The Canadian Premier League (CanPL) has given a new professional sporting pathway to collegiate athletes in Canada. For two former York Lions, and now CanPL players Sunday was a homecoming- despite not being students anymore.
Prior to the creation of the league, the professional opportunities for Canadian collegiate athletes were slim, offering only the CFL for football players . When it came to soccer, there was no route for top athletes to take.
Unlike in the United States, there was no college draft from U Sports into the professional ranks. That is, before the creation of the Candadian Premier League. Ahead of the inaugural CanPL season, the league announced it would be holding a three round draft, selecting the best players from U Sports soccer, the Canadian version of the NCAA.
Although the idea of the draft was similar to that of MLS’s SuperDraft, the regulations of the players contracts were different in some very significant ways. The most important cache the CanPL contracts offered was the chance to continue ones university studies while pursuing professional soccer. No other league in the world offers an option like this, but it meant that the CanPL draft picks were risk free when entering the professional game.
Drafted players were presented two options. One was to sign a full contract and leave their university sports and studies, while the other option was to only play for the CanPL side in the summer- returning to their schools academics and athletics in the fall.
The York University Lions were one of the schools to have multiple players selected into the CanPL, and on Sunday- two former Lions went head to head back on their old stomping grounds.
The match between Valour FC and York 9 at York Lions stadium gave a homecoming to two players who chose to pursue their professional careers- albeit at different CanPL clubs. Rather than going back to school Daniel Gogarty and Dylan Carrerio decided to commit their lives to the game.
Both took part in the match, which was a barnburner between the two sides, that ended with Valour coming out of the goalfest as 4-2 victors. Neither U Sports pick played a very big role in the game, but it was a constant underlying story throughout the afternoon.
The match was ruled by forgein players for Y9, as Chilean forward Rodrigo Gattas provided the home sides two goals. The visitors from Winnipeg relied on their Canadians, and it proved to be the right decision. 18 year old midfielder Tyler Attardo netted himself a goal, bringing his goal tally up to six on the season, good for second best for any player under twenty, only Pacific’s Terran Cambell has more goals scored as a teenager.
While Attardo opted not to attend university, he is an example of another type of player the league was made to develop. The 2001 born midfielder is one of many bright spots of the CanPL at the moment.
In speaking with 49 after the match against York 9 Attardo said “I never really looked at college, just wanted to chase a pro opportunity.” Thankfully, the CanPL came around at the right time to give him the opportunity he was hoping for.
Although the two U Sports pick in the Valour vs York 9 match did not have much effect, many of the draft picks are- none more so than Pacific’s Zach Verhoeven who has been tormenting defenders his whole season. The Wanderers also have their share of contributing draft picks, with their defense being built around former Cape Breton defender Peter Schalle.
The Canadian Premier League has given young Canadians a chance to develop their soccer talents, and hopefully grow the Canaddian game to have world wide success on the pitch.