Five from Five: Success stories from previous CPL-U SPORTS Drafts

The CPL-U SPORTS Draft takes place tomorrow, so here’s a look back at five former League1 Canada players who progressed through the draft in the last five years and gone on to make a name for themselves in the Canadian Premier League.

Anthony White

Anthony White was the first selection in the 2023 draft, earning him a professional contract with Vancouver FC. The defender played in League1 British Columbia for TSS Rovers and helped them secure the league’s inaugural title and a Canadian Championship berth. His Canadian Premier League debut came in a substitute appearance against York United, and after an adjustment period to life in the professional game, strong performances led to 16 consecutive starts for the club.

Ameer Kinani

Vancouver FC also secured the signature of Ameer Kinani as the second pick in the 2023 draft. The forward spent the 2022 season with ProStars in League1 Ontario, scoring 17 goals in 20 games to fire his side into the postseason. His first goal for Vancouver came in June 2023 in a 2-0 win against eventual champions Forge, in addition to registering an assist for TJ Tahid, and he made a further 17 appearances.

Guillaume Pianelli

French-born defender Guillaume Pianelli played in Ligue1 Quebéc for Celtix du Haut-Richelieu across several seasons, and featured against CF Montréal in an exhibition match for the league’s All-Star team. In the 2023 draft he was the fifth overall pick and moved to Valour FC. His debut for his new club came in April as he made a substitute appearance in the Canadian Championship, and he ran out in the CPL 17 times.

Gabriel Bitar

Cavalry FC selected Gabriel Bitar as the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft. He then returned to former club Ottawa United South in L1QC and had a spell in the Lebanese Premier League, before he went back to the CPL with FC Edmonton and scored five goals in 21 games. Earlier this year he signed with Vancouver FC and has scored six goals, including a brace in their 3-2 win against Pacific FC, in 25 matches.

Isaiah Johnston

Isaiah Johnston made more than 20 appearances for Woodbridge Strikers between 2017 and 2019 in L1ON. His performances caught the eye of York United and they chose him as the tenth selection in the 2019 draft. The midfielder from Mississauga stayed with the club and became a key player in 2021 and 2022, before being just as influential at MLS NEXT Pro side Huntsville City – a feeder team to Nashville.

Watch tomorrow’s draft at 1PM ET / 10AM PT live on the OneSoccer and CBC Sports YouTube channels.