Welcome to CPL50, a series where we’ll reveal the top 50 players from the 2021 Canadian Premier League regular season, as voted on by a panel of coaches from all eight teams and media from OneSoccer and CanPL.ca. For more information on the voting process and method, click here.
What else needs to be said about Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker? The skipper was unstoppable as always in 2021, playing 28 out of 30 CPL contests for the Hamilton club and suiting up for 37 in total across all competitions. Bekker scored five goals this year, three of them in league play, as he led his side to first place in the regular season standings -- as well as a berth in the semi-finals of both the Concacaf League and Canadian Championship. The 31-year-old possesses a unique blend of skill, vision, and workrate; he covers an extraordinary amount of ground in every game he plays for Forge, and he's the true engine of their attacking play. They wouldn't be able to play the possession-based game they so often do under Bobby Smyrniotis without Bekker's ability to pick out a pass and start an attack. He's the heartbeat of their team and the catalyst for much of their chance creation. Bekker proved this year that he can contribute in a litany of ways; he can drop into a more defensive midfield role if needed, or he can push entirely forward. He can contribute on the scoresheet when needed, especially on a quick transition attack, or he can strike a ball from distance. Plus, few players in the CPL can hit a set-piece like Bekker can. In their three-year history, Forge have played 91 total games. Bekker has missed just five of them. He's played more CPL games than anybody else, and he's been among the league's best players since year one. Bekker is the only person to be nominated for the CPL's Player of the Year award in all three seasons, and he won the honour in 2020. Bekker was Forge's first ever signing (alongside Chris Nanco) back in late 2018, joining the club at age 28 after a strong career in North American soccer. After playing at the youth level for Smyrniotis' Sigma FC and at university for Boston College, he went on to represent both Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal) in MLS, and he won the NASL championship in 2018 with San Francisco Deltas. The Oakville, Ontario native also has a solid resume representing his country, having played for the senior national team 18 times in his career.
The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.