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.
Opening the top five of CPL50 is Forge FC’s stalwart defender, Daniel Krutzen.
No other centre-back in the league has quite the range of abilities that Krutzen has. His composure on the ball, and his intelligence away from it, are unmatched among CPL defenders, and he’s a huge part of the reason Forge conceded the fewest goals in the league this year.
The 25-year-old dealt with some injuries in 2021 — including one that kept him out of the CPL Final in early December — but he still played 27 games, including 20 in league action. There were only two games he played this year where he didn’t see all 90 minutes — both of which were contests where an injury forced him out at halftime. When healthy, though, Krutzen was a vital piece of the puzzle for Bobby Smyrniotis’ side; he can pick out a pass to pretty much anywhere on the pitch, and he’s always in position to defend.
Krutzen’s ability to play out of the back gave Forge’s midfielders and wide players far more freedom to get forward, knowing his range and vision would allow him to find them and spring an attack.
The defender, born in Brunssum, Netherlands but raised nearby in Belgium (where he played his youth football, with KRC Genk), came to Forge after a few years spent in North American, including a solid college career with the Div. I University of Albany. He had brief stints with FC Tucson and Reading United of the PDL, too, before signing with Forge in 2019 as one of their first international players. Originally expected to play most of his minutes at left-back, Krutzen embraced the central position in 2019 and quickly became one of the CPL’s best.
The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.