We start with the crown jewel of the Open Trials. Ranked third out of 1,400 trialists in overall fitness testing, Son Yongchan quickly made a name for himself as a top target, matching physical prowess with technical skill.
Murofushi was a step ahead of the Japanese contingent at the Vancouver Island trials this fall. Described as a midfield general, Murofushi’s box-to-box style and effectiveness on both sides of the ball caught the eye of CPL coaches.
Prior to the Open Trials, he captained Singaporean side Albirex Niigata to a domestic quadruple, winning the league, as well as two domestic cups and a community shield, all while going unbeaten.
Clearly impressed with the midfield general’s ability, York9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan brought the 27-year-old to the fold in York in January, inking him to a contract.
“He’s explosive and exceptionally quick off the ball,” Brennan said. “He’s going to be a great asset to our club.”
A technically good midfielder, Iida found himself literally at the top of the list of Open Trialists in Laval. Scouts complimented his ability to stay composed “at all times” while recognizing and adapting to the speed of the game. The 23-year-old was highlighted as one of the best-attacking players at the entire trials as well.
HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart shipped Iida over to Halifax on Feb. 21, along with fellow Open Trialist Kouame Ouattara.
Nicknamed “the Beast” at the first of the seven trials, 27-year-old Ouattara was a clear standout in Halifax. Playing centreback and central midfield, the Ivorian-Canadian was noted for his aerial prowess and physicality. He scored a goal in one of the trial games, impressing HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart even more.
“He told me his best position is in midfield, so I told the other coaches we should give him a chance there,” Hart said about coming across the Moncton native.
Hart announced the signing of Ouattara earlier this month, making him the second Open Trialist to join the Wanderers so far.