Welcome to CPL50, a series where we’ll reveal the top 50 players from the 2021 Canadian Premier League regular season, as voted on by a panel of coaches from all eight teams and media from OneSoccer and CanPL.ca.
For more information on the voting process and method, click here.
Another player on loan from CF Montreal in the CPL50, a few spots ahead of Valour’s Jonathan Sirois, Cavalry’s Karifa Yao slots in at number 16.
The 21-year-old from Montreal, Quebec played 26 times in the 2021 regular season, and established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the CPL.
Part of a strong backline that also included talented youngsters Mo Farsi and Daan Klomp, among others, Yao became one of the club’s most important players, due to his physicality, willingness to block shots, ability to pass out of the back, and aerial presence.
Yao finished in the top five league wide in almost every defensive category, including blocks, clearances, duels won and aerial duels won.
He dominated in the CPL, and if he returns to CF Montreal and replicates the success he had in 2021, he’ll be a regular for John Herdman’s national team for years to come.
He was also named as the Cavalry fans’ Player of the Year, presented to him by the Foot Soldiers.
What an honor to receive this award! It was a pleasure to fight for this team, this staff, this city and for the fans. Thank you foot soldier for this award!🔴⚫️🐎 https://t.co/HkmgNSDsOK