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.
The second CPL champion to appear in our countdown is Pacific FC defender Abdou Samake, who had a breakout campaign for the club at centre-back.
Samake, a 25-year-old born in Mali but raised in Ottawa, played 25 CPL games this year and the third-most minutes for Pacific with 2,169. He first joined the club in 2020 but made just two appearances at the Island Games, serving mostly as a depth player in the Tridents’ squad. This year, though, an early injury to Thomas Meilleur-Giguère meant Samake needed to step up and become an everyday centre-back for Pacific, which he certainly did.
Over the course of the season, Samake proved his ability to play difficult minutes in a congested schedule, including a stretch of 14 consecutive starts over a nine-week period. He developed an excellent partnership with Lukas MacNaughton, keeping the backline organized and covering open space whenever MacNaughton ventured forward with the ball. Samake is a difficult player to beat one-on-one, and his positioning helped make Pacific a difficult side to break down this year.
When he signed for Pacific in 2020, Samake was a relatively unknown quantity, though he had a strong background coming from the Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal) academy in addition to a successful college career at the University of Michigan.
Although an injury in the CPL semi-final kept him out of the final this year, Samake was an integral part of Pacific’s championship-winning season and a worthy inclusion in the league’s top 50 players.
The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.