We're still in January, but Canadian Premier League clubs are busy fleshing out their rosters for 2021. A staggering two dozen new signings have occurred over the past few weeks across the league, leaving fans to wonder when the next big player arrival in the CPL will happen. With valuable salary cap space being used up by teams, and roster spots still left to be filled, CanPL.ca thought it'd take stock of a few big-name free agents that could find their way to a CPL team in 2021. We stuck with Canadian players who we thought could be good fits, detailing what they could offer the league should they decide to come -- or in some cases return -- to the CPL. Here's the list of names we came up with...
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Ryan Telfer – Midfielder (Last club: York United FC)Could the CPL’s history-maker land back in the league next year? An underwhelming Island Games can be forgiven considering York’s poor attacking output in PEI, and his eight-goal output in 2019. CanPL.ca has learned that some clubs have shown interest in the 26-year-old, who could easily slot into most CPL attacking units and mark an improvement.
Brian Wright – Forward (Last club: Birmingham Legion (USL)The former MLS SuperDraft pick was recently released by his USL Championship team after two seasons – one on loan – and nine goals. The ex-New England Revolution depth option is on the radar of some CPL teams. How many clubs could use a new striker?
Louis Béland-Goyette – Midfielder (Last club: HFX Wanderers FC)Béland-Goyette’s stay in Halifax was shorter than expected, but CPL coaches will see he was bumped out of an in-form midfield in an 11-match season. The sturdy Béland-Goyette has racked up 31 appearances between the Wanderers and Valour FC, making him one of the more tenured midfielders available.
Robert Boskovic – Defender (Last club: TFC II - USL)The 22-year-old Boskovic makes this list after a solid loan spell with Cavalry FC in 2020. A rangy centre-back with good technical skills, the Mississauga, Ont., native fit well in Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s back three. Did he do enough at The Island Games to earn a proper CPL contract?
Chris Mannella – Midfielder (Last club: York United FC)While long-rumoured to return to the nation’s capital, the former York and Ottawa Fury midfielder is still officially on the market. The 26-year-old missed most of The Island Games due to injury, but he has almost 60 appearances at USL-level, so CPL clubs likely won’t bat an eye at the versatile defensive option.
Zachary Verhoven – Fullback (Last club: Pacific FC)The former Pacific wide-man has over 30 CPL appearances under his belt and, at 22, he’s one of the younger CPLers to hit such a milestone. Which club could use a versatile right-sided player: Valour FC are looking for a replacement for Fraser Aird, Cavalry FC could be a good fit, and so could Atlético Ottawa.
Zachary Sukunda – Fullback (Last club: Ekenäs IF - Finland)HFX Wanderers FC’s inaugural signing is available after a stint in Finland where he helped Ekenäs IF finish fourth in 2020. Could the 26-year-old native of Ottawa break back into the CPL? His bounce-back season in Finland would certainly help his chances.
Kyle Hiebert – Midfielder (Last club: Missouri State - NCAA Div 1)A physically imposing defender – capable of playing in defensive midfield and at centre-back – the 23-year-old from Manitoba has marshalled Missouri State to some of the best defensive records in NCAA. Available in next week’s MLS SuperDraft, Hiebert could still get picked up in the American system but, if not, expect to see interest from the CPL.
David Norman Jr. – Midfielder (Last club: Inter Miami - MLS)Former Pacific FC loanee David Norman Jr. is back on the market after a one-year stint at MLS side Inter Miami. While his pre-Miami loan at Westhills Stadium passed by without much fanfare, it’s important to remember his history as a hyped Vancouver Whitecaps prospect. He was even named Whitecaps 2’s Player of the Year in 2017 on a team that featured Dominick Zator (Cavalry FC), Terran Campbell (Pacific FC), and Matthew Baldisimo (Pacific FC).
Jordan Hamilton – Forward (Last club: Columbus Crew - MLS)Coming off an MLS Cup victory with the Columbus Crew, the 24-year-old Hamilton seems a no-brainer for CPL clubs: over 100 appearances for Toronto FC and its second teams, and a handful of Canadian senior team appearances. Could the Scarborough, Ont., native land back home in the CPL?
Anthony Jackson-Hamel – Forward (Last club: Club de Foot Montréal - MLS)Could the former Club de Foot Montréal forward follow in former teammate Shamit Shome’s footsteps? At 27, the Quebec City native is entering his prime years after being released this Fall. It’s no secret the nine-time capped Jackson-Hamel would have to take a pay cut to move to the CPL but, on the same token, he has the potential to be a Golden Boot winner.
Terique Mohammed – Fullback (Last club: TFC II - USL)There’s CPL interest in the 20-year-old Terique Mohammed, who could count towards a club's under-21 minute threshold, just like he did while on loan at FC Edmonton during The Island Games. An aggressive fullback with physical ability, it will be interesting to see which, if any, CPL clubs take a crack.
Luca Petrasso – Midfielder (Last club: TFC II - USL)Michael Petrasso’s younger brother is available after his release from Toronto FC II. Luca, 20, has long been pegged for a shot at CPL level and counts towards under-21 minutes threshold in 2021 if picked up this Spring.