5 MUST-WATCH new signings of 2022 Canadian Premier League season
A new Canadian Premier League campaign brings with it a whole flurry of new roster moves to break down and examine, so in that spirit...
... here are five newly-acquired players to keep a closer eye on during the 2022 season:
Amer Didic, Pacific FC
Joel Waterman and Lukas MacNaughton have both made the jump to Major League Soccer at CF Montreal and Toronto FC respectively, but before many CPL fans even knew of the two center-backs, it was then-FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic who seemed most likely to earn a move up.
That, obviously, has not yet happened for the Canadian international, who, despite earning regular call-ups to John Herdman's camps, hasn't had the right sort of environment to really showcase his skills.
He does now, though, suiting up for the CPL champions, bringing with him a propensity for long ball passing that fits right into the Tridents' style of play. If ever there was a breakout year for Didic to finally prove his worth, it's now – and, if he does, you can be sure an MLS team or two won't be waiting long to hit up his phone, either.
Ballou Tabla, Atletico Ottawa
A huge storyline out of the nation's capital, Atletico Ottawa made headlines across Canadian soccer circles with the full signing of former CF Montreal and FC Barcelona B winger Ballou Tabla, who joins new head coach Carlos Gonzalez's side with plenty of expectations... and concerns.
Montreal fans were quick to point out that Tabla's opportunity at Ottawa could be his last, if the 22-year-old can't find the right mentality and work ethic to carve out success. Tabla's ceiling remains high, though – HFX Wanderers FC fans can attest to that – so it's not to say that Ottawa fans shouldn't expect immediate contribution from Tabla.
This could be a match made in heaven for a new organization looking to gain reputable credibility in local player development spheres, and for a player who has experienced plenty of pressure in his young career. Tabla could use a place to simply rediscover a love for the beautiful game (and, if so, come out with a Golden Boot at the end of it).
Ashtone Morgan, Forge FC
Speaking of former MLS-ers now calling CPL home, Ashtone Morgan's decision to return to the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area and join Forge FC comes at something of a perfect time in his own career.
For the faithful followers of the Reds, Morgan represented all the qualities you'd like in a locker room guy – smart, charismatic, charming even, humble and hard-working. Adding that kind of leadership to a locker room that also includes a friend in Kyle Bekker makes this a perfect fit... in the training grounds, at least.
On the field, Morgan, 31, is slated to replace Kwame Awuah, who himself is chasing an MLS dream by signing for MLS NEXT Pro team St. Louis City SC 2 ahead of next season's MLS expansion. But for Morgan, stepping into left-back here isn't just a chance to be an important player; it's also an opportunity to see through the remainder of his career on a much-deserved high, all while giving back to the game in Canada.
Plus, Morgan's already got a reunion date set with Toronto FC in the 2020 Canadian Championship Final. Talk about perfect timing.
Zachary Fernandez, HFX Wanderers FC
Between Diyaeddine Abzi and Mo Farsi, it's become clear that scouting out of PLSQ can be quite a lucrative proposition for those CPL coaches who can unearth those hidden gems.
HFX Wanderers FC head coach Stephen Hart figures he may have plucked another speedy winger/full-back from the same pipeline in Zachary Fernandez, who joins the team out of A.S. Blainville.
“Zachary is a player we have monitored for a while now,” Hart offered, of the move. “He is extremely impressive with his ability to get up and down the pitch, joining the attacks and taking care of his defensive duties.
If the Wanderers have indeed procured a player similar in stature or style to Fernandez's PLSQ predecessors, it'll be a huge get. So, let's see, shall we?
Mamadou Kane, York United FC
There are a few interesting new pieces in and around the league, and perhaps Charlie Trafford joining Cavalry FC or Matthew Catavolo at Valour FC are good shouts. But, rounding out this list is, perhaps, one of the most under-the-radar pick-ups in CPL this season, with York United FC bringing in Mamadou Kane out of CF Montreal Academy.
The 18-year-old forward is a highly-touted prospect joining a team that knows exactly how to get the most out of young, highly-touted prospects – see Max Ferrari, Lowell Wright, Ijah Halley, and Isaiah Johnston earning more than 9,000 cumulative minutes last season, for instance.
More than that, though, Kane brings with him a solid resume, even at 18 years old. He's played for Canada's U-17 national team at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, featuring in all three group stage matches, and remains in contention for a U-20 national team call-up just in time for the upcoming 2022 Concacaf Men's U-20 Championship (available on OneSoccer), beginning June 18.
If he can blossom at York United, it'll be another massive W for the Nine Stripes.