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Canadian Premier League: An FM20 Guide

Recently, we’ve had the Canadian Premier League introduced. A national league, coast to coast, with just seven teams. More exciting yet, this league was recently introduced as free DLC for FM 20, so you can play it yourself. Even excitinger, the World Cup is coming to Canada (and a couple of other places) in 2026! This means that 40 years on from our only other appearance in the big tournament, we’ll be back on the world stage again. It’s a good time to be a Canadian football fan.

(Map note: the drive from York9 FC to Forge FC takes one hour. The drive from Calvary FC to FC Edmonton – which is depicted too far north here – is about 4 hours. This country is Very, Very, Big.)

As am immigrant, like so many of my fellow Canadians, I’ve loved football all my life. Proper football, I mean, not the pointy-egg version where they mostly carry it and throw it. We’ve grown used to viewing our football through an ethnic lens. Local teams represent different immigrant populations, like Hrvat or Scarborough Azzurri, and most are fans of distant European teams.

The big difference in the Canadian Premier League is that instead of viewing our football through the immigrant community lens, we’ll now be looking at it through the geographical community lens, much more like the rest of the world. Today, I want to introduce you to the league, the players, and the teams of the CPL.

The Canadian Premier League

HFX Wanderers (prediction: 7th)

  • Halifax, NS (east coast)
  • 7000 seat stadium
  • Basic and poor facilities
  • Vision: Be Competitive
  • Rivals: none
  • Finances: OK

HFX Wanderers are one of the six clubs founded in 2018, founded specifically to form the Canadian Premier League. Their position on the east coast means they can draw from a large population of Maritimers for fans, people who don’t get much consideration by national sports. Their top players, to my eye, are: Alessandro Riggi, a Canadian AML who’s rated 4*; Trinbagonian AMR Akeem Garcia is a fine player, checking in at 3.5/4.5 stars; and Louis Beland-Goyette, a box-to-box midfielder with some good physicals, also 3.5/4.5. 

As far as prospects go, the cupboard isn’t bare, but the pantry isn’t bulging either. Jamaican AML Alex Marshall rings in as the best prospect, 4 stars rising to 5 potential. Two fullbacks round out the prospects, Canadians Daniel Kirumbe (3/4.5, DL) and Mateo Restropo (2.5/5, DR). 

Honestly, the season outlook isn’t good for HFX. Their top players aren’t as good as the top players elsewhere in the league, and most of their prospects are far from first-team level yet. With a decent-sized stadium for this league, they should hope to draw well from their virtual monopoly of live sports in the Maritimes.

Valour FC (prediction: 6th)

  • Winnipeg, MB (eastern prairies, central Canada)
  • 33500-seat stadium
  • Below average and basic facilities
  • Vision: Be Competitive
  • Rivals: none
  • Finances: OK

Valour FC have the disadvantage of being the 3rd-biggest sports franchise in the city, with the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL (Canadian Football League, the Canadian rules version of US football). Sharing their stadium with the Bombers, they have the potential to outsell all the other teams in the league, simply by virtue of the sheer number of seats. 

Looking at their playing squad, they seem to be very well-stocked at fullback: all three of their top players are natural left backs. Congolese Arnold Bouka Moutou (4.5) leads the way, with Canadian Brett Levis (4/4.5) and Uruguayan Martin Arguinarena (4) providing ample competition.

While they have a number of fully 5-star prospects, their current ability sees them more as squad players at the moment. With the right time and attention to development, they could have the core of a fine team in a few years. Attacking midfielders Tyler Attardo (AML) and Nicolas Galvis (AMC), both Canadian, are 3 and 2.5 stars respectively, while Raphael Garcia, also Canadian, has 2.5 stars. All three have 5 star potential. 

Valour look to me to have balance issues in the squad, with too much quality in too few positions. They have some undoubtedly excellent players for this level, and should be able to hold their own this season, but their pre-season predicted finish of 6th will probably not be too far off the final position. But if they can develop those prospects…watch out. 

FC Edmonton (prediction 5th)

  • Edmonton, AB (western prairies, north of Calgary)
  • 5000-seat stadium
  • Below average facilities
  • Vision: Be Competitive
  • Rivals: Cavalry FC
  • Finances: OK

FC Edmonton, or the Eddies as they’ve been called since their founding in 2009, are the only team to come into the league fully formed and operating. They’ve been part of top US development leagues for several years, before moving to the CPL at its founding. Their defence appears particularly stacked, as all three of their top players are from the back line: Spanish left back Ramon Soria (4.5), and centre backs Amer Didic (4/4.5) and Kareem Moses (3.5, Trinbagonian). The three will form the core of a solid defence that should help the Eddies be a stubborn team to break down.

For prospects, they’ve got Peruvian AMR Raul Tito (3.5/5), AML Marcus Velado-Tsegaye (2.5/5), and striker Easton Ongario (3/4.5), the first of which is quite impressive for his age. The others will develop into pretty good players within a couple of years, so this team should be thought of as on the up. With only seven teams in the league, it doesn’t take a lot to move from 5th to 1st. 

The Eddies are my pick to exceed their season preview prediction. I think they’ve got enough about them to finish in the top 3. 

