Starting this weekend, the Canadian Premier League or simply, the CPL will be back in action.

Formed in 2019, the CPL is Canada’s top professional soccer league. From Langford British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the CPL’s eight teams stretch the league from Coast to Coast. From April to November, the teams will be battling out for Canadian soccer supremacy.

The league is still growing and despite some struggles, it is slowly building a following. Perhaps you want to start following the CPL too? I’ll admit, I have watched a bit of CPL here and there over the past few years. But this year, I want to get into a bit more. I mean a lot more, so expect a few CPL articles on this website.

On Saturday April 13, get ready to rumble as Atletico Ottawa host York United in the CPL’s home opener.

Whether you are a casual fan, a new fan or even a diehard that is excited for CPL season to begin, here are four reasons why you should watch the CPL.

Before we begin, I want to shoutout Felipe Vallejo. He writes for AFTN and Northern Tribune and is a contributor to the AFTN Soccer Show and hosts his own podcast called Coast To Coast. Felipe knows the CPL way better than I do. You should follow his work and him on Twitter if you haven’t already. He was a big help for this article.

#1: The kits

If you look good, you feel good, and you’ll play good. Well, the last part might not always be true. However, it is hard to find a bad kit in the CPL because each team knocked it out the park. The teams didn’t just hit home runs, they hit grand slams.

It is hard to pick a favourite. Vancouver FC’s cherry blossom kit is absolutely gorgeous and represents the Lower Mainland and the proceeds go to Pink Shirt Day campagin against bullying. Pacific FC’s secondary kit was designed by Maynard Johnny Jr, a Coast Salish Artist and this kit is called the “Resilience Kit.” It is fitting that it has Salmon on it as Salmon use resilience to avoid predators and other natural factors as they swim upstream to the place where they were born.

Speaking of Indigenous Art, Valour took that concept and ran with it on their away kit. Their kit has a sunflower, called zinda’aagan by the Anishinaabe People. According to Valour’s shop, the sunflower is still being used today as food, medicine and a snack by the elders, teachers and farmers. The four corners of the jersey has the prarie cocus flower. The Indigenous nations of Manitoba value it not only for its beauty but for it’s medical properties and the teachings of the earth.

It is also worth noting that Cavalry released their “Blizzard Camoflauge” kit as their third jersey on Tuesday. It is inspired by the heavy snowfall and frozen pitch that occurred during their inaugural match on May 4, 2019. Cavalry didn’t miss with this, despite being inspired by the cold, it looks absolutely fire.

#2: #BangersOnly

One of, if not, the best thing about soccer is the great goals. The goals that are jaw dropping and make you jump out of your seat and rewatch a hundred times. Those are the bangers or the golazos.

The CPL has been known for bangers and the #BangersOnly hashtag has been prominent on CPL and Canadian soccer Twitter.

Take a look at the winning goal from last season’s CPL Final. Forge’s Kyle Bekker scored an absolute stunner.

Mo Babouli’s free kick from last season for York United was also quite impressive.

Theo Collomb formerly of the Halifax Wanderers (now a free agent) scored a stunning volley below but was more stunning was the pass from Dan Nimic.

The CPL is a league for bangers and I’m sure we will see more this upcoming season.

#3: Development of young talent

The CPL is also a league that develops young Canadian talent. There are numerous players who played in the CPL and moved onto MLS.

Current Nashville SC defender Lukas MacNaughton played for Pacific FC in 2019 to 2021. Canadian born Algerian international Mohamed Farsi played 35 games for Cavalry from 2020 to 2021 and is now with the Columbus Crew and won the MLS Cup with them in 2023. Current CF Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois was named 2021 CPL Goalkeeper of the year as he was on loan from Valour.

Some CPL alumni even went onto play in Europe. Marco Bustos currently plays for IFK Värnamo in Sweden’s Allsvenskan. But he played in the CPL for Valour and Pacific from 2019 to 2022 scoring 21 goals during his time in the league. In 2021, he became the league’s all time leading scorer but has since been surpassed and that is currently being held by Forge’s Terran Campbell who has 39.

There is also Victor Loturi who currently plays for Ross County of the Scottish Premiership and made his debut for Canada during the 2023 CONCACAF Nations League. He played two stints with Cavalry. The first in 2019 and the second in 2021 and 2022.

Today, the CPL still has quite a bit of budding young talent who seem destined for bigger things. TJ Tahid and James Cameron (not the Titanic and Avatar director) of Vancouver FC first come to mind. Tahid is only 16 and is the youngest player to score and feature in a CPL game last season. He trained with Feyenoord of the Dutch Eredivisie in the offseason. 18-year-old Cameron came out of nowhere and was shifted from striker to wingback due to Vancouver’s numerous injuries. Cameron quickly became a starter and was nominated for Under 21 Player of the Year.

22-year-old Matteo de Brienne was a bright spot in a Valour team that finished last place in 2023. The left-back was named the CPL’s Under 21 Player of the Year and got himself a big money move to Atletico Ottawa, his hometown club.

17-year-old Kevaugn Tavernier is also a name to watch as he scored his first goal for Forge against Chivas in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. He has impressed with Canada’s under 17s and under 20s and is currently being scouted by Ligue 1’s AS Monaco. Perhaps his time in the CPL will be short and for good reasons.

#4: Plenty of storylines

There are lot of storylines heading into the sixth CPL season. We unfortunately don’t have time to go through them all but here are the highlights.

For starters, Vancouver FC are going to look at having a strong second season and they overhauled their squad which included bringing in Elage Bah, Vasco Fry and Matteo Campagna. The three of them are former Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 players.

Atletico Ottawa look like contenders. As mentioned above they brought in de Brienne and also signed POTY finalist & midfielder Manny Aparicio, formerly of Pacific. Amer Didic is one of the CPL’s best defenders and Rayane Yesli is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. They were both acquired in the offseason from Pacific and Valour. Ottawa were like Thanos collecting Infinity Stones in the offseason. But are they inevitable?

It will also be interesting to see how York United does in their first season under the Pasquel Brothers, their new owners. They have already signed defenders Oswaldo Leon and Orlando Botello and midfielder Josue Martinez so the Mexican connections have already been put to use.

Valour is going through a rebuild after their poor 2023 season. They acquired former Vancouver FC striker Shaan Hundal and former York United defender Tass Mourdoukoutas in the offseason but the experts aren’t high on them. To make things worse, their home ground Princess Auto Stadium (formerly IG Field) is going through renovations to replace the turf and Valour won’t play their first home match until June 2.

Well, this is mostly what I know (plus some help from Felipe) about the CPL and hope to learn more about it this season. Felipe also gave his insights on the upcoming CPL season on the latest AFTN Soccer Show where he, Michael McColl and Zachary Meisenheimer preview the season and all the eight teams. So listen to that if you want to learn more about the CPL.

There is also Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic and Josh Deming previewing the CPL for One Soccer so you can also watch that.