Canadian footballers operating in the MLS have been notoriously underrated over the years, but now with the nation putting themselves on the world stage, clubs across the globe should start to pay more attention to our greatest players. One of those who has announced himself on the grandest stage is CF Montreal's Kamal Miller. Miller's been arguably Canada's best defender across the two opening group stage matches at the 2022 World Cup, serving as a nice compliment to his defensive partner Steven Vitoria at the back. With a range of qualities on and off the ball, Miller could easily be playing for a club in Europe's top five leagues already. So with that, we aim to strengthen Miller's case for a move across the pond.
Around this time last year, Brighton & Hove Albion made a stunning swoop for Ecuadorian midfielder Moisés Caicedo, who at the time, was playing for Independiente del Valle in the Ecuadorian Serie A. They swiftly sent him on loan to Belgian First Division side Beerschot for the beginning half of the 2021-22 season, where his success in Belgium prompted the Seagulls to immediately install him in the heart of their midfield for the remainder of the campaign. Now an Albion regular, Moisés Caicedo has been one of the Premier League's standout midfielders since his re-arrival in the Prem, as an up-and-down 'Shuttler' capable of covering ground all over the pitch. Here is our analysis of Ecuador's supreme midfielder Moisés Caicedo.
On March 27, 2022, Canada qualified for the World Cup, for the first time since 1986. The likes of Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies evidently played their part, but perhaps no man was more key to Canada's success in the lead-up to World Cup Qualification than the beating heart in Herdman's midfield - Stephen Eustáquio. Now an FC Porto regular playing week in and week out in the Champions League, the 25-year-old will be integral to Canada's success at the upcoming tournament. Here is our analysis of Stephen Eustáquio, and why he's prepared to play a pivotal role for Canada at the 2022 World Cup.
Daniel Farke's men completely outclassed Dortmund on the break, particularly via the use of quick play through the vertical channels. The man that led that entire process was none other than Marcus Thuram - who recently featured in our 'Direct Goal-Scorer' breakdown. Thuram's a quintessential model of the role, as someone who constantly endeavours to run behind an opposition defense. He's the first outlet in transition, and this makes him absolutely integral to the team given that much of Monchengladbach's brilliance this season has come on the counter. Combine that with Dortmund's own problems at the back and the strange omission of their best transitional warrior, and Edin Terzic set his team up for a disaster.
When on their day, 'Direct Goal-Scorers' can be some of the most entertaining footballers to watch, with a sense of raw intensity beating inside their heart every step of the way. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has shown everyone exactly that this season at Serie A leaders Napoli, but the likes of Sadio Mané and Serge Gnabry have demonstrated their goal-scoring exploits for years.
Alessandro Hojabrpour has been one of the standout performers of the past two seasons in the Canadian Premier League. Playing in an understated defensive midfield role where he's required to proactively participate in all phases of the game, Hojabpour has also been a name that has gone relatively unnoticed when compared to some of his CPL peers. At 22 years of age, with the maturity of someone in their mid-twenties, Hojabrpour should be on the radar of every single MLS club, and soon enough on the radar of our national team. Here is my analysis of the remarkabilities to Alessandro Hojabrpour in 2022, and why he's one of the best midfielders that Canada has to offer.
In our latest analysis series: Game of Numbers, we break down the various tactical undertones of the modern game, most notably the individual roles that players fulfill to help their teams achieve success. This is Issue No. 9, featuring tactical discussions around two of the Bundesliga's top prospects - Youssoufa Moukoko and Christopher Nkunku.
We tracked every single CPL game over the course of the season to come up with our unique rating system. We compile that information alongside each player's defensive, attacking and possession rankings. We present the players that are more than ready for that next step, whether that be playing in the MLS or somewhere in Europe. If rumours have it, Marco Bustos may already be on his way. Here is our analysis of the best '10's' in the CANPL.
Even at the cut-price of £15 million, many unaware football fans were skeptical of Manchester City's move for Manuel Akanji. The thought was that he was an unreliable defender, who frequently made critical defensive errors leading to goals. This happened a few times in Akanji's early days at BVB, and painfully for us as fans, most crucially in the lead-up to Dortmund losing the title in Favre's first year. But what many failed to recognize despite my constant banging of the drum last year - Akanji had grown into one of the best defenders on the planet in his final two seasons at the club. Here is our analysis of Manuel Akanji's start to life at Manchester City.
Following the loss of eventual CPL Golden Boot winner Alejandro Diaz, Pacific FC immediately went from title contenders to top four contenders, scraping into the playoffs with a fourth-place finish come the end of the season. The repeated line as the likes of myself and CPL.ca wrote about Pacific became all about how things could have been very different for Pacific in front of goal had they only had that missing link. Diaz was everything to the Pacific attack, acting as both a 'False 9' capable of dropping deep and receiving the ball, and somehow even fulfilling duties as an occasional 'Target Man' despite his 5'10 height. He linked up with Marco Bustos and Manny Aparicio magnificently well as the three of them dovetailed around each other, and his desire to drop deep often allowed Joshua Heard to run into the vacated space behind. Pacific signed Electric City striker Jordan Brown to try and make up for the loss, but it was clear that Brown was a far less dynamic player, and far less clinical in front of goal. With that, we analyze the essential characteristics in need of replacing when it comes to Diaz and his game, and four possible replacements from around the globe.
After this long-haul search of central midfielders in the CPL, four key figures stand out as being above the level of the league. Ollie Bassett is perhaps the most obvious to catch the eye when you watch him play, and his defensive awareness does not necessarily manifest in crunching into tackles and accumulating positive defensive stats like some of his peers. Here is our analysis of central midfielders inside the Canadian Premier League.
When asking the question of what player to sign, it's important to examine the most relevant information for your context. If you desire to find a true '6' who can hold down the midfield and play as a lone wolf - anchoring all on their own, Andre Rampersad might be your best bet. If looking for someone slightly more savvy in possession, Alessandro Hojabrpour is worth the swing. If you're looking for someone to play in a double pivot and dynamically venture box to box, Diego Gutiérrez is one of the best that the CANPL has to offer. Here is our analysis of the best defensive midfielders in the CPL.
All eight of our centre-backs are fairly similar in their approach, each standing out both in and out of possession. They could each hold their own in a high-possession system, and would likely continue to excel if put under the pressure of greater defensive responsibilities. But they also each have their own unique attributes that may work better in some contexts over others.