CanPL.ca has learned just two Eddies are on guaranteed contracts for 2021 – Easton Ongaro and Jeannot Esua – giving the incoming gaffer a clean slate with which to work. This situation should help draw plenty of coaching candidates, with the eventual new man in charge having more flexibility to shape the roster as he sees fit.
Valour FC – Andrew Jean-Baptise
Rumours of Andrew Jean-Baptiste’s departure from Winnipeg were greatly exaggerated.
“We’re delighted he’s committed not just for this upcoming season but longer with us,” Valour coach Rob Gale said, hintingJean-Baptiste being back in Winnipeg in 2022. “He’s a leader, he’s gritty, he’s always cheering players up. “He was a huge piece.”
Cavalry FC – A positive outlook
If you recall, the Cavs departed PEI ravaged with injuries: Sergio Camargo, Nik Ledgerwood, Nico Pasquotti, and Oliver Minatel left the group shorthanded.
However disappointing their departure and resulting long-term injuries were, the team is keeping their heads held high. Pasquotti took to social media to address his news with CPL coaches, players, and fans offering loads of support, along with the clever #PositivePasquotti hashtag.
While Cavalry’s season ended on a sour note, it’s clear they’re on the rebound.
Forge FC – Undivided attention to Concacaf League
Bobby Smyrniotis and Forge FC can put their full attention into the 2020 CONCACAF League.
The preliminary round of the continental competition for Forge is set to kickoff in El Salvador against Municipal Limeño on Oct. 22. A date with Panamanian side Tauro FC awaits the winner in the round of 16..
Effects from COVID-19 offer a much favourable schedule for Forge this year than in 2019, when their second-round tilt with Olimpia was sandwiched between CPL matches against Cavalry at Tim Hortons Field and away to Pacific FC.
Also, unlike the other seven teams on this list, Forge is actually playing matches… So that’s nice!
Pacific FC – A close-knit group
The gang’s all here for Pacific FC, with the majority of platers remaining on Vancouver Island for the start of the off-season.
Kah has utilized this geographical advantage, too, keeping players in camp until November, as Marco Bustos recently revealed. More time to gel as a team and a better chance to be competitive in 2021.
Atlético Ottawa – A chance to breathe
A club built in 15 days.
That’s how CEO Fernando Lopez described the hectic early weeks of Atlético Ottawa’s existence. Announced a few months before the 2020 season was slated to kick off, Atlético went from stranded in Madrid, to self-isolation, to jetting off to PEI to play their inaugural season.
Now, for the first time, Atlético Ottawa has time – a chance to build towards a first proper 2021 season with fans at TD Place.
“I cannot imagine what our team would have been if we played at TD Place… with more time afforded to us,” Lopez told CanPL.ca, adding the club is looking to organize, set out proper plans, and reach out to area soccer fans in 2021.
“The only positive thing we can take away from COVID is 2020 was a warm-up for us. Right now we have plenty of time to plan and execute.”
York9 – New opportunities for Michael Petrasso
York9’s shiny off-season toy never really got played with on PEI (excuse the metaphor). The 25-year-old only saw 130 minutes of action for his hometown club in 2020, as he carried injuries issues suffered with Valour FC in CPL’s Year 1.
Recently signed to a two-year deal, Petrasso has been given the perfect chance to get his fitness back via a loan deal with Barnet FC in the English Conference.
A season-long loan should return Petrasso to the top of his game, something we haven’t seen from him yet in CPL.
HFX Wanderers – Being a desirable destination for free agents
Getting players to sign with the Wanderers was a tough sell in 2020 after the club finished dead last in the overall standings.
This year, well, Halifax is a much brighter landing spot: Island Games finalists, home to a golden boot winner Akeem Garcia, and those rabid Wanderers Grounds fans make it a viable option CPL free agents.
Be thankful, Wanderers fans – Halifax will be the place to be in 2021.