Forge FC (prediction 4th)

  • Hamilton, ON (central Canada, near Toronto)
  • 14000-seat stadium
  • Below average and basic faciilties
  • Vision: Top 3
  • Rivals: York9
  • Finances: OK

Forge FC will probably become my “local” team (they’re only about 80km away, a mere pittance in Canadian terms), based in Hamilton, Ontario, a steeltown at the western end of Lake Ontario (quite close to the famous Niagara Falls). Hamilton has long had a love affair with football, both the pointy-egg kind and our kind, having had the CFL’s Tiger-Cats for many years, and formerly having a team in the CPSL, a long-vanished predecessor to the CPL. Trivia time: Justin Fashanu played for Hamilton in the CPSL, before his untimely passing.

Expect good crowds to develop in Hamilton, which like most Canadian cities is full of immigrants and their descendants. It’s a working-class town, and it’s got some hard workers in its Canadian Premier League side. David Edgar (4.5) leads the way, a great leader with a long history in North American football as a centre back. Kyle Bekker is somewhat younger, playing as a natural mezzala, and rated at four stars, while Senegalese holding midfielder Elimane Cisse looks to be class (3.5/4.5). 

For prospects, they’ve got some waiting to do. Striker Marcel Zajac (2.5/4.5), and fullbacks (both Canadian 2/3 rated players) Klaidi Cela and Monti Mohsen, right and left respectively, still have some growing up ahead of them. Really, only Zajac looks like a prospect who will improve the team very much. While Forge FC are hoping for top 3, I don’t see them finishing higher than 5th, and their long-term outlook isn’t much better. 

Pacific FC (prediction 3rd)

  • Victoria, BC (on the island off the west coast)
  • 6000-seat stadium
  • Poor facilities
  • Vision: Top 3
  • Rivals: none
  • Finances: OK

Pacific FC have an ownership group consisting entirely of former Canadian internationals. For example, Simpson, Friend, Bridge, so many more, all come together to own a football club where one hasn’t been before. Victoria has no other major sports to compete with Pacific FC, and football is probably the right kind of game for the laid-back, artistic Islanders to appreciate. 

Canadian legend Marcel de Jong (DL, 4.5) leads a pretty impressive cast of characters into this season, with AMR Terran Campbell (4/5) and Mexican striker Alejandro Diaz (3.5/4.5) following his experienced lead. Some excellent youngsters, ready for first-team play right away, include AMCs Noah Verhoeven and Alessandro Hojabrpour (3.5/5 and 3/5 respectively), and right fullback Kadin Chung (3/4.5). 

With a strong team bristling with talent, I think Pacific FC could well finish as high as 2nd, or as low as 4th. They’d be a good challenge to try and win the league with. 

York9 FC (prediction 2nd)

  • York, ON (just north of Toronto)
  • 3000 seat stadium
  • Poor and basic facilities
  • Vision: Top 3
  • Rivals: Forge FC
  • Finances: OK

York9 FC are as close as the CPL comes to treading on Toronto FC’s toes, but it’s a light step. York is the name of the region surrounding Toronto, also known as the 905 for its telephone area code – thus the 905 Derby with Forge FC, just down the Queen Elizabeth Way from Toronto. For a team in such a huge metropolitan area, they have the smallest stadium in the league, with just 3000 for a max attendance. Such is the appetite for football in Toronto that they might just find that 3000 is too small, over time. 

York9 have a seriously talented lineup. Peruvian striker Adrian Ugariza leads the line (4.5/5), with Canadian national team right winger Mike Petrasso (4.5), and Brazilian striker Gabriel Vasconcelos (4/4.5) taking up the next two spots. Solid first XI here, and definitely a team that can challenge for the league title. 

Their long-range outlook seems a little less rosy. Fugo Segawa leads the way, a Japanese left back with great potential (2/4.5). Moroccan-Canadian Diyaeddine Abzi (3/4) can play in midfield or at left back, while Emilio Estevez Tsai is a less shiny prospect at AMC (2.5/3.5). 

Cavalry FC (prediction 1st)

  • Calgary, AB (western prairies, south of Edmonton)
  • 5000-seat stadium
  • Poor and basic facilities
  • Vision: Win the league
  • Rivals: FC Edmonton (AL Classico)
  • Finances: OK

Lastly, we come to Cavalry FC, the media’s pick to finish first overall, because they have some standout top players. These are goalkeeper Marco Carducci (4), Peruvian striker Jair Cordova (4.5), and DM Nikolas Ledgerwood (4). This is the spine of a very good team, needing only a couple of good centre backs to finish off.

Several outstanding prospects round out the side, with three attacking midfielders looking the brightest stars among them: right winger Richard Luca of Brazil (3/5), AMC Malyk Hamilton (2.5/5) and AMR Jose Hernandez (2.5/5). All are nearly ready for first-team football, and will grace the Cavalry side for a long time. 

Let’s be honest: Cavalry will probably win the league, and if you play them, you’ll almost certainly win the league. You should play them if you’re particularly interested in the continental competitions, because they should be involved for the first couple of seasons at least. 

Conclusion

The Canadian Premier League looks like a great league to start off in, if you’re just starting out on FM. It’s small enough to get to know the players well, and for rivalries to build up quickly. It’s financially stable, though it’s not wealthy. You’ll be doing a lot of scouting in Canada. And looking in the US for Canadians who got college scholarships to the Division I NCAA schools. I strongly recommend trying this challenge out, even for a couple of seasons. You might find it hooks you pretty quickly. 

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Written by oldladyplays

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