As pre-season nears, Canadian Premier League clubs have been busy bringing in new names and securing familiar ones.
Forge FC, HFX Wanderers FC, and FC Edmonton have made quick work of building their rosters, re-signing or letting go almost everyone (more on that below) from their 2019 squads.
The CPL’s other five clubs have been not as active, with the future of 40 players remaining unclear, which is denoted by that dreaded ‘–’ in our off-season roster tracker.
It’s worth noting that these players aren’t free agents. Just because their status hasn’t been announced doesn’t mean the club and player haven’t come to terms.
But, with the clock ticking on the CPL’s first off-season, their futures are worth speculating.
Will these players switch clubs? Move to MLS? Or will they return to their Year 1 club.
Here’s a look at seven high-profile CPL players who have yet to be signed for 2020.
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Amer Didic (FC Edmonton)
Let’s start with the name on everyone’s lips: Amer Didic.
FC Edmonton’s towering centre back made history twice last Friday by becoming the first CPLer to play and score for the Canadian men’s team in a 4-1 win over Barbados. His stock is on the rise, especially considering his 2019 season with the Eddies, and people are noticing.
His current status? Well, “on the market” could be an accurate description. FCE coach Jeff Paulus seems more than open to a move.
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“I want to do everything I could to get him back to the MLS, because I believe he’s an MLS-quality defender,” Paulus told CanPL.ca late last year. “It’s around the time that MLS teams are looking at their options as well, and he’s had two national team call-ups as well, so I don’t want to disrupt that, but we are in negotiations and we’ll hopefully have an update on him in the next short while, but he’s definitely someone we want to re-sign.”
Marco Bustos (Valour FC)
The first of two Valour FC players on this list, and the latest whose status was addressed by Rob Gale publicly, it seems news on the Marco Bustos front has been awfully quiet. Bustos has reportedly received interest from elsewhere after leading a lowly Valour side with seven goals in 2019. The 23-year-old has a good reputation for his age, too, having previously scored a boatload of goals for Whitecaps 2 and earning several call-ups to Canada’s senior team.
Is an MLS stint in his immediate future? Or would other CPL clubs want his fleet-footed skills to boost their title hopes?
Rodrigo Gattas (York9 FC)
Did York9 pick their go-t0 striker for 2020 when they re-signed Simon Adjei? Or will Gattas return? Gattas’ team-leading nine goals are the elephant in the room for Y9 supporters who see him as one of the purest goal-scorers from Year 1.
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Of course, first-year internationals naturally have a short shelf life in their new country. Gattas could very easily take his 2019 haul with the Nine Stripes and find another club abroad – or maybe he’s negotiating?
Either way, his current situation will scare York supporters: Where will the club get those goals next season if he doesn’t return?
Ben Fisk (Pacific FC)
We hear you, Pacific FC faithful. Periodic PFC captain Ben Fisk has yet to be confirmed for the Tridents’ 2020 campaign, one of several big-name Pacific players still in the lurch. The 26-year-old is coming off a strong year, scoring six goals and collecting a joint-league-high five assists. Does Fisk’s 2019 campaign raise his value? Definitely. Whether that means extended contract discussions or interest from elsewhere remains to be seen.
What is guaranteed, though, is the love from a passionate group of Pacific supporters. Love to see the creativity.
Julian Büscher (Cavalry FC)
Ah, don’t forget about Cavalry FC’s midfield maestro.
The German is a premier all-rounder with incredible on-the-pitch vision. SportLogiq statistics had Buscher in the final third of all CPL midfielders for line-breaking passes (1.18), crosses (6.64), successful pressured passes (13.88) and relief receptions (16.48) per 90 minutes in 2019. Without Buscher, Cavalry would be a lesser product overall – perhaps his 2019 is a reason to look for a pay raise for 2020?
Can Cavalry keep their core together the same way Forge has? Bringing back Buscher could be the biggest test of that goal.
Nico Pasquotti (Cavalry FC)
Pasquotti was one of several shooting-star stories from Year 1. As a high-pressure winger, the Lethbridge native’s fitness and work rate were on display all season (even if his performances were less impactful by the end). Has an MLS side sniffed around? It’s unlikely the Calgarian would move away from his hometown side to another potentially less-competitive CPL team.
Unlike other players on this list, Pasquotti himself offered a hint; a vague thank you on Twitter which mentioned a “fresh start.”
2019 was a special year. I look forward to the growth and opportunity that 2020 has in store! New opportunities. New goals. New chances. And a fresh start. #LFG ⚡️⚡️⚡️ pic.twitter.com/bdg4tOKfOc
— Nico Pasquotti (@nicopasquotti) January 2, 2020
Michael Petrasso (Valour FC)
Rumours have swirled over Michael Petrasso’s future in Winnipeg since his contract expired last month. The former Canada national team member, like many named above, came to the CPL with a big reputation and ability to perform, and delivered – despite injury concerns. Petrasso was a scary wide option when healthy and a star on a club that needed it.
So, what’s next? Valour seems like a long shot. York9 FC has been linked with the winger in a return home. Or will the former Montreal Impact fullback end up back in MLS.
Time will tell.
In the meantime, continue to check CanPL.ca’s off-season roster tracker for up-to-date player news.