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.
We’ve reached the top three of CPL50, and it’s time to talk about Pacific FC star Marco Bustos.
The talented right winger was undeniably one of the top players in the CPL in 2021, with seven goals and six assists for the Vancouver Island club this year, but his season was unfortunately limited to just 17 league matches due to a knee injury. He missed a two-month stretch in the middle before returning briefly, but he re-aggravated the issue in Pacific’s Canadian Championship match against Toronto FC and ultimately missed out on the team’s two playoff matches.
Though Bustos was forced to watch from the sidelines for the biggest moments, he was nonetheless a major part of Pacific’s road to the championship in 2021. Were it not for his dominant play in July and August, they might not have been so comfortably in a playoff spot. Early in the season, Bustos seemed to be running away with the Player of the Year award, which slipped from his grasp naturally due to his injury.
The 25-year-old proved himself to be very easily among the CPL’s elite in 2021. His attacking vision is unmatched — his ability to spot a teammate for a pass, or to beat a defender on the dribble and create a shooting opportunity — and he has the confidence to score in ways that many players might not even attempt. He has a cannon of a left foot, which has scored a fair few unbelievable goals from well outside the penalty area as well. In his three-year CPL career to date, Bustos has scored 19 goals and provided 13 assists.
Bustos led the CPL in successful 1v1s in the box (10), despite playing almost 1,000 fewer minutes than his closest competitors, and he’s the only player in the league to average more than three successful 1v1s per 90 minutes. Bustos also landed in the top 10 in the CPL in shots on target per 90, key passes per 90, and completed passes in the attacking third.
The Winnipeg native signed for Pacific before the 2020 season, after spending 2019 playing in his hometown for Valour FC. Prior to that, he’d bounced around a few clubs, though most of his early career was spent in the Vancouver Whitecaps system, where he did briefly break into the first team. He met and played with many of his current Pacific teammates while at Whitecaps 2, as well as coach Pa-Modou Kah.
Bustos has played for the Canadian senior national team six times, his most recent call-up being in early 2021.
The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.