The Canadian Premier League is still pretty new with the league growing year by year. In the first season of the CPL, the league saw Michael Petrasso sign with Valour FC in Winnipeg, and in 2020 we saw Fraser Aird also make the jump from Europe to Winnipeg. Both players have had games with Canada’s national team.
Unfortunately, both players were falling each season not just on Canada’s depth charts, but also on their clubs in Europe. Both players are considered some of the best in the CPL. So for this list, I’m going to look at Canadian players in Europe and MLS who have yet to touch foot into the CPL, with it either being as soon as next season, or down the line when players are approaching the end of their careers.
5. Jay Chapman (Dundee FC)
Having played three games for Canada’s senior team, Jay Chapman scored his first and only goal for his country against Bermuda back in 2017. Since then, Chapman played over 100 games in the MLS between Toronto FC and Inter Miami. Now playing in Scotland’s second division with Dundee FC. The Dee had a rich history in Scottish soccer, and brought in Chapman hoping his addition would help them survive relegation, but only playing in two matches for a total of 35 minutes things may have not gone the way they were hoping.
Being under contract until May 2023, Chapman does have time to get his feet wet and help the team back to the premiership, but if lack of games or promotion by the time his contract expires, Chapman could have himself in the CPL. With players like Ashtone Morgan coming to the CPL, I think it opens up windows for other higher-end Canadian players to make that jump.
4. Marcus Godinho (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Coming through the Canadian ranks, starting within the Toronto Soccer system and finding his way into League One Ontario with Vaughn Azzurri, Marcus Godinho found himself a ticket to Scotland to play with Heart of Midlothian. After bouncing around Scotland, having a short stint in Germany, and even getting called up to Canada, Godinho found himself back home were signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
With less than 20 appearances at the time of this article in almost a year, the Toronto native struggles to find regular minutes in the MLS. With his contract expiring this season, we may see Godinho follow Ballou Tabla to the CPL and try to rejuvenate his career. Godinho is only 25 years old and has plenty of time to prove me wrong and get a new MLS contract and stay in the league.
3. Ben Paton (Ross County)
22 years old, from Kitchener Ontario, Ben Paton made just eight appearances in his first season with Ross County in Scotland this past season. Still being young, Paton struggled to find minutes in his first year where he registered no goals and no assists. He’s is not the only Paton on Ross County, big brother Harry Paton is a regular in their lineup.
Unlike Harry, Ben has never been named to the Canadian senior squad and has never appeared in the youth teams as well. Being just 22 years old, there is a lot of time for Ben to grow into a regular in Ross County and he has one more year on his contract to prove that. With a recent transfer with Victor Loturi from the CPL to Ross county, moving to the CPL can be a big move for Ben to find his feet and get regular minutes on a professional pitch.
Another 2-4: Canada Sent Packing – FC13 Podcast
2. Manjrekar James (FC Chornomorets Odesa)
From 2015-2016 Manjrejar James was often called up to Canada’s men’s squad. Falling out of it now at just 28 years old, James has still a lot more to show in his career. The only player on this list not actually born in Canada, James found himself committed to the country after moving to Canada at 9 years old. Moving to the York region, James may have some appeal in making a move to York United by the time he hangs up his boots.
Now playing in Ukraine, James can be watching Osaze De Rosario who is currently playing with York United, after leaving Ukraine. The centre-back would be a solid choice for any CPL team looking to improve their defence, and as the league grows, James may want to come home and play in the town he grew up in. This may take a couple of years, but I don’t see it as too much of a stretch.
1. Yann-Alexandre Fillion (IFK Mariehamn)
Coming from Ottawa, Ontario, Yann-Alexandre Fillion is a 26-year-old goalkeeper that has spent the last two seasons at the highest level of the Finish soccer pyramid. Fillion’s contract expires in December, and unless a contract renewal is offered, he could be looking to move outside of Finland.
Bouncing around lower first division leagues, Fillion did spend time with the Montreal Impact and TFC 2. It is unlikely Fillion will see anytime between the pipes for Canada and that could convince him to leave Europe and come home and play. The Canadian Premier League is soon to be guaranteed two spots into the CONCACAF championship, and you would think that can be enough to get some interest from players who are on the outside looking in.
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