In a young league featuring plenty of bruising centre-backs, towering centre-forwards, and defensive midfield units, an interesting trend has emerged across Canada.
Fleet-footed and diminutive attacking midfielders and wingers have ruled the statistical roosts, scoring goals in bunches and bamboozling their more physically-imposing markers with technique-first approaches. Sure, Canada’s national team fold may feature a healthy crop of big-bodied battlers, but does the future of Canadian soccer belong to these craftier talents?
Here are the top 5 diminutive attacking talents from across the Canadian Premier League.
5. Akeem Garcia (HFX Wanderers FC)
The Trinidad and Tobago international turned heads for Stephen Hart’s side during the Spring portion of the season, scoring four goals in 15 matches, including the very first goal in HFX Wanderers FC’s club history. Since then, Garcia has emerged as a versatile option for Hart’s attacking line, slotting in at striker in the absence of Luis Alberto Perea, and figuring on either wing, as required. At 5-foot-6, Garcia is an ever-present threat in front of goal with his combination of speed and timing.
4. Marco Bustos
Marco Bustos came into Valour FC after the start of the season but immediately figured his way into Rob Gale’s plans, making himself a starter in an already-crowed attacking lineup due to his unpredictability and trickery on the ball. Most recently, the 5-foot-6 midfielder-forward earned applause for scoring as Sebastian Giovinco-esque a goal as we’ve seen in the Canadian Premier League thus far, cutting left and right and left again to burn his marker off a corner kick routine, before driving toward the FC Edmonton backline, driving home a well-struck shot, and completing a 3-1 come-from-behind victory.
3. Tristan Borges (Forge FC)
Coming in at No. 3 on our list of diminutive attackers is the man who so often garners his “Gorgeous Borges” nickname due, in part, to the absolute jaw-dropping nature of his attacking contributions. Borges was one of the early bright spots of the Canadian Premier League, with the 5-foot-7 midfielder – scratch that, winger, as he clarified on OneSoccer – first catching national attention by way of an Olimpico goal from a corner kick. It’s just one of many magic moments that Borges has enjoyed this season as one half of the Borges and Bekker show, with the 20-year-old also challenging in the Golden Boot race, sitting second with seven goals, one behind Terran Campbell of Pacific FC.
2. Sergio Camargo (Cavalry FC)
How many players can say they helped orchestrate one of the biggest David vs. Goliath triumphs in their country’s soccer history to date? That’s exactly what Sergio Camargo and the rest of his cohorts at Cavalry FC pulled off during their Canadian Championship elimination of MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps. Beyond that moment of history, Camargo has been one of Cavalry’s key pieces as they took the hill and won the Spring portion of the 2019 campaign, with the 5-foot-7 attacking midfielder scoring 5 goals and recording 2 assists thus far in the regular season.
1. Manny Aparicio (York9 FC)
As far as diminutive attackers in the Canadian Premier League are concerned, none are more technical, tricky, and outright frustrating to play against than York9 FC captain Manny Aparicio. A nuisance in the middle of the park capable of line-breaking passes, dizzying dribbles, and an occasional rocket goal from distance, Aparicio is also a battler in midfield … and something of a yellow card magnet, as such. If you’re looking for a creative, crafty attack-minded Canadian, look no further than the 5-foot-6 frame of Manny.
Who’s on the flip side of this particular list? Check out OneSoccer’s feature examining some of the league’s towering talents, too: