The Canadian Premier League is just four days away from kicking off! Heading into the season The Mastermind analyzed each and every team and their chances in this exciting inaugural season. Check out our Team Guides here! But something that everyone is waiting to see is how each of these teams are going to line up. Ultimately this league is going to be made by the players. They will play a vital role in helping this league flourish. Here is how each #CPL team could line up heading into the opening round of fixtures.
FC Edmonton have one of the more clear-cut starting elevens in the league. The difference between the experienced players in the side and the ones with a little less experience is simply a greater gap. Paulus has several options to pick from up front and might opt for a front three that includes former Eintracht Braunschweig striker Randy Edwini-Bonsu. Although experienced and pacey, Edwini-Bonsu does not have the best goal record and so he will need Edmonton’s number 9 Ajeej Sarkaria and 30-year old Tomy Ameobi for support. 17-year old Marcus Velado-Tsegaye could also be one to watch and might be a more natural right winger instead of Ameobi. In midfield, Korean trialist Son Yong-chan will be looking to partner former North Carolina midfielder James Marcelin and the versatile Ramon Soria in midfield. In defense is where Paulus’ side look a little light and they’ll be relying on several former FC Edmonton players to step up to the plate. The back four could feature Allan Zebie, Mele Temguia and Kareem Moses, who were all Edmonton players of the past, alongside Canada U-23 player Amer Didic. Finally, U Sports varsity athlete Connor James appears to be the favourite to start in goal, ahead of 22-year old Dylan Powley.
Cavalry FC have the biggest squad in the league so picking their starting 11 is a massive task for Tommy Wheeldon Jr. The former Calgary Foothills coach said earlier this week that he has a good idea of who his starters are going to be in their opening match next weekend. However, we have no idea who he is going to pick or what formation he is going to utilize. Dominque Malonga looks the likeliest to play up, while Marco Carducci appears to be a sure-bet in goal. A back-four featuring Nathan Mavila, Mason Trafford, Dominik Zator and Chris Serban might just be the strongest in the league, while a diamond midfield may be favoured. The diamond in midfield would allow for Nik Legerwood to play his preferred number 6 role, Sergio Camargo the number 10 role, while also fitting in players like Mauro Eustaquio and Julian Buscher – who played in the MLS for DC United. Jose Escalante will look to push Sergio Camargo for a place, while Elijah Adekugbe could also be one to watch in midfield. Jordan Brown will be hoping to partner Dominque Malonga up top, but the role could also go to Oliver Minatel or Malyk Hamilton.
The competition for places in Forge FC’s lineup is extensive. Former TFC man Quillan Roberts could be Smyrniotis’ first choice keeper, but the role could also go to his compatriot Triston Henry. Chris Nanco and Emery Welshman will look to have an impact out wide, while Anthony Novak could challenge Marcelo Zajac for a place up top. The most interesting battle for spots in the starting eleven is in midfield where Tristan Borges, David Choiniere, Kwame Awuah and recent signing Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson could all battle for places alongside Kyle Bekker. The back-line looks a bit more clear-cut and features a few former Sigma FC men in Dominic Samuel and Jonathan Grant. Both were regulars under Smyrniotis at Sigma and Samuel has the distinction of being a two-time League1 Ontario Defender of the Year. Kwame Awuah could also step into the back-line in order to accommodate Hamitlon’s strength in midfield but Bertrand Owundi and Daniel Knutzen look the safer options as things stand.
Jim Brennan was part of the 4-4-2 era of football and might be tempted to deploy something similar in his first ever season at York 9. Ryan Telfer and Kyle Porter aren’t really central midfielders, but the question will become about how Brennan will get Aparicio, di Chiara and the two former MLS men all in the same lineup. With Aparicio being a bit more attack-minded and Di Chiara being more of a pivot, a 4-4-2 diamond may be the answer. At the back, Brennan has several solid options at centre back but right-back looks a lot less crystal clear. As a result, York University central defender Daniel Gogarty may be deployed on the right as Roger Thompson occupies the left. Up front Jim Brennan could decide to go either with a front two and deploy Porter and Telfer deeper in midfield, or could play Michael Cox alone up front with Telfer and Porter a bit more advanced. With being the club’s first ever signing, Simon Adjei can be expected to play a big role this season, regardless of whether he’s a regular starter or not. Jim Brennan definitely has options heading into the opening match on April 27th, and he’ll look to sort out which options are the best within the next week.
