Six #GotGame Open Trialists signed to CPL clubs so far

A total of six #GotGame Open Trialists have made their dreams a reality since the seven-stop tryout ended.

They have made a Canadian Premier League squad ahead of its inaugural season.

We’ve taken an in-depth look at these six players, which teams they’ve signed with, reviewed what scouts have said about them, and broken down how they came on the CPL’s radar.

Son Yongchan – FC Edmonton (MF)

We start with the crown jewel of the Open Trials. Ranked third out of 1,400 trialists in overall fitness testing, Son Yongchan quickly made a name for himself as a top target, matching physical prowess with technical skill.

The CPL’s talent evaluators were impressed with his ability to use both feet and referred to the 27-year-old as “tenacious” in his defending. They alleged he had “next level ability.”

The South Korean made good on that “next level ability” in December, signing with FC Edmonton and becoming the first Open Trialist assigned to a CPL club.

FC Edmonton Jeff Paulus won the “Smiling Assassin” sweepstakes, making Yongchan the club’s first international signing.

“He is the fittest player I have ever seen,” Paulus said about Yongchan. “He plays at a pace we don’t often see in North America.”

Son Yongchan during the Toronto Open Trials. (CPL)
Son Yongchan during the Toronto Open Trials. (CPL)

Wataru Murofushi – York9 FC (MF)

Murofushi was a step ahead of the Japanese contingent at the Vancouver Island trials this fall. Described as a midfield general, Murofushi’s box-to-box style and effectiveness on both sides of the ball caught the eye of CPL coaches.

Prior to the Open Trials, he captained Singaporean side Albirex Niigata to a domestic quadruple, winning the league, as well as two domestic cups and a community shield, all while going unbeaten.

Clearly impressed with the midfield general’s ability, York9 FC head coach Jimmy Brennan brought the 27-year-old to the fold in York in January, inking him to a contract.

“He’s explosive and exceptionally quick off the ball,” Brennan said. “He’s going to be a great asset to our club.”

York9 FCs Wataru Murofushi.
York9 FCs Wataru Murofushi.

Tyler Attardo – Valour FC (MF)

Attardo, 17, impressed Valour FC’s Rob Gale and several other coaches at the Winnipeg Open Trial with his speed and ability as a finisher.

Referring to the teen as a “dynamic” striker with a ton of tools, CPL scouts speculated he was the best finisher they’d see at the trials thus far.

The Winnipeg native eventually made it all the way to the final match of the Open Trials.

“I like to use my speed and strength to my advantage and I think that came across in the final match,” Attardo said, at the time.

Gale made good on the supposed interest this January, signing Attardo to his first pro deal while he was still in high school. With the deal, Attardo became the youngest CPL-er signed so far.

Tyler Attardo during Day 1 of the Open Trials in Winnipeg. (David Lipnowski, CPL)
Tyler Attardo during Day 1 of the Open Trials in Winnipeg. (David Lipnowski, CPL)

Emilio Estevez – York9 FC (MF)

Estevez, 20, is another piece Jimmy Brennan plucked from the Open Trials in Toronto, calling the diminutive attacking talent “a little hidden gem” discovered in his own backyard.

Scouts called him a “crafty midfielder” who impressed with his technique on the ball.

Estevez was officially brought on to Y9 on Feb. 8 and was called up to the Chinese Taipei national team soon after.

“We fell in love with him as soon as I saw him,” Brennan said of Estevez.

Estevez’s Open Trials sheet.

Kodai Iida – HFX Wanderers (MF)

Discovered: Montreal Open Trials
Signed: Feb. 21, 2019

A technically good midfielder, Iida found himself literally at the top of the list of Open Trialists in Laval. Scouts complimented his ability to stay composed “at all times” while recognizing and adapting to the speed of the game. The 23-year-old was highlighted as one of the best-attacking players at the entire trials as well.

HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart shipped Iida over to Halifax on Feb. 21, along with fellow Open Trialist Kouame Ouattara.

HFX Wanderers signing Kodai Iida during the Montreal Open Trials.
HFX Wanderers signing Kodai Iida during the Montreal Open Trials.

Kouame Ouattara – HFX Wanderers (MF)

Discovered: Halifax Open Trials
Signed: Feb. 21, 2019

Nicknamed “the Beast” at the first of the seven trials, 27-year-old Ouattara was a clear standout in Halifax. Playing centreback and central midfield, the Ivorian-Canadian was noted for his aerial prowess and physicality. He scored a goal in one of the trial games, impressing HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart even more.

“He told me his best position is in midfield, so I told the other coaches we should give him a chance there,” Hart said about coming across the Moncton native.

Hart announced the signing of Ouattara earlier this month, making him the second Open Trialist to join the Wanderers so far.

Moncton's Outtara joins HFX Wanderers.
Moncton’s Outtara joins HFX Wanderers.