VANCOUVER, BC – Canada is heading to the men’s FIFA World Cup in November, and there has never been a brighter time for the men’s game north of the 49th parallel. With so many talents reaching the top levels of the global game, there has never been a better time for Canada’s domestic league.
The 2022 Canadian Premier League season features eight teams playing a balanced 28 game schedule and playing in home markets from the first kick for the first time since the inaugural season.
The Championship Final is scheduled for Oct. 29, before Canada’s first World Cup match against Belgium on Nov. 23.
With another year of the CPL set to start, U SPORTS players will be a major factor for another year. As more Canadian university stars join the league, the potential for game-breakers is greater than ever.
49 Sports took a look at the must-watch U SPORTS players in the eastern four teams, but now we head west to look at one player to watch from the Canadian university ranks this season.
Pacific FC – Jordan Haynes (UBC Thunderbirds)
Pacific FC has relied on U SPORTS players throughout their first three seasons, but they will only have one on the roster come kickoff in 2022. After former UBC Thunderbirds Chris Lee signed with Whitecaps FC 2 of MLS Next Pro; the defending CPL champions are left with only former UBC fullback Jordan Haynes, entering his third season with the club.
Haynes has grown into an essential role on the Tridents after catching head coach James Merriman’s eye at U SPORTS Nationals in 2019, suitably replacing retired Pacific captain Marcel de Jong on the left flank.
The 26-year-old left-back made 29 appearances in all competitions last season, playing the 7th-most minutes for the club and laying on one assist. While he has yet to score in CPL play, his attacking qualities and ability to track back are integral to Pacific’s success and are critical in a season where they look to defend their 2021 North Star Shield Championship.
Cavalry FC – Tyson Farago (Winnipeg Wesmen)
Tyson Farago knows the CPL. After backstopping Valour in starter and backup roles for two seasons, he joined Cavalry in 2021, playing four games behind mainstay Marco Carducci.
In 2022, Cavalry would have hoped to rely on the CPL veteran, however a car accident in the offseason keeps him out of potential selection as he recovers from a back injury.
With the 30-year-old out of action for the foreseeable future, Cavalry FC won’t have any U SPORTS talent to draw on.
FC Edmonton – Kairo Coore (Cape Breton Capers)
Kairo Coore has only played one U SPORTS season, but he is the most exciting U SPORTS player in the CPL for 2022. A fast, intuitive forward who can sneak in behind backlines and play as a false nine, Coore scored 15 goals and an assist in just 12 AUS matches.
Under head coach Deano Morely with the Capers, he thrived with talented players such as Jose da Cunha and established himself as one of U SPORTS’ most prolific attacking talents.
As FC Edmonton adjusts to life after Easton Ongaro, Coore can dominate the CPL and become one of the league’s best strikers. While it is a way down the road, Coore. 20, has the qualities to develop into a future with the Canadian Men’s National Team.
Valour FC – Matteo de Brienne (Carleton Ravens)
There’s a lot of U SPORTS talent on Valour FC, and even though de Brienne highlights the group, others will play a critical role.
Jacob Carlos of the Ryerson Rams catches the eye as a potential breakout star. Still, de Brienne has a knack for the spectacular and has the opportunity to establish himself as a premier force in the league.
After a single year with the Carleton Ravens, winning the U SPORTS silver medal while turning heads, de Brienne is re-joining the CPL after failing to settle in with Atletico Ottawa in 2020.
While he is listed as a left-back, de Brienne plays a much more versatile role, often pushing up into the play and sending in crosses to attackers. Expect him to thrive in a team that includes William Akio, who settled into the CPL last season with Valour.
The OUA named de Brienne the west division rookie of the year in 2021, scoring six goals in 10 appearances.