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.
At number 48 in the CPL50 is a player who one of the most dangerous and entertaining strikers in the league in the first half of the 2021 season, in Valour FC forward Austin Ricci.
Ricci only played 16 CPL games this year, with his season ending in early September due to an unfortunate injury, but prior to that he was inarguably one of the best centre-forwards in the league. He scored five league goals in his shortened campaign, including a brace in a massive 3-0 win over York United in the bubble that began the 2021 season. In the Canadian Championship, he was perhaps even more impressive, scoring three goals in just two games for Valour — enough to win him the competition’s Golden Boot as its top scorer for this year. Over the year, Ricci was also named to the Gatorade Team of the Week three times.
The 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ontario is a physical, commanding presence at the front of an attack, causing no end of trouble for defenders when he puts pressure on them with his aggressive and tireless running. Ricci offers a unique blend of speed, physicality, and finishing ability that makes him perfect for a direct style of play and a real goalscoring threat at all times.
Ricci signed for Valour before the 2020 CPL season, having played in the league in 2019 for York9 FC (now York United), making nine appearances. He played briefly for Vaughan Azzurri of League1 Ontario and Michigan Bucks of the USL, as well as Oakland University, en route to landing in Winnipeg to become an integral part of the squad.
It’s a shame Ricci’s injury kept him away from the homestretch of the season, because Valour certainly could have used his abilities during their playoff push — considering how close it was by the end, perhaps things might’ve gone differently had he been involved.