A Look At Possible MLS-To-CPL Moves, Part One
It’s that time of year again.
With Major League Soccer sides beginning to announce their end of season roster decisions, the opportunity for Canadian Premier League clubs to secure domestic talent for 2024 is nigh.
We’ve already locked in on several Canadian MLS talents worth looking into, so we wanted to show you the first six MLS soon-to-be-free-agents (pending possible re-entry drafts) that could find their way to Canada’s top flight next season.
Without further ado, here’s the first six who have popped up on our radar, though more potential CPL signings are undoubtedly en route:
Greg Ranjitsingh (Toronto FC)
We had hailed Greg as a goalkeeper looking likely for a CPL move back in 2020, but the Scarborough-born Trinidad and Tobago international then proceeded to bounce all around MLS: he was recruited to the MLS goalkeeper pool, suiting up for the likes of LAFC, Philadelphia Union, and his former side Orlando City all without appearances.
He signed with hometown club Toronto FC last year, but had made just four league appearances without particularly impressing. With Luka Gavran stepping up well, Greg’s time in Major League Soccer may have concluded.
Still, we know Ranjitsingh is a steadfast pro: he won two back-to-back USL Championship titles with Louisville City and has a Forge FC connection through Sigma FC, so we believe the 30-year-old still has plenty left to give.
Kamron Habibullah (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Having only ridden the bench twice under Vanni Sartini this year, the younger Habibulah brother now finds himself a free agent following the 2023 MLS season, though he’s eligible for the re-entry draft.
Capable of playing all over the pitch in both midfielder and final third roles, the former Canada U-20 international is an intriguing prospect who already has CPL experience thanks to his previous loan to Pacific, and still has another season of precious domestic U-21 minutes to give.
Having banked another season of MLS NEXT Pro experience, one has to imagine that the likes of both Pacific and Vancouver FC are waiting in the wings. Right now, the Uzbekistan-born forward looks to be a high-ceiling, low risk youth prospect worth looking into.
Nakye Greenidge-Duncan (New England Revolution II)
New England Revolution II midfielder Nakye Greenidge-Duncan found minutes limited south of the border this year, though his club went undefeated in all nine matches he was involved with. The 20-year-old hails from Toronto, where he joined the TFC academy in 2015 and inked a pro deal six years later. He made his pro debut in USL League One in 2021 before tallying three goals and one assist for TFC2 in their inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season last year.
Having gone through both the Toronto FC and New England Revolution academies, this young midfielder could find the CPL more suited to his development. After getting just 173 minutes this year, he’ll be hungry for an opportunity to prove himself in professional ranks.
Thomas Hasal (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
We’ve been speculating about Thomas Hasal featuring in the CPL for years, but it remains to be seen if the MLS free agent inks a move elsewhere before dropping down to Canada’s top flight.
The 24-year-old had a quiet season following a lot of high-potential buildup, riding the bench for most of the campaign before a patellar injury kept him out for the last three months.
Having opened his first team career with a bang in 2020, the Cambridge-born goalkeeper has made 37 appearances for the Vancouver Whitecaps, recording nine clean sheets along the way. Suffice to say, the high-level experience being combined with a relatively young (but not too young) age will have CPL coaches interested.
Themi Antonoglou (Toronto FC)
Left-back Themi Antonoglou is quite an interesting case: he made thirteen appearances for Toronto FC this season, and fifteen for their MLS NEXT Pro Side. An academy product scouted by Danny Dichio himself, the Toronto-born full-back could be a big score at the CPL level.
Since he can push up into midfield and play on the right flank, he also offers good versatility for a salary-cap league, and at 22 he’s at a good stage in his career to match the high physicality found in the CPL, too.
Another Whitecaps prospect who has already spent time in the CPL, 19-year-old centre-back Matteo Campagna only made it out on the pitch for the Whitecaps once in 2023, featuring against Real Espana in the Champions Cup. Having ridden the bench a few times, he mostly featured in MLS NEXT Pro and has now been moved on.
“We believe now is the right time to go in another direction and we wish them well in the next step of their careers,” said Axel Schuster on the release of Campagna, Hassal, and Habibullah.
Campagna has shown flashes of quality in MLS NEXT Pro, but at this age there’s a lot of question marks around the youngster. There’s plenty of time and room for him to grow (and domestic U-21 minutes to get), but the question is really who’s going to give that in the near future.
With most of the Major League soccer sides still having yet to announce their end of season roster decisions – and that goes doubly for their MLS NEXT Pro affiliates – there’s still plenty to come when it comes to potential MLS-to-CPL movement.
It’s also worth noting that the Whitecaps are still in negotiations with Karifa Yao and Russel Teibert regarding their club options for 2024, for which the deadline is December 1. Both of them should be on the radar for scouting departments from coast-to-coast, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see them stay with the ‘Caps.
As the roster updates continue to come forth, we’ll have more high-potential MLS-to-CPL targets on the docket, too. Stay tuned!