York 9 forward Ryan Telfer reacts after a goal against Montreal Impact in the second half of a Canadian Championship soccer match at York Lions Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
CanPL.ca Debate: Which CPL player has biggest point to prove in 2020?
The Nine Stripes’ inaugural (and leading) goal scorer returns to York Region in quite different circumstances to his initial arrival. Rather than a highly-touted loanee from Toronto FC, he’s a fully-fledged member of York9 FC.
Although his encore at the club might not have been in the team’s initial off-season plan, Telfer is now the crown jewel in the new-look York9 lineup. He was one of the best players in the CPL in 2019, and with a better supporting cast in the attack for 2020, Telfer should be expected to provide some more assists on top of his goalscoring form this time around.
The 26-year-old’s stock seemed to take a bit of a dip since the end of last season, with TFC releasing him and his move to Nea Salamina Famagusta perhaps underwhelming those who thought Telfer might have aimed higher.
Telfer’s return to the CPL seems to have an air of conquest about it: he was good in 2019, but he intends to dominate this time. He’s probably capable of being the best player in this league; will he be?
– By Charlie O’Connor-Clarke
MARCOS BUSTOS, PACIFIC FC
Marco Bustos was one of the best players in the CPL last season, bagging eight goals and tallying three assists in 27 appearances in all competitions for Valour FC.
But Bustos’ exploits weren’t enough to lift Valour out of the doldrums, as the Winnipeg-based side finished second-last in the overall standings, and sported the third-worst attack and the worst defensive record in the league.
In the aftermath of the 2019 campaign, Bustos became one of the CPL’s biggest free agent targets, as he had discussions with teams and coaches from around the league. Ultimately, he decided to leave Valour and sign with Pacific FC, thus reuniting with former teammate and current Tridents coach Pa-Modou Kah.
Make no mistake about it: All eyes will be on Bustos at Pacific should there be a 2020 CPL season. He’ll obviously wants to build upon a solid debut CPL campaign in which he often showed flashes of brilliance. But fans and pundits will also want to see whether he made the right move to start anew at Pacific, or whether he should have stuck around and been a part of Rob Gale’s rebuilding project at Valour.
At Pacific, he’ll be expected to not only score goals, but also help orchestrate the attack and offer leadership to the team’s slew of young players – as one of the main reference points in attack, Bustos will have to link up with Mexican newcomer Alejandro Diaz and Terran Campbell.
It’s a tall order for the youngster, who opted to leave his hometown club in Valour and headed out west to play for Kah at Pacific.
– by John Molinaro
EASTON ONGARO, FC EDMONTON
To prove last year was no fluke, young Easton Ongaro has to hit the ground running with FC Edmonton in 2020.
The 22-year-old’s first year as a professional was an incredibly successful one, scoring ten times for the Eddies. But as other standout CPLers garnered interest from MLS clubs or abroad for breakout campaigns, Ongaro’s camp was awfully silent, save for his European passport news.
This leaves the question: has Ongaro done enough to earn a move?
There are holes needed to be filled in his game. For one, the Edmontonian scored all ten goals inside the 12-yard box, proving a master of the one-touch redirected goal… but not much else. His lone assist came just outside the penalty spot, too, when he flicked a ball to Oumar Diuock.
Statistically, Ongaro’s link-up play hasn’t been great either. He averaged 12 passes-per-90-minutes in the CPL Fall season, well below the league average of 17 as recorded by SportsLogiq. While Jeff Paulus insists his technical ability is there, it’s fair to say we haven’t seen it yet.
Paulus has also insisted Ongaro as a much “stronger” specimen in camp, adding he’s one of “the top three fittest players on the team” as far as their running testing goes. An improvement in speed will be a much-needed addition to Ongaro’s game as he often struggled to create space on one-v-ones in 2019, lacking mobility against speedy fullbacks.
Is it too much to suggest a young striker like Ongaro has the most to prove? Maybe. But, I would offer, these expectations come on the heels of a breakout season – and with loads of potential for a big move.