CPL Headlines: Cavalry continue attacking recruitment with Shaw signing
Canadian Premier League

This Saturday, the Canadian Premier League kicks off its sixth season with an enthralling quartet of matchups.

As such, this is the final CPL Headlines of the 2024 off-season, signalling the end of an entertaining five-and-a-half month stretch of rumours, reports and signings around the league.

One of the biggest themes this off-season in the CPL has been players switching clubs within the league. That again continued this past week with Amer Didić, Malcolm Shaw and Niko Giantsopoulos pulling on new CPL kits for this upcoming season.

Here were the biggest stories around the Canadian Premier League this past week:

Cavalry FC sign Atlético Ottawa original Malcolm Shaw, Myer Bevan’s future uncertain

Atlético Ottawa said goodbye to the last remaining member of its inaugural 2020 squad this past week, while Cavalry FC said hello to an exciting new number nine option.

Trinidad and Tobago international Malcolm Shaw has signed with the Calgary club after four seasons, and 16 goals scored, in the nation’s capital with Atleti. He has appeared a further seven times for the Trinidad and Tobago national team, scoring once.

The 28-year-old from Pickering, Ont. will be looking to get back in the goals this season after scoring just once in 22 appearances this past campaign for Ottawa.

News of Shaw’s signing comes during a week where Cavalry also revealed that Golden Boot winner Myer Bevan has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the club for personal reasons. He has remained in his native New Zealand as the club gets set to open its season on Saturday in Hamilton against rivals Forge.

Bevan was part of Cavalry’s Concacaf Champions Cup campaign in February, scoring their first-ever continental goal against Orlando City SC.

Atlético Ottawa confirm Amer Didić signing, and Zachary Roy returns

The capital club added another significant piece this week after the signing of central defender Amer Didić was announced on Thursday.

The 29-year-old has 101 games of CPL experience, and was nominated for the league’s inaugural Defender of the Year award in 2022. He has also twice appeared for the Canadian men’s national team, becoming the first active CPLer to score for Canada in 2020.

With Diego Espejo’s departure and Karl Ouimette’s retirement, there was a significant hole at centre-back for Ottawa, which Didić fills capably. He joins former Pacific FC teammate Manny Aparicio in making the trip east for this upcoming season.

The backline added further depth this week, with the signing of 20-year-old fullback Zachary Roy. Roy has been a part of the Atleti team for two seasons now, making 16 appearances.

Vancouver FC sign Niko Giantsopoulos, as well as U SPORTS pair Thomas Powell and Sebastian Dzikowski

Niko Giantsopoulos with York United (Trevor MacMillan/HFX Wanderers FC)

It was a busy weekend out west as Vancouver FC continued to add to its roster with a trio of signings.

On Friday, VFC announced the signing of veteran CPL goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos to a one-year contract, plus a club option. The 29-year-old joins his third club within the league, having made 65 appearances in the league between Cavalry FC and York United.

Over the weekend, the club also announced the signings of two players to CPL-U SPORTS contracts, as a pair of players out of BC universities were added to the developmental roster for the upcoming season.

Midfielder Thomas Powell, 22, signed after being selected 15th overall out of Trinity Western University by Vancouver. Meanwhile, the club also signed U SPORTS men’s player of the year Sebastian Dzikowki, a 22-year-old striker out of UBC.

Aiden Rushenas returns for Halifax Wanderers

Halifax announced this week that 20-year-old Aiden Rushenas will be back for the 2024 season, signing a one-year deal with a club option for 2025.

Rushenas, who was selected 10th overall by Halifax in the 2023 CPL-U SPORTS Draft out of Dalhousie University, spent the entire season with the club last year, but did not make an appearance.

He will be looking to push starting goalkeeper Yann Fillion this upcoming season and make his professional debut.

Valour FC re-sign Raphael Ohin

A club legend is returning for his sixth season as Valour confirmed the re-signing of 28-year-old midfielder Raphael Ohin this past week.

Ohin has been with Valour since their inaugural season, but has played just one CPL match since 2021, opening day last season, due to reoccurring knee injuries. He was injured again this past season during Valour’s Canadian Championship match against TSS Rovers.

However, the club is confident that his recovery from this latest setback has been successful and if that is the case, Valour are gaining a significant piece for the 2024 season. He is the only member of the original Valour squad still with the club — in fact the only player still with the club that did not make his first appearance for the team last season.

Vancouver FC, Valour, conclude CPL kit season with a bang

This past week, the final few home and alternate kits for the 2024 CPL season were unveiled as Vancouver FC showcased their viral new ‘Cherry Blossom’ alternate kit, with Valour releasing their dazzling new home and alternate kits.

A portion of every Cherry Blossom kit sold will be donated to the Pink Shirt Day campaign, which raises funds to combat bullying in schools, workplaces and beyond. The shirt has already gained rave reviews from the global soccer community.

Valour FC, meanwhile, gave a nod to their past with the release of their 2024 home kits, which are a nod to the Winnipeg Fury, a pro club in the Canadian Soccer League between 1987 and 1992.

Their stunning alternate strips, meanwhile, honour Manitoba’s indigenous cultures, the Anishinaabe, Cree, Anisininew, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, Deene, Inuit and Red River Métis people.