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.
Fourth in the CPL50 countdown is York United star Diyaeddine Abzi, one of the league’s most exciting young talents.
The 23-year-old left-back has been a bright light for York Region for three seasons, but he was better than ever in 2021. He played more minutes than anybody else at York (2,307) in his 26 CPL appearances this year, and in every game he was one of the most entertaining players on the pitch. Abzi has tremendous pace and technical ability, which help him tear opposing defences apart along the left side, whether lining up as a fullback or winger.
Abzi scored six goals in 2021 and added three assists, contributing so much to York’s attack en route to their first ever playoff appearance. He led the entire CPL in successful 1v1s (61) and he finished third in successful duels (167), while simultaneously finishing in the top 10 in recoveries with his speed helping him on the defensive side as well.
This year, he displayed a knack for making creative attacking decisions; he can drive at opposing fullbacks and centre-backs himself to create his own goals, or he can serve up a cross or through ball for a teammate. Plus, Abzi showed that he’s very capable of hitting a set-piece as well.
Abzi signed for York in early 2019, and he’s now their all-time appearances leader with 63. In fact, he’s one of just three players to suit up for the Nine Stripes in each of their CPL seasons. Abzi — born in Morocco but raised in Quebec — came to York Region after several years in PLSQ, first with Salaberry and then with AS Blainville. He has also represented Canada on the international stage, getting a call to the national futsal team in 2018 and then representing Canada’s U-23s in 2021 at the Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers.
The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.