse University – Forward
Johnson enters the draft on a high after helping Syracuse University to its first-ever NCAA National Championship this year. The Brampton-born forward was a key element to the ‘Cuse attack, contributing ten goals and six assists after arriving from Seattle University last spring. He procured eight match-winners for the Orange, with his final goal being the one that sent them into the final.
A former member of the Portland U-23s, Johnson has proven prolific every step of the way in his journeyman university carrer: He had ten in twenty for Eastern Florida State, eleven in eighteen for Salt Lake Community College, and nine in twenty-two for Seattle University before arriving to Syracuse.
That’s a lot of consistency in new environments, which could be a big selling factor in the draft. As a teenager, he also accrued fifteen appearances in League1 Ontario for Master’s FA, and that’s at a point when he was a young teen playing against much more developed players. Make no mistake, Johnson is a big one to watch.
Logan Chung, University of British Columbia – Midfielder
Port Coquitlam’s own Logan Chung developed with the Whitecaps Residency Program and just wrapped his best season yet with the UBC Thunderbirds, appearing in all 22 appearances for the side. He scored a goal against the Montreal Carabins in the semi-final before the team lost out to U SPORTS National Championship hosts Thompson Rivers.
He’s now made 52 appearances for UBC, recording ten goals and six assists. Chung also looked sharp this summer while playing with League1 BC side Varsity FC, who finished champions of the regular season before losing the final against the TSS Rovers.
And yes, he’s the younger brother of Toronto FC’s Kadin Chung.
Malcolm Johnston, University of Maryland – Midfielder
Touted as one of the top Canadian picks in the draft, Malcolm Johnston – Alistair’s brother – has proven to a composed and consistent midfielder in Maryland. His second season captaining the side saw him contribute six goals and eight assists in just seventeen appearances, earning Big Ten All-Tournament Team honours.
He’s been a starting midfielder for all four of his seasons in Maryland, making 61 appearances, fourteen goals, and thirteen assists, with Johnston cementing himself as the club’s de facto pentalty kick taker due to his cool demeanor.
He had also featured for the Vaughan Azzurri back in 2018 and 2019, where he was molded by both Patrice Gheisar and Carmine Isacco – two coaches who have produced ample national team talent. Having now wrapped his time in Maryland, Johnston will hope to emulate his brother’s drastic rise in the professional ranks – and he looks set to enter it the exact same way.
Matt Chandler – Wisconsin University, Defender
Standing at a towering six-foot-six, 22-year-old defender Matt Chandler made 21 appearances during his first year in Wisconsin, recording two goals and one assist as the seventeenth-seeded Badgers exceeded expectations this year.
Chandler arrived to Wisconsin by way of St. John’s University, where he earned a degree in sports management and featured no less than 52 times for the Red Storm. Having been named to the Big East Conference All-Academic Team from 2018 through to 2021, the big Toronto native can certainly impose himself here.
Moise Bombito – University of New Hampshire, Defender
The only Canadian on this list be named to the Generation Adidas class, Moise Bombito is coming off a stellar season with the University of New Hampshire, where he’s been named the America East Defender of the Year while securing an ALL-ECAC First team selection, too.
The Montreal native helped the University of New Hampshire to an astoundingly low 0.5 goals against average, with Bombito then impressing at an MLS College Showcase ahead of the draft. He previously spent two seasons with the Iowa Western Rivieres, where he accrued 39 appearances and proved effective on both ends of the pitch, contributing five goals during his time in the midwest.
That versatility comes as no surprise to those who saw the central defender develop with CS Saint-Laurent as a teenager, where he once plied his trade as a forward. He transitioned to a defender and impressed with PLSQ side CS Saint-Hubert in 2020, at which point the six-foot-four defender revealed he was open to a CPL move.
While that move never came, a Generation Adidas membership suggests that Major League Soccer heights might now be beckoning instead.
