Canada’s success on the world stage gives new meaning to the choice of soccer player of the year
For over a decade, I have had the privilege of voting for Canada’s Soccer Player of the Year.
Needless to say, it hasn’t always been this fun.
Yes, my time in the company has coincided with some very good national women’s teams, but it was only relatively recently that the best female footballers in this country were racking up accolades in some of the best leagues in the world as well.
And then there were the men.
In fact, it was not so long ago that the men’s ballot was an exercise in disappointment. Just picking three names was a chore; ranking them seemed ridiculous (voters rank their choices from 1 to 3). Well those days are long gone.
The past calendar year has seen the men’s national team reach the last four of the Gold Cup and win the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying final round. Major European titles have been won, and all signs point to promising players making the contenders ?? even more competitive pool.
The voting process is now a dream ?? the Olympic gold medal won by Canada’s women in Tokyo, the icing on the cake of this soccer snack.
To this end, I would like to share my ballot with you ?? and not just to show the incredible talent that this country constantly deploys on the ground.
Last month’s Ballon d’Or farce, in my opinion, revealed the need for a little more transparent procedures. Who actually votes and how did they fill out their ballots? Then there is the soon to be renamed award for Canada’s top athlete. It’s almost like a puff of smoke is rising and, poof, here’s the winner.
So here is my released ballot for Canada’s Soccer Player of the Year, along with my thought process. The ballot, in this case, is due today, and I submitted mine on Thursday afternoon.
1. Cyle Larin: My choice for Canada’s men’s soccer player of the year led Besiktas to a brace in the Super Lig and Turkish Cup. Istanbul’s side edged city rivals Galatasaray in the title on goal difference, and Larin’s quadruple in the penultimate game of the season put them above. The 26-year-old’s 14 goals for Canada ?? including a brace against Mexico in Edmonton ?? also set a national team record.
2. Alphonso Davies: Last year’s winner won a third Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich and was named to the 2021 world squad by the International Federation for Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). His 15 assists set a Canadian record in a single season, and his spectacular goal against Panama in World Cup qualifying instantly became one of the men’s team’s most defining moments.
3. Jonathan David: His 12 goals helped Lille win an unlikely Ligue 1 title last spring, and his 11 so far this season sits ahead of the French top flight, placing him above Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi. Alleged transfer target for Arsenal and Inter Milan, the 21-year-old has also scored seven times for Canada in 2021 and scored the only goal in a crucial victory against Costa Rica.
1. Ashley Lawrence: When it comes to the best left-back in women’s football, my pick for Canada’s soccer player of the year is in category one ?? or, two, if we’re going to be generous and include the Spanish Maria Pilar León. In 2021, Lawrence played every one of Canada’s Olympic games en route to the gold medal, and she was a key contributor to Paris Saint-Germain’s winning first season. The 26-year-old was also named to the Team of the Season by the Women’s Division 1 and the Women’s Champions League.
2. Stéphanie Labbé: Canada’s National Women’s Team will not win the gold medal without Labbé. It’s that simple. Finalist for FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year, was she heroic in Tokyo ?? especially when faced with a 12-meter shooter. In August, the 35-year-old joined fellow Canadians Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema at PSG.
3. Jessie Fleming: It’s too late to be considered this year, but Chelsea’s Fleming just happens to be the reigning Women’s Super League player of the month. At the Olympics, her penalty put Canada on the path to a first victory over the United States in 21 years, and she also scored the tying goal in the gold medal game against Sweden.