The first-ever pick in the 2018 CPL-U SPORTS Draft is fighting for the final spot on Cavalry FC’s roster, as Carleton striker Gabriel Bitar competes with a fellow draft pick for a contract in Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s squad.
Speaking with the Calgary Sun while the team prepares for pre-season training in the Dominican Republic, Wheeldon Jr. revealed that a Central American winger signing will soon be followed by one final squad choice.
“I think we’ll max out at six (internationals),” Wheeldon Jr. told the Calgary Sun’s Todd Saelhof, teasing his Central American signing once more. “Because that one last spot we’re going to use on our U Sports draft pick. We’ve already signed (former Calgary Foothills player and 14th overall pick) Joel Waterman … so now it’s either Easton Ongaro, from the University of Alberta, or Gabby Bitar, who was our No. 1 draft pick from Carleton University.
“They’ll be joining us in the Dominican, and whoever we see that fits the best with our staff at the right time will be added to the roster for the start of the season.”
Cavalry added French striker Dominique Malonga this week, making him the team’s fifth international signing, and one that Wheeldon Jr. says will be a “fan-favourite” in Calgary.
The rest of Wheeldon Jr.’s squad, much like the rest of the CPL’s rosters, will be filled out with Canadian acquisitions.
But there are some nuances in Wheeldon Jr.’s Cavalry outfit.
“It’s been a neat journey, because the concept of the league is for Canadians, by Canadians,” Wheeldon Jr. said. “In putting together the roster, we’ve done a slightly different recruitment philosophy than other teams. For us, it’s about who is good locally that we can put onto this team first, because any good team has to have that local core that knows what Calgary’s about and knows the local areas and what it means to represent this city.”