Ahead of the 2019 Major League Soccer All-Star Game this Wednesday, TSN Soccer Analyst Kristian Jack makes his picks for the five best Canadian players in the league from the first half of the season.
5. Maxime Crepeau, Goalkeeper, Vancouver Whitecaps
Crepeau who has become one of the most valuable members of their Whitecaps in his first year out west. The netminder was originally signed from Montreal as a backup to Zac MacMath but immediately showed the Whitecaps and their fans that he can be their No. 1, arriving full of confidence following a year on loan in the USL with Ottawa Fury. The 25-year-old made headlines and highlight shows with his remarkable triple save against Atlanta United, but this has not just been a season of moments for Crepeau. He has built a tremendous body of work improving in all areas of his game, including his distribution. All he needed was a chance and now he is showing he can do more than just compete for a place at this level.
4. Jonathan Osorio, Midfielder, Toronto FC
The 27-year-old has yet to hit top gear in 2019, a season where he was asked to play multiple positions and start vital games for Canada at the Gold Cup before battling illness when he returned to his club. When he’s played in a midfield three for club and country it is clear to see why he is maybe the most talented Canadian in all of MLS, showing calmness in possession, terrific awareness of space and providing a real tactical balance to a squad with and without the ball. The more minutes he gets to play with Alejandro Pozuelo, the better he will be. Osorio will be keen to nurture that relationship and add more goals for Toronto FC in the second half.
3. Samuel Piette, Midfielder, Montreal Impact
The 24-year-old Quebec native brings remarkable steadiness to a squad in desperate need of it, consistently being one of the best at interceptions in MLS. Piette revels in stepping up at crucial times against opponents who often get thwarted during an attacking transition when targeting Montreal at their most vulnerable stage. Impact boss Remi Garde’s appreciation for Piette grows by the game, and much like national team head coach John Herdman, is finding it very difficult to find a similar profile of a player to replace Piette when he isn’t on the pitch.
2. Doneil Henry, Defender, Vancouver Whitecaps
The centre back is having his best professional season despite it proving to be a difficult one for his club. The 26-year-old has battled numerous injuries in his career, but started the year in terrific shape and immediately established an excellent relationship in the heart of the defence with Erik Godoy. This allowed Henry to blossom into a terrific on-field leader, starting the first 13 games and allowing just 16 goals against, boosting his confidence to a level where he dominated some opponents reading the game supremely well and using his size to win crucial aerial duels. Henry is now without question one of the best bargains amongst defenders in the league at his current cap hit of around $200,000 and looks to be playing his way to a more lucrative contract.
1. Mark-Anthony Kaye, Midfielder, Los Angeles FC
Kaye is a Major League Soccer all-star and one of the most valuable members of unquestionably the best team in MLS right now in LAFC. Bob Bradley’s side are playing at a pace and level few have ever seen before in MLS. While MVP favourite Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi get the headlines for their goals, Kaye - alongside the brilliant Eduard Atuesta - has received much-deserved accolades for playing a vital role inside the most complete midfield in the league. Kaye brings balance with his left foot, tenacity, skill, intelligence and true competitiveness that has given LAFC weapons that have proved too much for many teams in the league. The 2018 season ended early for Kaye through injury but 2019 looks to be making up for it with many predicting he and his side will be lifting MLS Cup come November.