The 2023 CPL Coach Of The Year Nominees
Excerpts of the following story are sourced from “Here’s The 2023 CPL Coach Of The Year Nominees” by John Jacques in the Northern Tribune from October 15, 2023 https://northerntribune.ca/canadian-premier-league-2023-coach-of-the-year-nominations/ and the CANPL website https://canpl.ca/article/gheisar-smyrniotis-wheeldon-jr-nominated-for-coach-of-the-year.
The Canadian Premier League announced on Monday the nominees for the Coach of the Year award, honouring best coach in the league during the 2023 regular season.
Halifax Wanderers FC’s Patrice Gheisar, Forge FC’s Bobby Smyrniotis and Cavalry FC’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr. make up the three-man ballot. The winner will be decided through voting by CPL club technical leadership and selected media members representing local and national outlets who consistently covered the 2023 CPL regular season. The winner will be revealed at an in-person ceremony in Hamilton, Ont. on Thursday, Oct. 26 as part of the festivities surrounding CPL Final weekend.
In his first year as a professional coach, Patrice Gheisar has delivered on his promise to transform the Halifax Wanderers into a united squad with a refined and entertaining playstyle, bringing the east coast its first home playoff match in club history. The club’s 42 point-tally under Gheisar’s first season was also a club record, which is remarkable given that it took some time to really get cooking in the Atlantic.
Gheisar, 48, guided the Halifax Wanderers to several franchise records in his first season in charge of the club, including setting new marks for wins, points, goals scored, goal differential, goals conceded and total passes. The second head coach in club history, who joined the Wanderers following a storied career in League1 Ontario with Vaughan Azzurri, Gheisar led Halifax to unprecedented success after totally rebuilding the squad by bringing in 17 new players ahead of the 2023 season. Halifax’s third place finish in the regular season standings, which was decided by a fourth tiebreaker after the Wanderers finished level with Forge, earned the club its first home playoff game. Gheisar was named CPL Manager of the Month once in 2023, honoured for his work in the month of June.
Forge is heading for its fifth straight CPL Final, so it’s no surprise to see that Bobby Smyrniotis has been handed his fifth straight coach of the year nomination, too. Having been perennially snubbed at the award ceremony, will 2023 finally see him get a soapstone carving of his own?
Smyrniotis, 44 leading the three-time CPL champions Forge to its second consecutive second-place finish in the regular season, having never finished lower than this in all CPL regular seasons. Forge got off to its best start of any season in club history when the side went undefeated in its first seven games, which earned Smyrniotis CPL Manager of the Month honours for April. It was one of two seven-game unbeaten runs Forge put together over the 2023 season, the other coming between Aug. 12 and Sept. 23. The club was particularly successful on the road this season, leading the league for most away wins with seven, tied with York United, and conceding the fewest away goals of any club at just 14.
When you look at the regular season, one only needs to see the above picture to tell you which head coach saw the most success. Tommy Wheeldon Jr. guided Cavalry to absolute league domination: after opening with five straight draws, he and the club found a new gear to eventually finish thirteen points clear at the top with a nine-match unbeaten run, eight of which came as wins.
Wheeldon Jr., 44, steered Cavalry to one of the most dominant seasons in CPL history. The regular season winners finished the campaign with 55 points, the most points accumulated by any team over a 28-game season and 13 points more than any other team in 2023. Cavalry’s 16 wins ties Forge’s 2021 team for the most by any club during a 28-game season, and the team’s five losses tied Atlético Ottawa’s 2022 side for the fewest defeats by any club over a 28-game season. Cavalry led the league with 46 goals and conceded a league-low 27 goals. Cavalry went undefeated from Aug. 20 through the last nine games of the season, earning Wheeldon back-to-back CPL Manager of the Month honours in August and September.
The 2023 CPL Awards will take place in CPL Final host city Hamilton, Ontario on October 26. The exciting build-up to the league final will see all of the awards handed out, including the golden boot (which finished as a tie for Ollie Bassett and Myer Bevan, each on eleven goals), the best Canadian U-21 player, the player of the year award, the golden glove, defender of the year, and the aforementioned coach of the year award.