Countless connections between Jackson Farmer, the city of Edmonton, and FCE coach Alan Koch make this almost too good to be true. Farmer is the most tenured domestic player available, having played for Koch’s Whitecaps 2 squad, and earning a Canadian men’s national team cap, before attending UBC. Farmer, who was raised in Edmonton, is also one of the most mature players eligible (he’s 25) for Friday’s draft. If you’re looking to win now, Farmer is your guy.
2. Atlético Ottawa: Dario Conte (Carleton Ravens)
We’re expecting Ottawa and coach Mista to go local in the club’s inaugural draft. Dario Conte, 23, stands as a top domestic option at Carleton, having played for the Ottawa Fury and the Vancouver Whitecaps’ youth teams. A solid box-to-box midfielder with professional experience could go a long way for Ottawa right away.
3. Valour FC: Cian Lynch (Cape Breton Capers)
Irishman Cian Lynch has yet to play a U SPORTS game, but he could be an intriguing pilot project for clubs such as Valour, who will likely pick the best players available. He’s a physical forward with experience in U.S. college and the second-tier Irish league. Could 21-year-old Lynch do a job at CPL level?
4. York United: Reggie Laryea (York Lions)
That’s right – he’s the younger brother of former Sigma FC and current Toronto FC/CanMNT regular Richie Laryea. Reggie has played in NCAA Div. 1 with the University of Akron Zips and in League1 Ontario with Sigma. He’s comfortable on the ball and while he doesn’t bring too much pace, he does have good defensive awareness.
Pacific has never picked someone from outside of British Columbia at the previous two drafts, and only once chose outside of UBC. Former Vancouver Whitecap youth product Shumbusho is the West Coast’s top prospect in 2021 as he approaches the end of his fourth year of eligibility. Pacy with an impressive goalscoring record (26 goals in 47 games) and ability to play across the front three makes the 22-year-old an idea attacking depth option for Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah.
6. Cavalry FC: Euan Bauld (Cape Breton Capers)
Strong ties to Cavalry mean the 5th-year defender Bauld could go in the first round. The Cape Breton standout has played with Calgary Foothills – coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s previous side – and even trialed at Cavalry last year. Capable of playing at centre-back and right fullback, the 24-year-old could help fill the void left by Dominick Zator, Jay Wheeldon, and Dean Northover’s recent departures.
7. HFX Wanderers FC: Charlie Waters (Cape Breton Capers)
Waters, 23, was on previously on trial with the Wanderers and has several teammates who have made the jump from Cape Breton to HFX (Peter Schaale and Cory Bent). A smart forward with good technical ability, Waters could offer HFX solid depth behind Akeem Garcia and Alex Marshall – especially considering his goalscoring record (18 goals and 10 assists in 21 games). Waters would need to sign a U SPORTS Development Contract to count as a domestic on HFX’s roster, which already has the full complement of seven internationals.
We’re expecting Bobby Smyrniotis to take the best players available, perhaps learning from his 2019 selection of UQTR’s Gabriel Balbinotti, who made six appearances for Forge in 2020. Former CF Montreal youth product Yesli, a first-year goalkeeper with the Carabins, comes with size (he’s six-foot-seven) and pedigree; he helped Italian side Vibonese Calcio earn promotion and won the PLSQ Cup before the age of 20. He’s also described as technically sound and comfortable playing out of the back, which fits Forge’s style of play well.
A top centre-back prospect, UQTR standout Pianelli-Balisoni could rejoin former university teammate Balbinotti at Forge. He’s a product of former French first-tier side Bastia and is one of the best defending prospects available.
Solid cover at centre-back, under-21 minutes eligible, and strong ties to Wanderers players such as Pierre Lamthoe, Omar Kreim, and Abou Sissoko makes former CF Montreal youth product Kareem Sow a perfect fit in Halifax. A left-footed defender, Sow played a key role in the University of Montreal’s National Championship run in 2018 and is capable of playing in midfield and at left fullback.
11. Cavalry FC: Mohamed El Gandour (Mount Royal Cougars)
Drafted by Cavalry FC last year, El Gandour could very well be picked up again. El Gandour played for Cavalry’s youth team in Alberta last summer, making eight starts and scoring twice and had a solid trial with the senior team in 2020.
12. Pacific FC: Christopher Lee (UBC Thunderbirds)
A young, technically-gifted fullback, former Vancouver Whitecaps prospect Lee would be a perfect fit at Pacific FC, giving coach Pa-Modou Kah ample cover outside and allowing Lee to learn from some of the best at the position in the CPL (Kadin Chung and Marcel De Jong).
13. York United: Christopher Campoli (Ontario Tech Ridgebacks)
A standout on one of Ontario’s lesser-known schools, Ontario Tech’s Campoli was a breakout star in U SPORTS in 2019, scoring six goals and adding six assists. The Woodbridge, Ont., native is a York Region local with some good League1 Ontario appearances under his belt. Could he be a depth piece for Jimmy Brennan’s attacking unit?
14. Valour FC: Jamie Watson (Cape Breton Capers)
Rob Gale picked two Cape Breton players in 2019 – why not again? The latest overseas product to emerge for the Capers, first-year right fullback Jamie Watson arrives with over 40 appearances for Scottish second-tier side Raith Rovers. Could be useful cover for Gale on the right-hand side and, if he signs a development contract, he could end up fitting into Valour’s system long-term.
15. Atlético Ottawa: Stefan Karajovanovic (Carleton Ravens)
Picked by York in 2019 to much fanfare, quick and shifty striker Stefan Karajovanovic is a proven goalscorer at several levels of Canadian soccer, including U SPORTS and PLSQ. A blistering 35 goals and four assists in 37 games for Carleton is nothing to shake a stick at for Mista and co. who, if they do draft locally with the successful local program, are set to get a gem of a forward.
16. FC Edmonton: David Chung (Alberta Golden Bears)
Re-drafting a selection from 2019, David Chung arrives as a competent third-year midfielder – with strong ties to FC Edmonton through its academy setup. A proper training camp should do wonders for the University of Alberta standout who will count for under-21 minutes in 2021.