In this series, Steven Sandor examines the projected starting lineups of each Canadian Premier League club ahead of the 2019 CPL season.
Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. has amassed an eclectic mix of players; a liberal helping of players who were part of the Foothills team he coached to a PDL title in 2018, veterans of North American soccer, players with national-team experience and some very intriguing international signings.
This isn’t a team of players who might instantly be familiar to followers of Canadian soccer but this is a team that might surprise more than a few people.
Here’s how the Cavs’ might look in 2019:
This is a major position of strength for the Calgary side. Marco Carducci enjoyed a standout year with Foothills in 2018, as he returned home after spending his formative soccer development years in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ system and a few games with Rio Grande Valley of the USL. He’ll be expected to be a goalkeeper-of-the-year candidate at the end of the season, and may just steal a few points for his team this season.
If, months ago, you’d have asked the seven CPL coaches about defenders they’d love to have on their rosters, Mason Trafford would have been on a lot of lists. A left-footed, versatile player who can play in the middle and on the outside, Trafford was part of an Ottawa Fury team that went to the NASL championship game, then was part of a Miami FC team that, frankly, were a lot more attractive to watch than many MLS teams. As well, Dominick Zator, the University of Calgary grad who also spent time in the Whitecaps system, will be seen as a second veteran presence in the back. He captained the Foothills squad that won the PDL title last season. So don’t expect a lot of panic in the back at Spruce Meadows.
Nik Ledgerwood is one of the marquee Canadians in CPL. A national team veteran with a storied career in Europe. With Trafford and Ledgerwood in the spine of the team, that’s a heck of a lot of experience. Elijah Adekugbe, another Calgarian, will work with Ledgerwood when it comes to dominating the middle of the park. And Sergio Camargo, a Toronto FC Academy product, will be the dynamic link between the midfield and forwards and might be as close to a freelancer as we’ll see in CPL. If Camargo can provide eight to 10 goals out of that spot behind the forwards, look out.
A few months ago, you would have said that Oliver Minatel — the Brazilian who spent time with the Ottawa Fury — would have been a day-one starter. But Dominique Malonga and Jordan Brown were on the start lists in the Dominican Republic. No, they’re not household names; but that doesn’t mean they won’t be impact players. You can’t discount the fact that Malonga has played in Serie A, and was once a pretty reliable player for Hibernian in the Scottish Championship. And Jordan Brown is a player who came out of the Arsenal youth system and played for England at the youth level. This is his big chance to rebuild his career; he’s still in his early 20s — and he could be the end piece for a lot of counterattacks from the Cavalry.