TORONTO — More than 200 Canadian Premier League hopefuls began Thursday’s #GotGame Open Trials in Toronto, the fourth stop on the league’s coast-to-coast talent search. Then the list was trimmed ahead of Day 2 at the Ontario Soccer Centre, with a handful of trialists setting themselves apart after the first set of games.
The league’s coaches selected 60 trialists to move on to Friday — which will feature 11 vs. 11 games that will provide the league’s bench bosses a better opportunity to evaluate players who could received an invite to preseason camps.
Here are five players who caught the eyes of CPL coaches on Day 1 in T.O.
TRIALIST NO. 727
DUWAYNE EWART, 20
SCOUTS SAY: The former Canadian youth international is looking for his next opportunity following a stint with the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The “deceptively quick” midfielder is currently playing in League1 Ontario in an effort to catch the eye. One CPL talent evaluator familiar with Ewart called him a “slow and go” playmaker, a creative midfielder who uses his change of pace to create space for himself. He has “blistering” speed, the scout added. Ewart is good in 1-vs.-1 situations and is a surprisingly clean finisher.
TRIALIST NO. 726
EMILIO ESTEVEZ, 20
SCOUTS SAY: Estevez is a crafty midfielder who can play anywhere across the midfield. He impressed Thursday with his technique and ability on the ball. The 20-year-old is coming off a trial with Spanish side Levante and looked more than comfortable taking players on before delivering the final pass.
TRIALIST NO. 851
YONG CHAN SON, 27
NATIONALITY: Korea Rep.
SCOUTS SAY: Yong Chan Son arrived in Toronto last week specifically to attend these trials. With previous professional experience in the Philippines, Singapore and India, the defender impressed CPL coaches with his quickness and technical ability. The CPL’s talent evaluators were impressed with his ability to use both feet and referred to the 27-year-old as “tenacious” in his defending. He has “next level ability,” the scout added. “He takes pride in his technical ability.”
TRIALIST NO. 705
DANIEL LA’EL, 21
SCOUTS SAY: La’el is technically strong and offers something different. Whereas most CPL trialist look to play safe and simple, the 21-year-old Torontonian always looked to play forward. One CPL coach admired his willingness to get on the ball and get involved throughout Day 1. When La’el did, he controlled the tempo and played smart, which ultimately set him apart from players complicating the game around him.
TRIALIST NO. 776
SCOUTS SAY: The younger brother of Canadian international Cyle Larin, Elijah Larin is currently training with a League1 Ontario side and looking to re-establish himself as a top prospect in the region. One CPL talent evaluator referred to Larin as a “dynamic winger who’s good in 1-vs.-1 situations.” He’s “hard to handle,” the scout added. Larin recently wrapped up a stint at Broward College as he looks to return to the game and follow in his older brother’s footsteps.