Nathan Simeon – San Francisco University, Defender
Montreal-born centre-back Nathan Simeon got his start through the CF Montreal Academy, but changed his trajectory stateside after accepting a scholarship opportunity to join Orlando City’s development academy through Montverde Academy. He made fourteen appearances in his rookie season before progressing to USL League One side Orlando City B.
His time with San Francisco University started in 2019 and grew his influence over the years, proving to be an influence on both ends of the pitch. He started all seventeen matches for the Dons in his senior campaign, leading the team with eight assists. This season also saw the five-foot-eleven defender sign with the San Francisco Glens in USL2.
At 22, he’s now at a pivotal point in his career and will prove an intriguing prospect for MLS sides looking for someone who can help at both ends of the pitch.
Nick Christoffersen – University of Pennsylvania, Goalkeeper
Standing at six-foot-two, Toronto native Nick Christoffersen is coming off a season that saw him start all 18 matches for the University of Pennsylvania. The team captain recorded the best Ivy League goals against average with 0.73, and has proven to be a crucial leader for the team who drastically increased his influence from the last season.
He also developed with the Toronto FC Academy as a goalkeeper, and rode the bench for Toronto FC 2 back in 2019. In the same year, he spent at three month training stint with HB Koge, and before that was named a U-21 provincial champion in 2017, claiming the U-21 Goalkeeper of the Year award, too.
Salvatore Mazzaferro, University of South Florida – Defender
After helping the University of South Florida punch upwards into the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Soccer tournament, big defender Salvatore Mazzaferro is hoping his momentum can launch him into the professional game.
Described as anchor for the SFU backline, he was named to the USC All-East Region Third Team following a campaign that saw him feature in all but five possible minutes through USF’s seventeen matches. He made 59 appearances in all during his four seasons in the Sunshine state.
Mazzaferro, who has Italian heritage, had also developed with the Toronto FC Academy, where he made three appearances for Toronto FC III in League1 Ontario back in 2018.
Stephen Afrifa-Kodua – Florida International University, Forward
Toronto-born striker Stephen Afrifa-Kodua wrapped a career-high campaign for the Panthers, contributing ten goals and four assists through nineteen appearances. Florida International University introduced themselves to the American conference with both regular season and championship wins before reaching the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Stephen, who once played for League1 Ontario side Woodbridge Strikers, earned two offensive player of the week nods in the conference, with his prolific senior season also seeing him named to the All-Tournament squad. Overall, he’s posted big numbers with 23 goals and 11 assists during his four seasons with the Panthers.
Thomas Gardner – University of British Columbia, Midfielder
Thomas and drafts are an iconic duo: he has been selected in the CPL-U SPORTS Draft no less than three times, twice by Pacific FC and once by FC Edmonton. He made ten appearances for FC Edmonton in 2021 before returning to UBC, and while the Eddies no longer exist, former head Alan Koch surmised that he would’ve tried to convince Gardner to enter the draft again this year if they did.
Gardner had accrued plenty of prior professional experience through the Whitecaps FC 2, where he made forty appearances before the team was replaced by affiliate side Fresno FC and he opted to focus on his education.
The 24-year-old has been an ever-present force during the Thunderbirds’ march to the U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship final this year, contributing one goal and five assists over 22 matches. He came up big in the knockout stages, scoring the opener over Montreal in the semi-final and assisting the equalizer in the final, though it ended with a silver medal.
Prior to his final season with the University of British Columbia, Gardner joined League1 BC side Varsity FC, who finished top of the regular season table before losing the final to the TSS Rovers – a team he suited up for in 2018. After three prior draft selections elsewhere, it’ll be interesting to see if the MLS can finally help him secure a permanent return to the professional level.
With no less than 19 Canadian players eligible for the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, it’ll be exciting to see which players can grasp the opportunity and pull themselves into MLS heights. Of course, there’ll also be a number of CPL teams watching: two of last year’s nine eligible Canadians eventually landed in the Canadian Premier League, with former draft option Charles Auguste recently inking a player agency deal ahead of an expected move to professional ranks.
The 2023 MLS SuperDraft will take place on Wednesday, December 21, at 5:00PM EST.