This week saw the Canadian Premier League celebrate a milestone moment, as all seven founding clubs reached their 1,000-minute minimum threshold for players 21 or under at the start of the year. Combining for some 37% of all available minutes, the CPL's U-21 talents have been an integral part of the success of the league in this inaugural season, so much so that many of them have become cornerstones for their clubs, and recognizable star names across Canada. In the spirit of celebrating our bright young players, here's who we rate among the top talents in the CPL in this age range:
John Molinaro: Tristan Borges, Forge FC

Tristan Borges entered the inaugural CPL season with a fair bit of hype behind him. The 21-year-old native of Toronto was previously on the books at the youth academy of Dutch club SC Heerenveen, and he impressed upon his homecoming, netting four goals (including three in the playoffs) in seven League 1 Ontario appearances for Forge FC last season. Borges hasn’t slowed down since signing with Forge FC in January. The attacking midfielder currently sits second in league scoring with seven goals, and he has three assists to his credit. But beyond Borges’ stats, what most impressive is the dynamism he routinely displays on the field. For someone so young, he plays with a great deal of maturity and confidence, and he is fearless in the way he takes on opposing defenders. Borges has become a vital cog in the machinery of Forge’s bristling attack (only Pacific FC have scored more often in the Fall season), giving a glimpse of the game-breaking ability the Hamilton club hopes he’ll provide for years to come.
Armen Bedakian: Easton Ongaro, FC Edmonton

Look, I'm all about the narratives. It's my job as a content guy, and it's the one element of the beautiful game I appreciate more than any other. So, when Edmonton's own Easton Ongaro emerged out of the shadows of his significantly more experienced attacking partners and cemented a spot in the Eddies' starting lineup, you couldn't help but be curious to see how it all panned out for the 21-year-old striker. Not to mention, of course, the fact that Ongaro was drafted by Albertan rivals Cavalry FC in the 2019 CPL-U SPORTS Draft. So, with the odds stacked against him, the 6-foot-6 striker went on a tear in the opening half of the Fall stanza, quickly climbing the scoring charts with six goals – good for joint-third – and making a name for himself among the Eddies faithful. He's not just a burly body up top, though; Ongaro is quick, capable of some nimble footwork, and can operate as this bizarre sort of winger-forward at times, unbecoming of a player of his stature but certainly effective for Jeff Paulus' attacking look. While Paulus has been quick to temper expectations before the youngster is heralded as the second coming of Dwayne De Rosario, you can hardly blame the supporters at Clarke Field for instantly taking to Ongaro – he and his family are very much a part of the city's soccer fabric.
Marty Thompson: Zela Langwa, HFX Wanderers FC

Ndzemdzela Langwa has arrived as a top ball-moving and ball-removing fullbacks in the CPL. The now-21-year-old thrives in Stephen Hart’s focus on wing play, playing a key support role for fellow Wanderers standout Mohamed Kourouma. Able to move up in transition with his break-neck pace or passing ability, Langwa’s average 75 touches show he’s a major link for the Wanderers going forward, especially up the flank to Kourouma. The man they call "Zoom" also brings exceptional tackling ability. Over his 1,000-odd minutes played, Langwa leads the league in tackles won (44) with a respectable 73% successful tackle average. Langwa’s ceiling is high; previous stops at Toronto FC, Ottawa Fury and the Vancouver Whitecaps affirm this. With an ability to play higher up the pitch and boasting athleticism for days, this is far from Zoom’s final form. He sits among a talented crop of young left fullbacks, which include Diyaeddine Abzi of York9 FC, Kadin Chung at Pacific FC, and Diego Gutierrez at Valour FC, but Langwa's talent and sheer drive separate him from the rest.

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