BURLINGTON, Canada—The 2020 Canadian Premier League awards were handed out on Thursday night with representatives from the two finalists—Forge FC and HFX Wanderers—taking home most of the hardware.
The two sides won four out of the five awards for their performances at the short, yet entertaining Island Games, where Forge won their second consecutive North Star Shield.
The awards are all carvings made in Kinngait, Nunavut by Inuit artists. The video below is a great documentary that was shown at the 2019 CPL Awards about the creation of the awards, the meaning behind the different designs, and the community where they were made.
The full 2020 award show can be watched here:
Here are the winners:
Golden Boot — Akeem Garcia (HFX Wanderers FC)
We already knew the winner of the Golden Boot award — awarded to the player who scores the most goals — as it was decided on the pitch. HFX Wanderers striker Akeem Garcia took home that award by scoring a league-leading six goals during HFX’s run to the final.
Best U21 Canadian — Mo Farsi (Cavalry FC)
Other nominees: Chrisnovic N’sa (HFX Wanderers), Julian Dunn (Valour)
Winning the Best U21 Canadian award is the up-and-coming young right back Mo Farsi of Cavalry FC. In his first season in the CPL, Farsi played all 10 games for Cavalry, and was one of the club’s standout players.
His pace and ability to dribble around defenders like they aren’t even there—likely helped by his time playing futsal—became a big part of how Cavalry played at The Island Games, and he also contributed with a goal.
“It was so hard to open it,” Farsi said with a laugh, talking to reporters after the award show about the box that his award arrived in. “It took me maybe 30 minutes to open it. I was struggling with my scissors—the guys who packed this did a very nice job.”
The 20-year-old will be back with the club in 2021, and if he plays like he did in 2020, may just force himself into John Herdman’s national team conversation.
Toronto FC youngster Julian Dunn, who was loaned to Valour FC for the Island Games, finished a runner-up.
Golden Glove — Triston Henry (Forge FC)
Other nominees: Christian Oxner (HFX Wanderers), Callum Irving (Pacific)
Picking up his first Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper in the CPL is Forge FC shot-stopper Triston Henry.
Henry, 27, played ten times for Forge in 2020, picking up an impressive five clean sheets, making him the all-time league record-holder with 14 — including in both the 2019 and 2020 finals.
Henry wasn’t nominated for the award in 2019, something that Forge players have been very vocal about disputing, despite being among the best goalkeepers statistically, right up there with the eventual winner Marco Carducci.
While Christian Oxner and Callum Irving also had impressive seasons in 2020, Henry was on another level this year and is the deserving winner.
Coach of the Year — Stephen Hart (HFX Wanderers)
Other nominees: Bobby Smyrniotis (Forge), Mista (Atlético Ottawa)
This award was perhaps the hardest to predict as there were two very strong candidates. While what Mista did in Atletico Ottawa’s inaugural season was impressive, this one was always going to come down to Forge FC’s Bobby Smyrniotis and HFX’s Stephen Hart.
For a second year in a row it was the losing coach in the final (in 2019 it was Cavalry’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr) that took home the award over Smyrniotis, but again there was a strong case for both of the top two.
For Smyrniotis, it was a second North Star Shield win in as many years, and proving that he's at the helm of the best team in the league's short history. If he had won the award on either occasion it would hardly have come as a surprise.
What earned Hart the award this year was his ability to bring a new-look HFX Wanderers team all the way to the final. After a disappointing inaugural season in which they finished last, there was a massive roster shakeup in Halifax, with the Wanderers bringing in 15 new players.
From last to first, he got his side playing entertaining football and within 90 minutes of their first North Star Shield, something that seemed impossible a year ago, so for that reason is the 2020 Coach of the Year.
Player of the Year — Kyle Bekker (Forge)
Other nominees: Marco Bustos (Pacific), Akeem Garcia (HFX Wanderers)
After losing this award to teammate Tristan Borges a year ago, Kyle Bekker is the recipient of the 2020 Player of the Year award.
The only player in league history to be nominated for it in both years, the former Toronto FC draft pick, Bekker, won the 2020 title by picking up three goals and an assist on his way to his second North Star Shield.
The Forge captain played in all eleven games for The Hammers at The Island Games, and his attention now turns to his side's match on Tuesday against Haitian club Arcahaie FC in the CONCACAF League.
Do you agree with the winners? If not, who do you think should've won? Let us know in the comments.