Building a side around a core group of important players was just one of the reasons why Cavalry FC was so successful in 2019.
This approach to team building allowed Cavalry to win the Spring and Fall seasons, and reach the semifinals of the Canadian Championship, defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps along the way. In doing so, Cavalry became the first CPL team to beat an MLS club.
So, why mess with a good thing, right?
Looking to keep its core group intact and build on a strong first year in the CPL, Cavalry announced on Wednesday that it has re-signed captain Nik Ledgerwood, defender Mason Trafford, goalkeeper Marco Carducci and attackers Sergio Camargo and Aribim Pepple through the 2020 season.
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“We are delighted to have a strong spine of our team already committed to the 2020 and beyond seasons. This continuity helps continue to build our culture and playing style,” coach and GM Tommy Wheeldon Jr stated.
When you look what each player contributed to the Cavalry cause in 2019 and their potential for 2020, it’s not difficult to understand why Wheeldon was so eager to bring them back next season.
Ledgerwood, a 34-year-old from Lethbridge, AB, scored three goals and tallied one assist in 20 league appearances while serving as Cavalry’s captain. A former Canadian international, Ledgerwood provided the Cavs with a steady and experienced presence in midfield as they won both the Spring and Fall seasons.
Carducci became one of the biggest stars in the CPL during its inaugural season, and was named a finalist for the Golden Glove, awarded to the league’s best goalkeeper. The 23-year-old from Calgary finished with a league-high nine clean sheets and was third overall in the league with 65 saves.
“As a goalkeeper, you get your name thrown out there, but it doesn’t happen without the guys in front of me. That includes even the guys furthest up on the field, the strikers. That’s our collective team effort. Everybody. It’s something that defines this team,” Carducci said after Cavalry’s loss to Forge FC in Finals 2019.
Carducci also became the first CPL player to earn a Canadian national team nod when he was called up for the Reds’ pair of Concacaf Nations League matches vs. Cuba in September.
Trafford, 33, made 22 league appearances and served as the backbone of a Cavalry defence that conceded a league-low 19 goals over the Spring and Fall seasons.
He signed with Cavalry in February after spending the past few seasons with Miami FC in the NASL.
“What’s been built here in such a short amount of time in terms of Spruce Meadows and our ownership group in creating a venue and a culture for soccer here in Calgary has been unbelievable. For me to be a part of it is really special,” Trafford said after Cavalry’s Leg 2 loss in Finals 2019.
“I look back now and think what a decision it was to come to Calgary and be a part of this group.”
Camargo, 25, established himself as one of the league’s most dynamic attackers, scoring six goals and collecting three assists in 20 appearances. Injury problems sidelined him for parts of the season, otherwise we might be talking about him as a league MVP candidate.
Still only 16, Pepple signed his first professional contract with Cavalry in August. He made his debut that same month and went on to make eight league appearances and play in the Canadian Championship.