U Sports Soccer: Reviewing Ontario’s Canadian Premier League draft picks

The players are drafted, teams assigned, and a CPL draft oddity.

The annual Canadian Premier League U Sports draft took place on Monday evening, following the U Sports national championships. It’s safe to say that the draft did not go as many expected, with surprise picks nearly every selection.

The player many thought would be a high selection, Charlie Waters, went undrafted. He was just one of the highly skilled players left without teams.

Being based in Toronto, 49 takes a look at what the GTA’s CPL teams got as well as the players picked out of the schools in Ontario University Athletics (OUA).

York 9 FC:

Draft picks: Stefan Karajovanovic (Carleton) and Isaiah Johnston (Cape Breton)

Stefan Karajovanovic:

Image result for stefan karajovanovic"
Stefan Karajovanovic (Carleton .Athletics)

The seventh overall pick, Karajovanovic is a hard name to pronounce, but he’s also a hard player to play against. The Quebecois prospect has had a couple of strong seasons for the Carleton Ravens and has established himself as one of the best players in the OUA. his eight goals in 12 matches. Not only did he have a successful regular season, but he also dominated at nationals, being named to the tournaments best eleven.

York 9 is getting a very good OUA talent in KArajovanic, somebody who could very well earn a spot out of training camp and help the nine stripes put a few more goals in the net in 2020.

Isaiah Johnston:

The other pick, Isaiah Johnston is not an offensive juggernaut, only scoring one goal through eight games this season, but is still a very skilled player.

He is leaving this season as one of the youngest players in all of U Sports. As a 17-year-old in the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) soccer league, he was named the conference’s rookie of the year. The rookie started six of his eight appearances en route to being named a nominee for the national rookie of the year.

While Johnston may earn a spot out of training camp, it is pretty much certain that he will return the Cape Breton Capers come to the start of the 2020 U Sports season.

Karajovanavic will certainly help the 9 next season, whereas Johnston may be phased by age come the CPL season.

Forge FC:

Draft picks: Gabriel Balbinotti and Alex Zis

Gabirel Balbinotti (Ben Steiner)

Gabriel Balbinotti:

In my viewing of the 2019 national soccer tournament, there were two players who stood out above the rest. The first was UBC’s Thomas Gardner, who was selected in the second round by Pacific FC, but the second-best player, in my opinion, was drafted by Forge. That player is Universite de Quebec au Trois-Riviers forward Gabriel Balbinotti.

Coming off a historic national championship, Balbiinotti will come into training camp in great form. He scored the late goal to trigger UQTR’s celebrations and chipped in another two through the national tournament.

The forward was crucial to the Patriotes championship and is coming into the CPL at a good time in his career. Not only is he in good form, but he’s also is 21, meaning age will not be a factor and has even played professionally with the now-defunct Ottawa Fury. all the experienced he has amassed prior to this point will help him in his transition into the CPL.

“I love the game and I can’t wait for the final” Balbinotti said, amir the tears of happiness when his team reached the final. It is clear that his dedication and love for the game is there, two things which will aid him in his quest to secure a 2020 roster spot with Forge.

Alex Zis:

It’s not only professional experience that Forge Fc drafted, but they also got themselves some NCAA div.1 experience.

Coming out of the University of Guelph Gryphons, Alex Zis spent two years at the University of South Florida playing for the Bulls. He began his post-secondary career in Guelph, near his hometown of Oakville, but transferred to South Florida in his second year. The midfielder switched back to Guelph this year and had a very good season.

He contributed on the scoresheet with 14 assists through 11 games this season, a career-best for him. Another bonus for him coming into Forge is that he has experience playing in Ontario League One, the former playing pastures of many at Forge, including manager Bobby Symrinotis.

With the diverse array of experience, the adjustment to the professional ranks will be easier than for some of his fellow draftees.

With the second class of draftees coming into the CPL, it will be intriguing to see whether the 2019 picks play more minutes than the 2018’ers, who played more than many expected.

Cover Photo: U Sports

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