TORONTO — FC Edmonton took UBC midfielder Thomas Gardner first overall in Friday's CPL-U Sports draft, one of four Thunderbirds selected in the two-round draft.
Concordia had three players chosen while two each came from the University of Montreal, Mount Royal University and Ontario Tech University.
The 16 players selected will attend pre-season training with the hope of securing a contract. They are eligible for a developmental deal that allows a player to sign with a CPL club while preserving any remaining U Sports eligibility.
The 22-year-old Gardiner was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 draft and 12th overall in 2019, both times by Pacific FC. A native of North Vancouver, Gardner joined the Whitecaps FC residency program in 2011, signing his first pro contract with the USL's Whitecaps FC 2 in 2015.
FC Edmonton coach Alan Koch, then with the Whitecaps organization, gave Gardner his pro debut in the USL Championship. Gardiner made one appearance for the MLS Whitecaps in a pre-season game against the Portland Timbers in February 2016.
"Tommy is a creative player who we know can play and contribute in the CPL,” Koch said in a statement. “Injury and COVID prevented him from playing in the league previously, and we are excited to welcome him to FC Edmonton."
Atletico Ottawa used the second pick on Carleton defender Chris Malekos. Winnipeg's Valour FC then took six-foot-seven goalkeeper Yuba-Rayene Yesli from the Montreal Carabins.
The 21-year-old 'keeper, a CF Montreal youth product, spent time with Vibonese Calcio in Italy's Serie D, helping them earn promotion to Serie C.
"You can't coach size," said Valour coach Rob Gale.
York United FC took 19-year-old midfielder Christopher Campoli from Ontario Tech University before Pacific FC chose UBC defender Chris Lee.
Calgary's Cavalry FC used the sixth pick on midfielder Victor Loturi from Mount Royal University. Loturi spent time with Calvary in 2019.
Carleton forward Stefan Karajovanovic went seventh to HFX Wanderers FC before Concordia defender Garven-Michee Metusala was taken by CPL champion Forge FC to complete the first round.
York took Karajovanovic fifth overall in the 2019 draft.
Valour FC used the 14th overall pick on Carleton defender Tony Mikhael, who has been called up by Lebanon's under-22 team.
York University defender Reggie Laryea, younger brother of Toronto FC fullback-midfielder Richie Laryea, went 15th overall to Atletico Ottawa. Reggie Laryea has also spent time with the University of Akron and League 1 Ontario's Sigma FC.
UBC defender Jackson Farmer was taken 16th overall by FC Edmonton. The 25-year-old Edmonton native has won one cap for Canada at the senior level and was a youth international at the U-15, U-18 and U-20 level.
The six-foot-two centre back also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Charleston Battery and Calgary Foothills.
The league says 17 U-Sports draft choices have made CPL rosters since the first draft in 2018. Cory Bent, taken first overall in the last U Sports draft (2019), played 10 games for HFX Wanderers last season.
1. FC Edmonton, Thomas Gardner, midfielder, UBC; 2. Atletico Ottawa, Christopher Malekos, defender, Carleton University; 2. Valour FC, Yuba-Rayene Yesli, goalkeeper, University of Montreal; 4. York United FC, Christopher Campoli, midfielder, Ontario Tech University; 5. Pacific FC, Chris Lee, defender, UBC; 6. Cavalry FC, Victor Loturi, midfielder, Mount Royal University; 7. HFX Wanderers FC, Stefan Karajovanovic, forward, Carleton University; 8. Forge FC, Garven-Michee Metusala, defender, Concordia University.
9. Forge FC, Jose da Cunha, defender, Cape Breton University; 10. HFX Wanderers, Kareem Sow, defender, University of Montreal; 11. Cavalry FC, Ethan Keen, defender, Mount Royal University; 12. Pacific FC, Victory Shumbusho, forward, UBC; 13. York United FC, Danial Rafisamii, midfielder, Ontario Tech University; 14. Valour FC, Tony Mikhael, defender, Carleton University; 15. Atletico Ottawa, Reggie Laryea, defender, York University; 16. FC Edmonton, Jackson Farmer, defender, UBC.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press