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Breaking down the Fan Awards Team of the Year nominees
Canadian Premier League

Voting is now open for the CPL’s first-ever Fan Awards, where supporters can have their say on a trio of post-season honours (and also win some great prizes).

Three goalkeepers are up for the Allstate Good Hands Award for save of the year, while three attackers are vying for Goal of the Year.

Twenty-two CPLers have been nominated for the fan-chosen Team of the Year, which will provide an 11-man lineup composed of players from across the league. There are two players pitted against one another in each position, and fans will choose between them to build a starting 11.

After breaking down the Good Hands nominees on Monday, today we’ll take a look at the Team of the Year battle. On Wednesday, we’ll look at the Goal of the Year candidates.


RELATED READING: Cast your ballot: CPL Fan Awards


GOALKEEPERS

Marco Carducci (Cavalry FC) vs. Nathan Ingham (York9 FC)

Two Golden Glove nominees here. Carducci won that honour, so will the league’s clean sheet leader (with nine) take this as well? Or might it be Ingham, who made more saves (89) than anyone in the CPL?

DEFENDERS

Amer Didic (L), and Dominick Zator (R), battle for the ball. (Photo: FC Edmonton).
Amer Didic (L), and Dominick Zator (R), battle for the ball. (Photo: FC Edmonton).

Kwame Awuah (Forge FC) vs. Diyaeddine Abzi (York9 FC)

A 905 Derby battle at left-back; Abzi had a goal and four assists, while Awuah notched five helpers this year, as both were dynamic in joining the attack. Awuah brought solid MLS experience to Forge, and Abzi made a name for himself as a gem out of PLSQ.

Daniel Krutzen (Forge FC) vs. Amer Didic (FC Edmonton)

A Belgian champion up against a CPLer who played his way into two Canadian national team camps. Krutzen was a good ball-mover, passing quickly upfield whenever possible, and Didic was an imposing physical force, muscling his way to winning duels and aerial battles.

Mason Trafford (Cavalry FC) vs. Dominick Zator (Cavalry FC)

Two teammates butt heads here; Trafford’s experience helped keep Cavalry’s backline steady all year, while Zator earned national team attention as a top all-around defender either in the middle or at right fullback.

Jeannot Esua (FC Edmonton) vs. Morey Doner (York9 FC)

At right-back, we have a pair of ball-movers keen on joining the attack. Esua brought pace to the right flank, plus defensive responsibility in cutting out passes and distributing the ball reliably. Doner, a surprise out of League1 Ontario, had a goal and four assists en route to becoming an extremely consistent defender for York9.

MIDFIELDERS

Kyle Bekker of Forge takes on York9 in the CPL's inaugural match. (Photo: Reuters).
Kyle Bekker of Forge takes on York9 in the CPL’s inaugural match. (Photo: Reuters).

Julian Büscher (Cavalry FC) vs. Kyle Bekker (Forge FC)

Two of the CPL’s best to choose between here. Büscher was, by most accounts, the best passer in the league, pulling the strings in Cavalry’s midfield. Bekker, captain of the champs, played a more advanced role, proving pundits right in becoming the league’s top creative attacking midfielder (joint-first with five assists).

Elimane Cisse (Forge FC) vs. Elijah Adekugbe (Cavalry FC)

Another Finals matchup here; these two were in and out of the lineup with injury in 2019, but both were impactful when called upon. Cisse was versatile in several different midfield roles, able to both create chances and cut them off. Adekugbe was always confident with the ball, bringing composure to the Cavs’ midfield.

Noah Verhoeven (Pacific FC) vs. Tristan Borges (Forge FC)

A pair of youngsters go face to face here. Verhoeven turned heads as a versatile central midfielder (and, at times, left-back) on Van Isle, but what more can be said of Borges, the CPL’s Golden Boot winner and Player of the Year?

FORWARDS

HFX Wanderers Akeem Garcia moments before scoring on York9 goalkeeper Nathan Ingham. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL).
HFX Wanderers Akeem Garcia moments before scoring on York9 goalkeeper Nathan Ingham. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL).

Marco Bustos (Valour FC) vs. Ryan Telfer (York9 FC)

These two were worth the price of admission every time. Bustos, a diminutive attacker from Winnipeg, baffled defenders all year and notched seven goals plus an assist. Telfer, on loan from Toronto FC for the Nine Stripes, dominated in several positions and banked eight goals, including the first in CPL history.

Akeem Garcia (HFX Wanderers FC) vs. Nico Pasquotti (Cavalry FC)

Garcia was the best player in Halifax this year, leading the charge offensively with seven goals on a team that struggled to score. Pasquotti, meanwhile, dazzled with fancy footwork (and game-changing throw-ins), finishing with five goals and four assists as a top-notch right winger.

Terran Campbell (Pacific FC) vs. Dominique Malonga (Cavalry FC)

Two out-and-out number nines are on offer here, both of whom scored 11 goals. One might vote for youth, in the physically dominant Campbell, or experience, in the versatile finisher Malonga. Either way, both players were assassins in front of goal this year.

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