The Canadian Premier League Fan Awards offer supporters a chance to vote on who they believe should make up the Best XI of the 2019 CPL season. But we here at CanPL.ca, poignant and opinionated to a fault as we may be, know well enough that an anonymous ballot just won’t do in this modern era of sports journalism.
So, loyal readers and fair onlookers, we (that’s Armen Bedakian, Marty Thompson, Charlie O’Connor-Clarke, and the intrepid John Molinaro, of course) humbly present our take on the Best XI of the year.
Fair warning must be given ahead of our grand dissection – for, in putting together seven different teams’ worth of players into a unified list, some players will take their natural gifts and apply them elsewhere (basically, we’re doing a 4-3-3, and not everyone fits in nicely, so if we move guys around, #sorrynotsorry).
Also, keep in mind, this version of the Best XI has absolutely no weight and no merit, and really we’re not sure what motivates its existence except for the simple fact that we at the editorial desk are gluttons for punishment, it seems – so please, tweet at each of us and tell us why we’re collectively and individually wrong (and dumb??).
Very well then – onto it:
CanPL Editorial’s Best (Cumulative) XI of 2019
So, here it is – CanPL.ca’s Best XI of 2019. There are quite a few familiar faces, though, perhaps not in the positions you’d normally expect to see them. Still, for a makeshift lineup, this is as good as the CanPL.ca vote says it gets. Starting at the back, Marco Carducci is between the sticks, the result of his Goalkeeper of the Year-winning campaign; Canadian internationals Dominick Zator and Amer Didic are joined by CPL Champion Daniel Krutzen and the league’s best left fullback Diyaeddine Abzi in forming a solid, dynamic back four.
Julian Büscher takes his midfield versatility – he’s the best Jack-of-all-trades in the league, for our money – and applies it behind Kyle Bekker and Tristan Borges, the league’s version of the Bash Brothers. Is it defensively solid? Probably not. But, good luck trying to overrun a midfield featuring three astute passers with strong vision and footwork.
Rounding out the lineup are Ryan Telfer and Marco Bustos playing left and right wing fiddle to Terran Campbell up top, giving this team a perfect balance between pacy runs and fleet-footed dribbling skills, alongside a physical go-getter with a nose for goal.
Armen Bedakian’s XI:
No, this is not the 11 people who will be helping me rob the Bellagio Casino upon my imminent and likely-regrettable foray to Las Vegas in the coming weeks (which is unfortunate, as I imagine some of my imagined cohorts would be rather adept at the art of high-stakes heist-craft). Rather, my XI is compromised of players who I believe to be rock stars of the CPL. Whether it’s Borges’ MVP-worthy skill, Büscher’s all-around excellence, Diyaeddine Abzi’s baller showings on the left, or Akeem Garcia’s versatility up top – and, of course, Marco Bustos, my pick for 2020 MVP, if things go right at Valour – this team features talented options in every position. Shoutout to Luca Gasparotto, a solid defender who I believe has tremendous upside. Other than that? Pretty standard across the park.
Marty Thompson’s XI:
A few tweaks at the back to the winning formula that became our cumulative best XI. Abzi is joined by Morey Doner, bringing York9 FC’s league-best fullbacks (and two nominees for the Fan Awards XI) forward. Hard-tackling Zator makes his way to the inside as one of the best right-sided centre backs in the league, and he’s joined by the more technical and left-footed Krutzen. The midfield and forward line are untouched, as the front six was a no-brainer for me.
John Molinaro’s XI:
Unlike my colleagues, I went with a 4-4-2 formation rather than a 4-3-3 setup. I like the idea of having a strong duo up top as the main reference point in attack, so I picked the best two forwards in the CPL this past season: Terran Campbell and Dominique Malonga. There is just something about a traditional, 1-2 scoring punch duo that appeals to me, and I think the young Campbell and veteran Malonga would combine well together and work off of one another to great effect. Going with two up front means Ryan Telfer doesn’t play quite as advanced, but he’d still bomb forward in this setup. As for the defence and the goalkeeper, I don’t think you could come up with a much better defensive unit.
Charlie O’Connor-Clarke’s XI:
I’m putting Zator in at right-back just because I absolutely had to find a way to include both Krutzen and Didic. The former was probably the best left-sided centre-back in the league (and, sometimes, one of the best defensive midfielders out there), and the latter was just a force all year — he darn well earned that Canada call-up. I, like Armen and Marty, went with the 4-3-3 here, pretty much just to find a way to fit Ryan Telfer, Marco Bustos, and (obviously) Tristan Borges in the same lineup.
Also, I will always take an opportunity to wax poetic about Julian Büscher. He’s the best all-around midfielder in the CPL — probably one of the best players, period. I will not be taking questions on this matter.