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.

Kicking off the top 50 is one of the most defensively sound centre-backs in the Canadian Premier League. Forge FC's Dominic Samuel was a rock for Bobby Smyrniotis at the back this season, playing in 28 of the 30 CPL games they played in 2021 (including the playoffs). The 27-year-old Toronto native has been part of this Forge team in all three seasons, but he embraced a bigger role than ever this past year, stepping into the void left by David Edgar as an everyday started in the middle of the backline. After playing a few different positions under Smyrniotis in the past, including a start at right-back in the 2020 CPL Final in Prince Edward Island, Samuel became an integral part of the picture as Daniel Krutzen's usual centre-back partner this season. Samuel could be counted on at almost every turn for Forge this year, as he went on to make a staggering 37 appearances for the club in this jam-packed season. He was 20th in the CPL in minutes played during the league campaign with 2,138, and he led his team in blocks (13) and aerial duels won (44), and second in clearances (38). Samuel was often tasked with ensuring Forge's back four kept their shape and stayed organized while his fellow defenders pushed forward, offering a calming and stabilizing presence to a defence that conceded the fewest goals in the CPL this year. When he joined Forge in 2019, Samuel had played much of his senior career with Sigma FC in League1 Ontario, though he also had a stint in USL with Rochester Rhinos, as well as a strong college career with Southern New Hampshire University of NCAA Div. II. Since then, he's become an increasingly important part of the Forge setup in Hamilton.

The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.

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