Some day, Canada may field a men’s national team full of players who’ve had experience in the Canadian Premier League.
Of course, no one has any playing experience in CPL just yet – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t connections between our national team and our national league.
In fact, all 23 members of the squad that John Herdman has named to face French Guiana in Concacaf Nations League qualifying on March 24 can be tied to the CPL in just a few steps.
Sure, most of them can be pretty neatly tied, via shared national-team experience, to Marcel de Jong (Pacific FC) and Nik Ledgerwood (Cavalry FC), who have over 100 combined Canada caps. But let’s get a little more creative and open-minded, shall we?
Simon Thomas: The 28-year-old made his Canada debut on Jan. 26, 2013, subbing in to replace Lars Hirschfeld, who’s now the goalkeeping coach for FC Edmonton. (Also in that game was Mason Trafford of Cavalry FC.)
Milan Borjan: This is a tough one, but, here goes: At Sivasspor in 2013, Borjan was briefly teammates with Moroccan midfielder Mehdi Taouil, who’d just come in from Scottish side Hearts, where he’d been teammates with Scottish defender Darren Barr. In 2017, Barr moved to Greenock Morton, which has also been the recent stomping ground of Luca Gasparotto (York9 FC).
Maxime Crépeau: With plenty of Canada youth experience, Crépeau has teamed with many future CPLers—most notably, he and Forge FC’s Quillan Roberts shared goalkeeping duties at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Zachary Brault-Guillard: The youngster debuted for Canada in the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championships, teaming up with Pacific FC’s Kadin Chung.
Derek Cornelius: At the 2018 Toulon Tournament, he was teammates with Noah Verhoeven (Pacific FC)… and, interestingly, also with Michael Baldisimo (whose brother Matthew is with Pacific FC) and Mathieu Choinière (whose brother David is with Forge FC).
David Edgar: A brief jump into the wayback machine reveals that, at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Edgar lined up with both the aforementioned veterans, Marcel de Jong (Pacific FC) and Nik Ledgerwood (Cavalry FC).
Sam Adekugbe: If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because Sam’s younger brother Elijah Adekugbe will represent their hometown of Calgary in CPL play this year.
Doneil Henry: While Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman are now teammates with Forge FC, they were also once both teammates with Henry at Toronto FC.
Marcus Godinho: As a member of Toronto FC II in 2015, Godinho shared defensive duties with Skylar Thomas (Valour FC).
Mark-Anthony Kaye: Speaking of that TFCII squad a few years back, Kaye shared midfield duties with Manny Aparicio (York9 FC).
Atiba Hutchinson: Hutch is among the most accomplished Canadians of all time, and it began back with the Toronto Lynx, where he counted Adrian Serioux as a teammate in the early 2000s. Serioux later joined the defensive backline at Toronto FC, a unit that included current York9 FC head coach Jim Brennan.
Will Johnson: At Orlando City SC last year, Johnson was teammates with Richie Laryea, who, several years earlier, had taken part in the Canada U-23 setup with Marco Carducci (Cavalry FC), Ben Fisk (Pacific FC) and Jordan Murrell (Valour FC).
Jonathan Osorio: The long-time TFC midfielder is still technically teammates with Ryan Telfer, who’s on a season-long loan with York9 FC.
Samuel Piette: Having been in the Canadian system seemingly forever despite being in his mid-20s, Piette has seen many current CPLers up close. Back in his first Canada game (with the U-17s in 2011), he was in the midfield with Dylan Carreiro (Valour FC).
Russell Teibert: Having been in the Vancouver Whitecaps system seemingly forever despite … you get the idea. Teibert and Randy Edwini-Bonsu (FC Edmonton) ran in the same circles as youngsters on the west coast.
Junior Hoilett: At Cardiff City, Hoilett is teammates with Callum Paterson, a Scotsman who until 2017 was a member of Hearts. Since 2015, that club has also had rights to Dario Zanatta, who has appeared for Canada’s U-20 side alongside Tristan Borges (Forge FC).
Scott Arfield: It was David Edgar, his former Burnley teammate, that drew Arfield into the Canadian setup—and it’s Edgar that pulls Arfield into this discussion as well, as Edgar spent last year at Ottawa Fury as a teammate of soon-to-be CPLer Monti Mohsen (Forge FC).
Jonathan David: His meteoric rise has been impressive—and likely watched with interest by former Canada U-17 teammate Alessandro Hojabrpour (Pacific FC).
Cyle Larin: The Besiktas striker is among a wave of talented players who’ve recently emerged from Sigma FC—which was, of course, co-founded by Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis.
Alphonso Davies: As a shining star of the Vancouver Whitecaps system before making the big move to Bayern Munich, Davies crossed paths with several future CPLers, including Chris Serban (Cavalry FC) and Mark Village (Pacific FC).
Lucas Cavallini: Back at the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, Cavallini scored his first goal in a Canadian jersey, in a game against Guadeloupe. Behind him, helping Canada hold on for a win, was defender Roger Thompson (York9 FC).
Liam Millar: The upstart is relatively new to the scene, but has taken the field with at least one CPL player: Diego Gutierrez of Valour FC (as members of Canada’s team at the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship).
Ballou Tabla: A few years before joining Barcelona’s system, Tabla competed for Canada at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship alongside the likes of Munir Saleh (York9 FC), Cyrus Rollocks (York9 FC) and Terran Campbell (Pacific FC).