CREDIT: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Marco Carducci (Cavalry FC, 22)
If there’s one Canadian Premier League goalkeeper I’m most excited about, it’s Cavalry FC’s Marco Carducci.
Despite his young age (he’s only 22-years-old), the native of Calgary has a lot of appearances to fall back on. Carducci has spent the majority of his existence playing soccer, with the better part of 14 years spent in several youth academies across Western Canada. Carducci made appearances for the Vancouver Whitecaps at the U-23, reserve, and senior levels. He also represented Canada at various youth levels, and he was named the country’s best U-17 player in 2012 and 2013.
On a marketing level, Carducci’s biggest selling point is his hometown connection. The Cavalry FC goalkeeper was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. He played most of his youth career with Calgary-based youth teams, and he’s proudly represented his city when playing for the Canadian national youth teams. In 2018, despite offers from several top USL clubs, Carducci elected to return to Calgary and play for the local Calgary Foothills FC of the PDL. In his one season with the club, he was awarded the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award. Now, Carducci is set to make his professional league debut with the Calgary-based Cavalry FC, and if his quality continues to rise, I expect him to become a cult hero.
Quillan Roberts (Forge FC, 24)
Forge FC goalkeeper Quillan Roberts is a top front runner for the league’s inaugural “golden glove” award, and for good reason; the 24-year-old is arguably the most well-known goalkeeper in the Canadian Premier League.
The native of Toronto, Ontario, is a Toronto FC academy product. Roberts spent three years with the club’s youth set-up. In 2012, Roberts became the academy’s seventh graduate and first goalkeeper graduate when he signed a first-team contract. The then-17-year-old was just a year removed from representing Canada at the 2011 U-17 World Cup, where he made three appearances and even scored a goal. Roberts never cracked Toronto FC’s starting eleven though, despite spending four seasons with the club. Roberts was released in 2016, and following unsuccessful spells with the Woodbridge Strikers, York University Lions, and Los Angeles FC, Roberts joined Forge FC in 2019.
After years of questions regarding his job security and future, Roberts is finally getting a chance to start for a professional club. Given the number of years he spent in the MLS with Toronto FC and Los Angeles FC, it’s a surprise that Roberts never cracked the line-up even once. Still, all of his previous training means that he’s familiar with professional settings, and given that he’s only 24, his potential is still there to be discovered.
That’s really the biggest plus for Forge FC and the greater Canadian Premier League. His experience, youthfulness (in goalkeeper years), and hunger to prove himself, is exactly the mix the CanPL is looking to build off of. Add in his Canadian background, his professionalism, and his ability to make highlight reel stops, and you get a goalkeeper who should be one of the faces of the Canadian Premier League for years to come.
Matt Silva (York9 FC, 28)
If Quillan Roberts is the favourite for the Canadian Premier League’s “golden glove,” than Matt Silva is the dark horse. The Canadian of Portuguese descent is very rarely brought up in discussions surrounding the league’s best goalkeepers, but I believe he soon will be.
Silva was born in Mississauga in 1991 and spent most of his youth and early professional career with the Toronto Lynx. He spent four years playing college soccer with Syracuse’s Le Moyne Dolphins, earning a Northeast-10 Conference rookie of the year win and several conference all-star honours. Silva joined Kaya of the Philippines in 2015, but he failed to break into the starting eleven. He moved to Bodens BK in 2016 and made over 40 league appearances for them across two years. In 2018, he joined fellow Swedish fourth division club Österlens FF, with whom he made 26 league appearances. In February 2019, Silva became York9 FC’s first-ever goalkeeper signing.
At 6 ft 1, Silva isn’t exactly the tallest goalkeeper in the league. He’s also 28-years-old, and while his experience in the Swedish fourth division is something, seven years with nothing close to first division experience isn’t the best clout for someone his age.
That’s what makes him a good underdog to follow, though. Silva isn’t talked about as much as some of the league’s other goalkeepers (at least, not in a positive way), but I see attributes in his game that might help him excel. Silva plays an aggressive style. He isn’t afraid to charge off of his line for claims, and he likes to play at the edge of his six-yard box. Given the amount of depth available on York9’s defensive roster, I think Silva could potentially find success.
Jan-Michael Williams (HFX Wanderers FC, 34)
By far the most-capped goalkeeper in the Canadian Premier League, it’ll be interesting to see what the 34-year-old Jan-Michael Williams can bring to Stephen Hart’s HFX Wanderers FC. The Trinidadian was close to retiring following 2018 World Cup qualifiers but was convinced otherwise by Hart, who coached him with the Trinidad & Tobago national team.
“Stephen said to me, ‘Ah, you’re crazy.’ He thought I had way more to give,” Williams told the CanPL website.
Most of what Williams can give comes down to his experience. He’s by far the league’s most experienced player, having earned over 80 caps with Trinidad and Tobago’s senior team. These include appearances in the 2007, 2013, and 2015 Gold Cups. Williams has been a consistent starter for the Soca Warriors across his career, and he was shortlisted for the CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2013. For these reasons, I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams is named Wanderers captain in their inaugural season.
This won’t be an easy year, though. The HFX Wanderers are far from the favourites to top the league and given their Maritimes location, there’s a small fear that they might be forgotten by the broader CanPL audience. As the club’s veteran, there will be pressure on Williams to translate his national team success to the club level (something he hasn’t successfully done before). Coach Hart believes in him though, and given his preseason performances, it’s safe to assume that Williams is ready for at least one more rodeo.
Do you agree with my selections? Which other CanPL goalkeepers will you be keeping tabs on this season? Let me know in the comments and on Twitter through @ThatArabKeeper!