Here’s The 2023 CPL Coach of the Year Nominees
The 2023 Canadian Premier League season was a race for the ages: the new playoff format made playoff qualification an exciting rollercoaster as clubs jockeyed for a strong finish in a league where the clubs and squads are clearly evolving.
With the CPL Final set for October 28, today sees the Canadian Premier League start to introduce its nominees for the 2023 CPL Awards. These end-of-season honours come in the shape of beautiful Inuit soapstone carvings from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), with the finalists for the CPL’s Coach of the Year award now unveiled.
They are as follows:
Bobby Smyrniotis — Forge FC
Forge is heading for its fifth straight CPL Final, so it’s no surprise to see that Bobby Smyrniotis has been handed his fifth straight coach of the year nomination, too. Having been perennially snubbed at the award ceremony, will 2023 finally see him get a soapstone carving of his own?
Smyrniotis led his side to a second place finish this year, finishing as one of four teams to grab eleven wins in the 2023 campaign. The Hammers once again proved to be a tough opponent under his guidance, going on a seven-match undefeated strike near the end of the season as Bobby once again took a great team from 2022 and introduced new talent to the mix.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. — Cavalry FC
When you look at the regular season, one only needs to see the above picture to tell you which head coach saw the most success. Tommy Wheeldon Jr. guided Cavalry to absolute league domination: after opening with five straight draws, he and the club found a new gear to eventually finish thirteen points clear at the top with a nine-match unbeaten run, eight of which came as wins.
The domestic form saw Cavalry become the first team to pick up the newly-introduced CPL Shield, which also means that Tommy’s team will enjoy Concacaf Champions Cup action next year. The team has scored more goals than any other team while also conceding the least, with the roster boasting two of the three iron men throughout the campaign.
Having won the coach of the year award in 2019, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. enters as a firm favourite for 2023, too.
Patrice Gheisar — Halifax Wanderers FC
In his first year as a professional coach, Patrice Gheisar has delivered on his promise to transform the Halifax Wanderers into a united squad with a refined and entertaining playstyle, bringing the east coast its first home playoff match in club history. The club’s 42 point-tally under Gheisar’s first season was also a club record, which is remarkable given that it took some time to really get cooking in the Atlantic.
The entirety of the Halifax Wanderers squad has clearly bought into what Patrice brings to the table, and it’s no small feat for a first-year pro coach – regardless of his accolades at the semi-pro level – to do that. The fourth-place finishers came one match away from second with him at the helm, leaving plenty of excitement as to what heights he can bring them to in 2024.
The 2023 CPL Awards will take place in CPL Final host city Hamilton, Ontario on October 26. The exciting build-up to the league final will see all of the awards handed out, including the golden boot (which finished as a tie for Ollie Bassett and Myer Bevan, each on eleven goals), the best Canadian U-21 player, the player of the year award, the golden glove, defender of the year, and the aforementioned coach of the year award.
The rest of the award nominees will be revealed by the league over the course of the week.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques