Another former Canadian Premier League star has signed in Major League Soccer. Toronto FC announced today that they have signed former Pacific FC standout Kadin Chung to a first-team contract after a successful pre-season trial. Chung, a 23-year-old right-back from New Westminster, British Columbia, was an integral part of the Pacific squad in all three previous CPL seasons, playing 63 total games for the club. He played every minute of each of the Tridents' CPL playoff games, including their three group stage matches at the Island Games in 2020, as well as the CPL Semi-Final and Final in 2021 as he helped them win their first-ever championship in December. Back in late 2018, Chung (then 20) was the first player to ever sign for Pacific, and he's gone on to play more minutes than anybody else in the club's short history. He joined the team from German side 1. FC Kaiserslautern II, where he'd spent one year after playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps' reserve side in USL for several years. "After being in Germany in 2018 I got back in the summer, and I had to really think about what kind of path I wanted to take after things didn't really work out there," Chung said in an interview this week with CanPL.ca. "At the time there wasn't a lot of opportunities for me, so the CPL really helped me kind of regain the love of the game, and I started to play more for myself and for the enjoyment of it; it helped me fall in love with the game again." Chung also represented his country at several youth levels, including at the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship. In 2015, he was named Canada Soccer's U-17 Male Player of the Year -- an award won the following two years by Chung's then-Whitecaps teammate Alphonso Davies.
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In the most recent CPL campaign, Chung played 29 games for Pacific across all competitions, playing the fifth-most minutes in the entire CPL with 2,279 this past season. Regarded as one of the best two-way fullbacks in the entire CPL, Chung is very rarely beaten one-on-one; he consistently rated among the league's elite defenders in defensive actions and duels won. In 2021, he also contributed to the attack with his overlapping runs and passing ability, and he scored a spectacular goal against FC Edmonton to secure a victory in September: In particular, Chung had a strong relationship along the right side with winger Marco Bustos, with whom he combined superbly on many occasions -- including a remarkable assist on Bustos' heroic late goal against FC Edmonton in 2020, which secured a top-four place for the Tridents at the last possible moment. Chung also played every minute of Pacific's Canadian Championship campaign in 2021, helping them beat MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps in the first round and playing at BMO Field against his new side Toronto in the semi-finals -- and contributing an assist in the 2-1 defeat. Though naturally a right-back, Chung is also capable of slotting in on the left and will be a versatile addition to Bob Bradley's TFC squad. He'll be joining his longtime Pacific teammate, Lukas MacNaughton, who recently signed for the MLS side as well. So, the two defenders -- who have linked up so well over the past three years on Vancouver Island -- may be able to continue their chemistry with the Reds. "It can be a scary thing sometimes coming to a new team where you're not too familiar with people, but having (MacNaughton) here has helped me settle in," Chung said. "Especially in training I can have him right beside me in some of the practices. It's given me a bit of confidence, but he's also introduced me to a lot of the guys; before I even got into pre-season camp he gave me a rundown of what to expect... I lived with him my two first years at Pacific so I know him quite well now." The former CPL fullback will also join the star-studded cast of TFC, playing alongside top-level players like Alejandro Pozuelo, Michael Bradley, and -- later this summer -- Lorenzo Insigne. Chung may not have to wait long for first-team minutes, with both of Toronto's usual right-backs from 2021, Richie Laryea and Auro, moving on from the club this winter. He told CanPL.ca that Bob Bradley has, apparently, had an eye on him for several years now, including when he was coach at Los Angeles FC, and therefore was keen to invite him on trial to TFC's pre-season camp this year. With this news, Chung becomes the third player to sign directly in MLS from the CPL, following MacNaughton and Joel Waterman, who joined CF Montréal from Cavalry FC in 2019. Chung leaves with some parting words of advice for any current and future CPL players who would like to follow in his footsteps: "You can tell each year that the game is growing within the league. My advice would be, someone is always watching. I'm not a flashy player in any way, I don't usually take the headlines or anything like that but I feel like my game's been consistently good over the last three years and it was recognized for it. Someone's always watching, so play with heart, play with honour, and who knows, something could happen."
For more from CanPL.ca's interview with Kadin Chung, click here.