Here Are The 2023 CPL Player Of The Year Nominees
At long last, the final Canadian Premier League award has its nominee list put forth.
The Nikisuittuq – or player of the year – seeks to highlight the player who’s performances culminated as the best in class. The type of athlete who turns up for their club day-in and day-out, changing games by a culmination of talent, willpower, and some absolute magic.
Without further ado, here are your five 2023 CPL Player of the Year nominees:
Kyle Bekker – Forge FC
The first nominee is none another than Forge FC Captain Kyle Bekker, the midfield engine who has set the tempo behind a side now heading to its fifth final in just as many years. The 33-year-old is an absolute lead-by-example mentor to those around him, consistently pinging head-turning passes. He’s contributed an astounding seven assists through the regular season, adding three goals to boot.
This marks Bekker’s fourth nomination in five years, with the club captain finishing a runner-up in 2019 and 2021, having won the award in 2020. He’s also second in the CPL’s all-time assists. As 2023 has continued to show, Forge FC is Kyle Bekker, and Kyle Bekker is Forge FC. They are both flag bearers for the CPL.
Manny Aparicio – Pacific FC
Always imposing himself in the Pacific midfield, Manny Aparicio contributed four goals and five assists as he pierced and proved all across the pitch.
The tireless attack-minded baller was second-highest in the league for winning possession in the opposition third, and fourth amongst outfield players in recoveries while leading his team in shots taken.
The six-time team of the week entrant now finds himself earning back-to-back player of the year nominations, and he absolutely deserves the recognition.
Lorenzo Callegari – Halifax Wanderers FC
The expectations were always going to be high when news of a Frenchman who’d played for Paris Saint-Germain was destined for the CPL, and boy has Lorenzo Callegari delivered. His passing vision has been on another planet, with the Halifax midfielder leading the entire league with 2,046 passes overall – a stat miles ahead of anyone else.
Callegari is an athlete who can take the ball and simply make magic – when he had the ball, players are drawn in, and he still produces something to take your breath away. A league-high 233 recoveries reflects his steely influence in the middle of the pitch, with Monsieur Callegari putting on a weekly show that culminated in Halifax getting its first-ever home playoff game.
Cavalry forward Ali Musse had himself quite a season up too, tally eleven goal contributions split between five goals and six assists.
The 27-year-old’s fast feet allowed him to rack up chances for his club, heads team of the week an astounding seven times and was one of top league outfield player athletes for not just shots and crosses, but recoveries as well.
Daan Klomp — Cavalry FC
Cavalry’s Flying Dutchman is also nominated for the Defender of the Year Award following a stellar iron man campaign that saw Klomp firmly establish himself as a league-leading centre-back who appears ready for the next level.
The 25-year-old helped Cavalry record the best defensive record in the league ahead of hoisting Canadian Premier League Shield. Klomp led the side for aerial duals won (54), clearances (81), blocks (17), and total passes (1716), the last of which was third highest league-wide. More than that, you could see his influence everywhere in the defensive third, though he also contributed four goals and one assist at the opposite end, too.
With all the nominees finally in, it won’t be a long wait to see who will ultimately host the beautiful Innuit soapstone carvings that the league has curated to honour its best and brightest. The 2023 CPL Awards will take place in the CPL Final host city (Hamilton, Ontario) on Thursday, 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 Golden Glove, Coach Of The Year, Defender Of The Year, the Best Canadian U-21 Player Of The Year, and the ultimate prize in the aforementioned Player Of The Year.