Welcome to CPL Headlines; each Monday during the off-season, CanPL.ca will round up the league’s biggest stories from the past week to keep fans up to date on all the news they may have missed during the league’s busy transfer period.
As the final month of 2023 begins, last week was a busy one around the Canadian Premier League with a number of big announcements.
First and foremost, York United have secured a world-class ownership group which will be critical to the future of the Nine Stripes as a club in a key market for the Canadian Premier League.
The league’s other clubs, however, were busy as well, announcing a number of signings and roster decisions, with some coaching news mixed in for good measure.
Here were the top stories from the Canadian Premier League this past week:
Valour FC sign experienced CPL pair Shaan Hundal and Zachary Sukunda
The rebuild in Winnipeg is well and truly underway as Valour announced their first two signings of the off-season.
Head coach and general manager Phil Dos Santos has set out an expressed goal to put together a team with significant domestic and CPL experience, and his first few signings of the off-season certainly fit that category.
This past week, Valour first announced the signing of 24-year-old striker Shaan Hundal, who with six goals had tied for the goalscoring lead with expansion side Vancouver FC. He should bring some much-needed offence to the club that finished last in goalscoring last year, and, having previously played for Valour during the 2020 Island Games, will have some familiarity with the club as well.
The club has since announced they had put pen to paper with 28-year-old Ottawa, Ontario midfielder Zachary Sukunda, who was the first ever signing in Halifax Wanderers history. Sukunda has since spent four seasons playing professionally in Finland.
Even with Sukunda and Hundal’s services secured, Valour still only have nine players announced as currently under contract for the 2024 season, suggesting there is plenty more movement still to come.
York United purchased by Game Plan Sports Group
The Canadian Premier League announced this past Thursday that Game Plan Sports Group will be new owners of York United, the newly-formed group purchased the club from Canadian Soccer Business.
Game Plan Sports Group is led by brothers Eduardo, Ricardo and Miguel Pasquel, who have extensive connections and experience within the sport in their native Mexico. The three brothers will be moving to Toronto with their families, where they will take on active roles within the club’s day-to-day operations. Eduardo will become the CEO, Ricardo will be the President and General Manager while Miguel will serve as Chief Commercial Officer and Head of New Strategy Alliances.
The acquisition not only means further opportunity for York United as a club, but key connections with Mexican football as a whole which could be hugely beneficial for the league going forward.
York United is expected to host a full in-person introductory press conference early this month.
Gheisar, 48, led Halifax to third place in the CPL table, clinching the club’s first ever home playoff game. His record-setting first season in charge saw the most wins (11), points (42), goals scored (39) and fewest conceded (32) in club history.
For his efforts, Gheisar was nominated for the Canadian Premier League’s Coach of the Year award. He also won the league’s Coach of the Month award for June of 2023.
Rewarding the coach for that success was something of a no-brainer for Halifax, and now Gheisar gets to work making sure the club remains a contender in 2024.
Cavalry FC announce end of the season roster news
The 2023 CPL Shield champs have turned their attention to preparing for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, and began to do so by securing a strong core of the players who helped win the regular season this past year. In total, 13 players are under contract of next season.
The club still has options on three players: Fraser Aird, Tom Field and Ben Fisk, and have until Dec. 31 to renew them for the 2024 campaign.
Five players, however, will be departing the club including striker Joe Mason, who led the team in scoring in both 2021 and 2022, as well as young striker Gareth Smith-Doyle, defenders Roberto Alarcón and Udoka Chima, and goalkeeper Sterling Kerr.
The club released goalkeeper Kieran Baskett, defender Jalen Watson as well as attackers Abdul Binate and David Brazão.
Baskett and Brazão are perhaps the most notable departures. Baskett split time in goal with Emil Gazdov, making 11 appearances in all competitions.
Brazão, meanwhile, showed glimpses of quality in his 13 appearances, scoring two goals and adding a pair of assists.
Former Forge FC defender Daniel Krutzen announces his retirement
A player who brought winning along with him wherever he went, 27-year-old Dutch defender Daniel Krutzen announced his retirement from the sport this past week.
Krutzen spent four seasons at Forge FC, after signing on for the club’s inaugural season, and is a three-time CPL playoff champion. That included incredibly working his way back from a knee injury to captain Forge to a 2-0 victory over Atlético Ottawa in the 2022 final.
The Dutchman spent this past season with Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship, where, surprise, surprise, his team won the 2023 title.