Words by Charlie Fox
The Americas is no stranger to football, from the tifos and heated rivalries of Brazil and Argentina all the way to the USA, where MLS has erupted into the mainstream thanks to stars like Rooney and Zlatan. But now there’s a new kid on the block.
You might not have realised it, but April saw kick off in of one of world football’s newest leagues. The Canadian Premier League was announced two years ago but until recently has flown mildly under the radar. That’s right, the country famed for it’s syrup, moose and ice hockey has finally embraced the beautiful game – and there’s big things on the way. The league has promised to showcase the ‘best home-grown Canadian talent’, under the slogan ‘We are many, we are one.’ It’s exciting stuff, so here’s everything you need to know about Canadian football:
Comprised of seven teams spanning across the whole of the ice-clad nation, the league is split into a regular season and a fall season – giving fans more games to enjoy and more opportunities for the league to make a good impression on the world stage. The league’s quest for home-grown talent is helped by it’s draft system, similar to that of American Football and a wage cap also helps maintains the equal nature of the league – ensuring no-one can just pump money into a team and buy all the best players, as has been seen in some other leagues, *cough* Manchester City *cough*.
All sounds pretty good, right? But who are the teams participating in the ‘new era for Canadian football?’ Here’s a complete run-down so you know what to expect:
Cavalry FC are based in Alberta, lying to the south west of Canada, a place famed for its landscape and vast forests. Founded in 2018, the team were one of the founding members of the CPL. They play their games at the Spruce Meadow, a stadium with a capacity of 6,000 and a modular layout, which makes it perfect for later expansion. The team will sport a red strip with a white stripe for their home games, whilst their away kit is a classy green number paired with contrasting white shorts.
Coach: Tommy Wheeldon Jr
Key Player: Dominque Malonga (Congo)
Malonga is an experienced forward, previously plying his trade in France, Italy, Spain and Scotland, with his most successful stint being at Hibernian, where he scored 17 goals in 43 games. On top of this he has secured seven starts for his homeland. A player with this much experience will be a threat for any team in the league.
Just down the road from Cavalry FC are FC Edmonton, who too are in Alberta. The club was founded in 2010 as a NASL franchise, however, were granted CPL admittance in June 2018. With the nickname the Eddies they will play their home games at Clarke Stadium. The stadium has a capacity of just over 5,000 which is 1,000 less than their rivals. Their home games will be spent donning a Millwall-esque dark blue jersey with white trim, whilst the away kit has more of a Huddersfield feel too it, with blue stripes on a white canvas.
Coach: Jeff Paulus
Key Player: Tomi Ameobi (England)
There is another Ameobi brother! Just like the two we are more familiar with, Tomi is too a forward. With experience across the English football League ranging from Leeds to Forest green, taking stops at Doncaster Rovers and Grimsby Town on the way, Ameobi has been at Edmonton since the start of the 2014 campaign, taking a year out to try his hand with FC Cincinnati, who are set to be the newest MLS enterprise.
The first team on the list that isn’t based in Alberta. Forge FC are based in Hamilton, Ontario, a stone throws away from the Niagara Falls. The team with a logo that looks like it belongs to an E Sports team were founded back in 2017. The Tim Hortons Field will be the backdrop to the home games this year, sporting a 10,000-seater stadium which can be expanded to just over 23,000. The kits are pretty much reverses of each other, the fans at home games will see them in a full Orange kit with grey trim, whereas the traveling fans at away games will see a grey kit with orange trim.
Coach: Bobby Smyrniotis
Key Player : Kyle Bekker (Canada)
The first home grown Canadian on the list Bekker is a tricky midfielder who has exclusive footballing experience in North America. Being drafted to MLS outfit Toronto FC back in 2013 was the start of a tour of America, playing at other MLS teams such as FC Dallas and Montreal Impact. Managing to also rack up 18 caps for the Canadian nation team gives the player a strong pedigree.
HFX Wanderers FC
With arguably the most detailed badge in the league, HFX Wanderers, commonly known as Halifax Wanderers are in the Canadian district of Nova Scotia. The second smallest of all Canadian provinces and the furthest east of all is home to the Wanderers Ground, which is a 6200-seater stadium based in Halifax. In contrast to the badges the kits are a more simple affair. Basic navy blue is all over the home kit whereas the away strip is a light blue.
Coach: Stephen Hart
Key Player: Luis Alberto Perea (Columbia)
At the age of 32 Luis Perea is reaching the swansong of his career, having represented close to 20 teams. 8 Countries have seen him score goals, the fans that would have the fondest memories of him would be Universidad San Martin in Peru, having scored 36 goals in 92 appearances. The Copa del Inca top scorer of 2014 and Salvadoran Primera top scorer of 2018 will be looking to get back to prolific ways.
British Columbia was home to the ski resort that hosted the 2010 winter Olympics, as well as having links to Vancouver and a bustling film industry, it seems like the perfect place to home a football team. Pacific FC is situated in Langford and has been there for just shy of a year. Home is called Westhills stadium and can house 5,100 people. The Home kit resembles that of Orlando City, purple top to bottom. The away kit takes the other colour of the badge being a mint colour.
Coach: Michael Silberbauer
Key Player : Marcel De Jong (Canada)
With 56 Canada caps to his name Marcel De Jong is arguably one of the most capped players in the league. Born to Dutch parents he was part of the PSV academy and was part of teams across Europe, before moving back to North America in 2015 when he joined Sporting Kansas City. At the age of 32 he has all the experience he needs to be a vital part of this team.
With my pick for the best looking badge in the CPL Winnipeg based Valor FC are one of the older teams in the League. May 6th 2017 is the date of birth for the side, in comparison to other teams who have only been around less than a year, this team looks archaic in comparison. Sat in a plush 33,000 seater stadium .The kits have the potential to match the logo, a black and red strip for the home kit, with a reverse of proceedings for the away kit.
Coach: Rob Gale
Key Player: Adam Mitter (England)
A journeyman for his age, the 26-year-old Mitter has played at senior level for 14 different teams, ranging everywhere from Scotland all the way to the Philippines. He plays as a Centre back or right back and has proved his worth at many clubs, playing at least 10 games a campaign since 2014. He could prove to be one of the strongest defenders in the league by sheer experience alone.
York 9 FC
With former Canadian international Jimmy Brennan at the helm, York 9 FC are one of the teams who have played a game in the new CPL. The team are based in Toronto, a place with a strong footballing connection to the United States. Appearing in May 2018 the team is barely a year old. Home games
will be played at the York Lions Stadium, making use of its 8,000-seater capacity. The Home kit is a clashing of white and green and the story is continued with the away kit, being a green and black affair.
Coach: Jimmy Brennan
Key Player: Manny Aparicio (Canada)
Argentine born Aparicio plays as an attacking midfielder and at 23 he has plenty of room for development. One upon a time he was part of the Toronto Academy, since his departure in 2015 he has played for teams in Spain before heading back to Canada with York 9 FC. Standing at 5’8 he has a similar stature to a lot of attacking midfielders in the league, however something that sets him apart would be the Canada cap to Aparicio’s name.
Whatever you make of it, it seems there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the future of Canadian football. Next time you’re bored and the Premier League, why not tune into the CPL? Who knows, you might find your next favourite team.
You can find out out more about the CPL here.