There have been many indications that Rob Gale might be setting his side up in a back three and given the fact that his squad remains very midfield-heavy a week before the first game kicks off, this may prove to be correct. Dylan Carreiro, Josip Golubar look the likeliest midfield pairing, but Michael Petrasso and Dylan Sacramento could both play a different role if Gale wanted to go with a 3-5-2. Sacramento might be deployed on the left instead of his usual number 10 role, while Ali Musse looks another likely contender to challenge for the left-wing spot. Petrasso meanwhile can play as a right winger, central midfielder or right fullback. Speaking of fullbacks, Diego Gutierrez and the Uruguyan Martín Arguiñarena look like guaranteed starters and a back-four could be deployed instead of the back-three if Gale wanted to go with an extra man in midfield and drop the wing-backs lower. New signing Adam Mitter could round out the back-three alongside Jordan Murrell and Skylar Thomas, who are being tipped as one of the strongest central defense partnerships in the league. Finally, Tyson Farago looks the likeliest bet to start in goal with British forward Stephen Hoyle up top.
Marcel de Jong’s heartbreaking injury meant that Pacific FC had to quickly sign a couple of new fullbacks. The left-back spot is still relatively up for grabs but Blake Smith looks the most likely contender to claim the spot having arrived on loan from FC Cincinnati. Youngster Kadin Chung might steal the right-back spot having arrived back in Canada after a year in Germany, while Starostzik and MacNaughton should add some much needed experience in the back-line following de Jong’s injury. Matthew Baldisimo is an interesting one due to his versatility and might round out the midfield with Pacific FC’s slight lack of quality there. That being said, 19-year old Noah Verhoeven will be looking to partner former Whitecaps 2 player Victor Blasco in central midfield and prove that Pacific FC have what it takes in the midfield area. Up front it’s a bit more clear-cut with Ben Fisk, Issey Nakajima-Farran and Marcus Haber combining to make one of the deadliest attacking trios in the league. Mark Village will look to beat Nolan Wirth for the number one position in goal, having also arrived from FC Cincinatti.
Halifax Wanderers FC
One of the most challenging things about picking a starting 11 for these newly formed Canadian Premier League teams is we virtually have no idea what formation they are going to play. Stephen Hart seemed to utilize both a 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 during his reign as Canada’s MNT team coach and this could easily be adapted into a 4-2-3-1 to suit the players that HFX have in their roster. But then the issue becomes about the regulations regarding how many Canadian players have to be on the field at once. The likes of Sukunda, Hocine and Akeem Garcia look almost guaranteed to start, while other positions are still completely up for grabs. Up top Luis Perea will hope to either steal a spot away from Canadian striker Tomasz Skublak, or play alongside him, while Juan Diego Gutierrez and Akeem Garcia could play a more advanced role in either a 4-2-2-2 or 4-3-3. One key area of interest is at left-back where the speedy Ndzemdzela Langwa could easily steal a starting birth away from the more experienced Alex de Carolis. 21-year old Elliot Simmons has impressed since his arrival at the club and could be set to start alongside the more experienced Elton John, while varsity athlete Peter Schaale will look to partner Chakib Hocine in central defense after impressing for Cape Breton in the Fall. Stephen Hart will known Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams very well from their time together with the national team and the same goes for Elton John, Andre Ramperstad and Akeem Garcia.
So there it is! The predicted lineups for each Canadian Premier League side. Who do you think is going to start? Which team looks the strongest? Comment below or on Twitter to share your thoughts! See you next time.