Trading places: Reviewing the biggest player moves in CPL history

Joe Di Chiara is on the move.

Swapping York9 FC for Cavalry FC this week, the rough-and-tumble midfielder is looking to win a CPL Championship, according to Cavs coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

The 28-year-old free agent earned his move to Cavalry after The Island Games in which he led his team in scoring with three goals – including a brace in York’s win over 905 Derby rivals Forge FC – in six appearances. The previous year, he tallied only a pair of goals and an assist in 23 CPL games for the Nine Stripes.

Di Chiara isn’t the first CPLer to move to another club in the league following an impressive season. After Year 1, several big-name players swapped teams, to limited effect.

Here are some of the big CPL players swaps we’ve seen thus far and how they’ve worked out.

RELATED READING: Where does Di Chiara’s move to Cavalry fall on spectrum of intra-league swaps?

Elliot Simmons – HFX Wanderers to Cavalry

You’d be remiss to forget that the English-Canadian midfielder moved from HFX Wanderers FC to Cavalry this off-season. The 22-year-old proved a massive part of Wheeldon Jr.’s midfield, creating an industrious duo with Elijah Deluge and appearing in all 10 of Cavalry’s matches in PEI.

An understated off-season move ended up being one of the more valuable signings of the 2020 CPL campaign. He’s currently training with Swedish first division side Östersunds FK through the off-season.

Manny Aparicio – York9 FC to Pacific FC

Many Aparicio (no. 10) celebrates with his York9 FC teammates after scoring against HFX Wanderers FC. (CPL/Chant Photography)
Many Aparicio (no. 10) celebrates with his York9 FC teammates after scoring against HFX Wanderers FC. (CPL/Chant Photography)

Dare we say it, but Manny Aparicio was the perfect signing for Pacific FC.’s Virtual Newsroom observed Aparicio as a “perfect” fit for the Tridents, who lacked creativity up the middle of the park at The Island Games. It’s something coach Pa-Modou Kah observed, too, calling the York9 captain his “top target” after his team’s Island Games elimination.

The reason Aparicio fits that top-of-the-shortlist spot is because of how well he fits in Pacific’s midfield. Matthew Baldisimo occupies a classic No. 6 hole, Jamar Dixon takes up a shuttling No. 8 spot, leaving Aparicio to get forward in a traditional advanced No. 10.

It’s almost too good to be true, just like this other Pacific signee.

Marco Bustos – Valour FC to Pacific FC

Arguably the most successful swap and, coincidentally, the best player on this list, Marco Bustos arrived at Pacific FC last off-season with MVP aspirations.

It turned out to be a fruitful decision. Nominated for CPL Player of the Year, Bustos’ five-goal, three-assist tally at the Island Games was among the best of any player in the league.

Between Valour FC and Pacific, the attacking midfielder has missed just one match due to injury, as he’s racked up 3,098 minutes of action – fifth-most in CPL history – while scoring 12 goals and adding six assists.

Chrisnovic N’sa – HFX Wanderers FC to York9 FC

The former HFX Wanderers stalwart switched to York9 this off-season, partnering with his younger brother Felix and is fresh off an Under-21 Player of the Year nomination. It was a major coup for Y9, who lost a number of players now featured on this list.

N’sa was a standout player on both sides of the ball in PEI, winning the second-most 1v1s among defenders. He finished third in the CPL in successful tackles (16), third in successful duels (59) and fourth in interceptions (17).

It’s unknown how N’sa will perform in York Region or how he will be deployed since he’s capable of filling in at multiple positions outside of right fullback – centre-back or in a defensive midfielder slot being the most common.

Louis Béland-Goyette – Valour FC to HFX Wanderers FC

One of 2020’s most-anticipated intra-CPL moves turned out to be somewhat of a bust.

Signing one of the best Year 1 midfielders was a statement of intent for Stephen Hart who, as you’re aware, ended up taking his team to the CPL Finals.

LBG eventually fell down the depth chart, though, with Andre Rampersad and Abou Sissoko making up two-thirds of’s Island Games Best XI.

Will a CPL team pick up the 25-year-old this off-season to complete another switch?’s Virtual Newsroom thinks so.

Ben Fisk – Pacific FC to Atlético Ottawa

Pacific's Ben Fisk battles for the battle against Cavalry FC's Sergio Camargo at Westhills Stadium. (Photo: Pacific FC/Reuters).
Pacific’s Ben Fisk battles for the battle against Cavalry FC’s Sergio Camargo at Westhills Stadium. (Photo: Pacific FC/Reuters).

This is an interesting case, with the 27-year-old swapping the West Coast for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to captain Atlético Ottawa.

Now, on the pitch, Fisk didn’t have the greatest season numbers-wise, tallying just one goal and collecting no assists in Atlético’s famous red-and-white stripes. But he looked sharp on the wing, generating a number of notable scoring chances.

For Fisk, it is about his impact as the club’s first leader – and he’s excelled in this role, making Ottawa into a tight-knit group that nearly made the second round in PEI.

Michael Petrasso – Valour FC to York9 FC

The jury’s out on Michael Petrasso’s move to York9 FC from Valour last winter.

Petrasso, 25, only played 130 minutes for his hometown club in 2020, with groin issues sidelining him for most of The Island Games in Charlottetown this summer.

But don’t let the lack of playing time fool you. He’s a major piece of the puzzle at York9 FC attempts to move on from its lacklustre showing in PEI and build towards the future.

Perhaps this switch’s true value will be shown in 2021 when Petrasso returns from his loan at English side Barnet FC, where he’s found his form in a big way.