In the first four years of the CPL, we have seen three players make the jump to MLS. The first player come after the inaugural season in 2019, with Joel Waterman being bought by CF Montreal from Cavalry FC for $82,000. Since then, we saw Toronto FC bring in two defenders from Pacific FC after their title win in 2021.
With the Canadian Premier League getting better year by year, some would argue that the CPL isn’t that far behind MLS when it comes to the talent pool. This often creates the debate about which players in the CPL can make the move to MLS. Here are five players I feel can make the move sometime in the future.
To make the list, players must be owned by their CPL club. This list could be deeper, but in some scenarios, I went younger, and with players who have a higher potential to grow. Players like Amer Đidić and Andre Rampersad were considered, but left off the list.
5. David Choinière (Forge FC)
David Choinière is currently playing in his fourth CPL season after being let go by CF Montreal in 2018. During his time with Montreal, Choinière appeared in seven matches for the Canadian club and earned a call-up to Canada’s men’s senior squad. Unfortunately, he didn’t appear in a game during his call-up.
Choinière lost his spot in CF Montreal after dealing with an ankle injury in 2018. The midfielder found himself on Forge FC, winning two northern shields. Choinière started to get the reputation of scoring big goals in big games after scoring against Liga MX side CD Cruz Azul. If he continues the solid season he has been having, an opportunity may arise for him to join his brother back in the MLS, with his contract expiring after this season.
4. Manny Aparicio (Pacific FC)
Some people may argue Manny Aparicio’s spot on this list because of his age. Being 26 years old this season, Aparicio would be 27 if his move to the MLS happened next year. Toronto FC did buy Luca McNaughton from Pacific last year, and he was 26 years old at the time.
Aparicio has continued to grow in the CPL every season, and his play this season has got him into the conversation for player of the year as well. Unfortunately, Aparicio has been put off track with an injury which had him miss five matches. Aparicio is an important player in Pacific’s lineup, and that has been clear with him out of the lineup. If he can bounce back from his injury, Aparicio can find himself with a new club next season with this being the last year on this contract.
3. Gabriel Bitar (FC Edmonton)
Playing in his first full pro season in Canada at the age of 23, Gabriel Bitar may be the hot take on the list. Coming from Ottawa, Bitar has bounced around all over the Ottawa soccer system. He went over to Lebanon to try out for club Ansar, where he would go on and score three goals in two games, but Bitar decided not to sign with the club and came back to Canada.
Before signing with the Eddies, Bitar did have three matches with Cavalry FC in 2019. Being one of the only positives this season for FC Edmonton, Bitar is here to prove himself to play at a higher level. Bitar may be a player who has to prove himself through the MLS NextPro, but if he keeps up his efforts, he could find himself in the MLS in no time.
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2. Chrisnovic N’sa (York United FC)
If any team in MLS is looking to invest in a right back from the CPL, Chrisnovic N’sa may be the way to go. Potentially York’s best player this year after Diyaeddine Abzi, N’sa could be looking for a move after this season. he is another player on this list whose contract expires at the end of the season. York has struggled to score goals this season, but stopping goals have been their strong suit.
With a solid back end with Dominick Zator and Jordan Wilson, N’sa has been a big part of that. Not only playing down the right side and creating chances, but he is also constantly someone pitching in on the back end, making the right side a hassle to go down. In his third season at 23 years old, N’sa has loads of potential to move up and succeed at the MLS level.
1. Rezart Rama (Forge FC)
Making a massive impression in a short time for Forge, Rezart Rama can find his way into MLS in no time. The 21-year-old Albanian international centre-back came over to Canada after playing for Nottingham Forrest U19. Playing in youth leagues all over Europe, Rama has built up a decent resume of experience.
Coming into Hamilton to play with Forge, Rama got straight into the lineup and has not missed a game yet. Forge FC has lost just two games since Rama joined the squad. Any MLS team could have their eye on him right now, and with him excelling in the CPL and already with the handful of experience he brings, he can be a hidden gem for any MLS side.
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