Canadian Premier League Reveals 2020 Award Nominees
The 2020 Canadian Premier League season will wrap up tomorrow with a CPL Final match between the Halifax Wanderers and Forge FC, calling curtains on what has been an exciting bubble tournament in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
The league office has formally unveiled the three nominees for four of the 2020 CPL Awards, which highlight the player, coach, goalkeeper, and best U-21 domestic player of the campaign. The golden boot winner will, of course, be decided after Saturday’s CPL Final.
Without futher ado, here’s a look at the nominations:
2020 Canadian Premier League Player Of The Year Award
Marco Bustos (Pacific FC)
After making a high profile transition over to the west coast, 24-year-old attacking midfielder Marco Bustos had an Island Games campaign to remember: he scored five goals and provided three assists in just ten appearances, sending his club into its first-ever postseason with a last-gasp goal against FC Edmonton and made sure Pacific FC bowed out of the tournament with their heads held high with a two goal, two assist individual performance against the Halifax Wanderers last week.
Kyle Bekker (Forge FC)
The Forge FC captain has been an absolute midfield engine for the hammers, with the veteran midfielder dictating play, making smart passes, and providing no less than four goals for his club in Charlottetown.
The consistent performances from Bekker have helped the reigning champions become the only team to reach two CPL Finals, with rumours now circulating that Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos may be looking at picking him up as an option for the MLS side.
The Forge FC Captain was also a finalist for the Player of the Year Award last season, though it went to his Belgian-bound teammate Tristan Borges instead.
Akeem Garcia (Halifax Wanderers)
Akeem “The Dream” Garcia has had a standout year for the Halifax Wanderers: a run of hot form has seen the Trinidad and Tobago international bag an astounding return of six goals in ten appearances, with the 24-year-old finding a knack for making smart runs off the shoulders of defenders.
The scope of Garcia’s impressiveness has some fans speculating on whether the striker will move on to an even bigger stage next season, but right now the main question is whether the current golden boot leader can make a case as the CPL MVP, too.
2020 Canadian Premier League Golden Glove Award
Local Haligonian Christian Oxner found himself sidelined through injury at the start of The Island Games, but the 24-year-old came back strong to retake the number one spot under Stephen Hart and provide two clean sheets for the east coast side as they storm towards a CPL Final appearance this Saturday.
Oxner has recorded 19 saves for the side in six appearances, impressing from the penalty spot and showing a great command of his box throughout his run in the bubble tournament. With performances like that, it’s no wonder he was the first player Hart re-signed for the 2020 season.
Callum Irving (Pacific FC)
The former Ottawa Fury goalkeeper arrived to the west coast side and fought for a spot with Nolan Wirth, with the PFC newcomer going on to make six appearances, 22 saves (the highest of the nominees), and one clean sheet throughout the tournament – though given how many penalties his side conceded, it’s hard to fault him for the latter.
Triston Henry (Forge FC)
No Canadian Premier League goalkeeper has more clean sheets (four) than Triston Henry this year, with the goalkeeper holding on to the number one spot with the reigning champions for two years running. Last year saw the 27-year-old Scarborough native snubbed of a nomination, though he has some tough competition now that he’s made the 2020 season shortlist.
2020 Canadian Premier League Coach Of The Year
Bobby Smyrniotis (Forge FC)
It’s no surprise that the Forge FC gaffer has earned his second straight coach of the year nomination: Smyrniotis has led the hammers to become the only team to feature in two CPL Finals, with the coach and technical director instilling a sense of culture, hard work ethic, and pride for the Hamilton-based club.
He’s build a squad that has shown it can rely on its depth, with an attacking front three that has been rotated on a weekly basis with retained effectiveness. If he can win it all on Saturday, he’d cap off a strong case for the honour.
Stephen Hart (Halifax Wanderers)
Former Canada national team head coach Stephen Hart has made 2020 a year to remember for the Halifax Wanderers: after finishing dead last in the league’s inaugural campaign, Hart completed a near-total rebuild of the Halifax Wanderers and led the side to its first-ever CPL Final appearance.
The big rise of the Halifax Wanderers means that the 60-year-old club gaffer will be a favourite to win the award, with his side currently on a hot form run with four wins, four draws, and just two losses throughout the tournament in Prince Edward Island.
Mista (Atletico Ottawa)
Prior to expansion side Atletico Ottawa’s first kick of the ball, many had wondered if the side could even prove competitive. Mista kept his team within reach of playoffs until the final day of the regular campaign, with the former Atletico Madrid striker making the most of a team who were newly formed, had limited depth, and went into the tournament with a lot to prove.
The 41-year-old has been undergoing intensive language courses as he acclimates himself to life in Canada, and is quite passionate about growing the domestic game here: if all goes according to plan, this may not be the last time Mista makes a coaching shortlist in the CPL.
Best U-21 Canadian Player Of The Year Award
Chrisnovic N’sa (Halifax Wanderers)
With N’sa having made 29 appearances for the Halifax Wanderers over the last two years, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 21. The full-back made waves this season with dangerous and effective runs forward, helping a transformed Wanderers side reach its first-ever CPL Final in the process.
Now fully settled into a right-back role which he rotated into last year, the 21-year-old Montreal Impact product will be hoping to cap off his season with two trophies: a North Star Shield, and a U-21 Player Of The Year soapstone carving.
Mohamed Farsi (Cavalry FC)
The only Cavalry FC player to get an award nomination this year is also the favourite to win it: former AS Blainville man Mohamed Farsi had a breakthrough year under Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and looked absolutely dangerous whether operating as a full-back or a direct winger.
The 20-year-old has appeared in every single fixture for Cavalry FC, marking his debut by winning a crucial penalty. We hailed him as the club’s best newcomer, with the ambitious youngster also scoring one of the best goals of the tournament to kick off the club’s time in the group stage.
Julian Dunn (Valour FC)
The Toronto FC loanee arrived to Valour with a lot to prove, and boy did he make it happen: the six-foot-three centre-back formed a fine partnership with Andrew Jean-Baptiste, playing every single possible minute for head coach Rob Gale. He helped the side complete a night-and-day improvement over its defensive performances last year, with the 20-year-old certainly seeing his stock rise by the time Valour FC’s campaign came to a close.
He could have single-handedly led Valour FC to its required U-21 minutes, too.
Many had said this would be one of his final opportunities to catch the eye of Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney, so it’ll be interesting to see what a U-21 Player Of The Year nomination does for the TFC II local.
The winners of the individual awards will be selected in a voting process by a judging pannel comprised of reporters from coast-to-coast across Canada. As shown last year, these individual awards come in the form of beautiful soapstone Inuit carvings from Cape Dorset (Kinngait), Nunavut.
The Canadian Premier League has not yet stated when the 2020 Canadian Premier League Awards Ceremony will take place. Of course, the golden boot leader will be decided following the CPL Final tomorrow, which kicks off at 2:00PM EST.
This year’s nominations came mostly as expected, though a case could be made that Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah was hard-done by to be excluded the list of top head coaches. Still, it’ll be interesting to see who ultimately picks up the awards at the upcoming ceremony.