The votes have been tallied, and the waiting is over.
On Monday, the Canadian Premier League announced the winners of the 2019 Fan Awards, with 11 players named to the Team of the Year, and the recipients of the Goal of the Year and the Allstate Good Hands Award for the year’s best save also revealed.
These awards, voted on by fans over the past two weeks, represent the culmination of an incredible year for the CPL, and the results certainly reflect how the season played out on the pitch.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, players from Cavalry FC and Forge FC pop up a lot here, with the two combatants of Finals 2019 each earning plenty of attention from voters.
Drumroll, please. Without further ado, here are the winners of the CPL’s first-ever Fan Awards.
RELATED READING: More on the CPL Fan Awards
GOAL OF THE YEAR
Forge striker Kadell Thomas earned the goal of the year nod for his stunning dance through Valour FC’s defence on July 20. He beat out Manny Aparicio’s long-range laser and Marco Bustos’ fastest goal in CPL history for the honour.
Thomas’ goal went viral around soccer circles as fans all over the internet gaped in awe at the way the Forge attacker cut through lines of defence all the way from the corner and beat goalkeeper Mathias Janssens with a delicate chip.
“The only thing you can do is sit back, watch it again and again, and smile,” Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said of the goal at the time.
Thomas’ injury-time effort was the cherry on top of a great afternoon for the eventual CPL Champions, who survived the midsummer heat to take down Valour 3-1 at Tim Hortons Field.
“It was surreal honestly, especially to have done it in front of friends and family at home,” Thomas told CanPL.ca.
ALLSTATE GOOD HANDS AWARD (SAVE OF THE YEAR)
Surprised? You probably shouldn’t be. Marco Carducci’s ninja-kick has been voted save of the year, perhaps both for the skill it required and the significance of the occasion.
Proceedings had been a touch sluggish in Leg 1 of the CPL Finals at Tim Hortons Field up until this point. That all changed in the 37th minute, though, when Cavalry defender Joel Waterman left his hand in the path of the ball at Tristan Borges’ feet. The former saw a red card, while the latter stepped up to the penalty spot.
Carducci, the league’s goalkeeper of the year and the Volkswagen Premier Performer, pulled a trick out of his bag. Although Carducci dove while Borges’ shot down the middle, he had quick enough reflexes to stretch out and catch the ball with his right foot.
The save only spared Cavalry for a few minutes, with Borges having the last laugh when he scored just before halftime. Regardless, the save was an incredible feat of athleticism.
“It was an honour for Allstate to be part of the Canadian Premier League’s inaugural year and show our commitment in supporting professional soccer in Canada with a league For Canadians, By Canadians,” Marcelo Regen, Vice President, Allstate Brand Innovation & Chief Customer Officer said.
“On behalf of Allstate, we are honoured to recognize Marco Carducci of Cavalry FC with the 2019 Allstate Good Hands® Award for his incredible, match-winning save on October 26 at the CPL Finals. Being recognized in the CPL’s first season and showcasing your skills will surely motivate the future players watching and aspiring to be like you. We know your future and that of the CPL’s is bright.”
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Fittingly, the two best sides in 2019 dominated the Team of the Year vote. Overall table leaders Cavalry leads the way with five players named to the Best XI of 2019, while CPL Champions Forge see four members of their title-winning squad earning nods.
The Cavs have contributed players all over the field, with Carducci getting the nod over Nathan Ingham in net, and CPL Player of the Year nominee Dominique Malonga edging Terran Campbell up front. They’re joined by teammates Nico Pasquotti (right wing), Elijah Adekugbe (defensive midfield), and Dominick Zator (right centre-back).
Forge, meanwhile, see their lethal duo of Kyle Bekker and Tristan Borges reunited in attacking midfield, taking down Cavalry’s Julian Büscher and Pacific’s Noah Verhoeven in the fan voting, respectively. The left side of the backline is composed of companions Kwame Awuah (left fullback, beating Diyaeddine Abzi) and Daniel Krutzen (left centre-back, edging Amer Didic).
Rounding out the Team of the Year, at opposite corners of the lineup, are York9 right fullback Morey Doner, who beat out FC Edmonton’s Jeannot Esua, and Valour winger Marco Bustos, who topped York9 star Ryan Telfer.