The Forge captain was a true workhorse, playing in all 28 matches and establishing himself as one of the CPL’s best playmakers. Borges garnered most of the headlines in the Hammer, but Bekker, a Canadian international, was just as an influential figure in helping Forge win the North Star Shield. He was also a finalist for the Player of the Year award.
If there was a CPL award for Defender of the Year, he probably would have won it. Zator was a stud centre back for his hometown club, anchoring a Cavalry defence that conceded the fewest goals (19) in the league over both seasons. John Herdman took notice of his stellar play, as Zator earned his first call-up to the Canadian men’s team.
The German was a stats nut’s dream in 2019. According to Sportlogiq, he was the best in the league at passing under pressure, and he was generally among the CPL’s elite midfielders in every category for passing and defensive actions. At times an underrated part of Cavalry’s success, Büscher really pulled the strings in their midfield.
Krutzen was one of the best centre backs – if not the best – in the CPL this season. The classy Belgian was a mainstay in Forge’s back line, playing with a number of partners in the middle throughout the year. He barely put a foot wrong in marshalling Forge’s defence, and played a major role in guiding the Hamilton club to a CPL championship.
Malonga was a key cog in Cavalry’s run towards winning both the Spring and Fall campaigns. He finished tied with Terran Campbell for second place in the Golden Boot race, and was a finalist for the CPL Player of the Year. No forward generated chances the way Malonga did, whether through clever movement, hold-up play or breaking lines. The Congolese striker led the league in shots and shots on target per 90 minutes, too.
Trafford was the best left-footed centre back in the league. The veteran filed the role exceptionally well, leading the CPL’s best defence as one of the smartest positional minds out there. Trafford, largely sitting deep, was a defensive wall that few attacking units managed to break down.
This Winnipeg native was easily the most electric Valour player in 2019, and probably one of the most entertaining players in the CPL. His year will be best remembered for the 20-yard stunner he scored 30 seconds into a game at Tim Hortons Field, but he was worth the price of admission every day.
Forge’s pacy winger surges high after an immaculate Finals 2019. Nanco took more shots and completed more line-breaking passes in the final third than any other player over those two matches. He also set up Tristan Borges’ Leg 1 winner with a lovely piece of skill. One of Forge’s first signings showed leadership throughout the campaign.
On loan from Toronto FC, Telfer was an attacking dynamo for York9 with his goal-scoring ability, turn of pace, and ability to play a number of different positions. He proved to be tough for opposing defenders to contain at times, and finished off a remarkable year of personal growth in the CPL by earning his first caps for Trinidad and Tobago’s national team.
Who would’ve thought that an unknown quantity would make such an impact in his first pro year? Coming out of League1 Ontario, Doner introduced himself as a dynamic, attack-minded player with pace and skill, and he won the right fullback spot in both the CPL Fan Awards team of the year and CanPL.ca’s unofficial best XI, for good reason.
Cavalry’s diminutive attacker proved to be one of the hardest players to mark in the CPL, when healthy. Still, half-a-dozen goals and a couple of assists is a good return for the minutes he played. Running at defences from deep, Camargo pulled defenders all over the pitch in 2019, helping fellow attackers Dominique Malonga and Nico Pasquotti to find space.
When Michael Petrasso finally got up to speed after his injury problems, he proved an absolute force on the wing for Valour. A fine distributor of the ball, the former Queens Park Rangers man set up countless chances – indicative of his five assists.
Mr. Reliable. Samuel could be found anywhere across the Forge backline in 2019 and was stellar in each spot. Rarely did the physical defender look out of place, including in Leg 2 of Finals 2019 when Samuel created an impenetrable wall able to swat just about anything Cavalry threw his way.
Esua was voted FCE’s Player of the Year by the coaching staff and his teammates. The right fullback from Cameroon firmly established himself as a regular starter for the club, and one of the best international players in the league.
Although he struggled with injury, the Senegalese midfielder was a key piece in Forge’s title-winning midfield. He posted passing accuracy numbers above 90 per cent on an almost weekly basis, and he was also defensively reliable, often serving as the link between the defence and Kyle Bekker further upfield.
Campbell came out of nowhere to take the league by storm, becoming the first CPL player to hit double digits in goals, ending the season with 11, and being nominated for Best Under-21 Canadian Player. The former Whitecaps FC 2 product was in the hunt for the inaugural Golden Boot alongside Tristan Borges and Dominique Malonga right until the end of the season.
One of many Year 1 surprises, Pasquotti used his non-stop physicality on the wing to cause opposing teams plenty of problems. The Cavs wide man never let opponents sleep, completing the most dribbles (59) on his team while setting up several chances with his quick feet or with his dangerous long throw.
Like Elimane Cisse, Achinioti-Jonsson dealt with injuries in the Fall season, but Forge was always much better off with him involved. The Swede was more of an out-and-out defensive midfielder, constantly cutting off passes (his 43 interceptions was eighth-best in the CPL, and more than any other full-time midfielder).
21. Peter Schaale (HFX Wanderers FC) – 1 goal, 1 assist, 17 games played, 1530 minutes
A solid centre back who ably anchored Wanders’ defence despite a lack of experience. Schaale made his pro debut in the Wanderers’ inaugural match in April and went on to make 21 appearances, including a number of games where he wore the captain’s armband, before returning to U SPORTS with Cape Breton in the summer.
The Trinidadian international was one of the few bright spots for a Wanderers side that finished last in the overall league standings in 2019. He scored a team-high seven goals for HFX in league action, and added one goal in four Canadian Championship appearances.
The Alberta native was the heart and soul of a Cavalry side that dominated the regular season. Ledgerwood demonstrated why he was a trusted member of Canada’s national team for many years with his poised and polished performances in the Cavs midfield, playing a starring role in the team’s run to winning both the Spring and Fall titles.
Arguably the best midfield general in the CPL, Beland-Goyette exceeded in all facets as a central anchor. The former Montreal Impact player stood out on a sometimes mediocre team, finishing in the top 10-per cent of all CPL midfielders in tackles, key passes and line-breaking passes according to SportLogiq.
Edgar had to be the best mid-season pickup, as the 32-year-old was exactly what the doctor ordered for a Forge team that showed cracks in defence to start the season. Without Edgar, Forge is not winning Finals 2019 – his second leg showing was outstanding and worthy of man of the match honours.