Chris Nanco (Syracuse/ Sigma FC)
The future already looks bright for the next wave of League1 grads.
Three players - Chris Nanco (Sigma FC), Kwame Awuah (Sigma FC) and Adonijah Reid (ANB Futbol) - have been invited to participate in Major League Soccer's annual pre-draft Combine event in Los Angeles, California.
A fourth player, Alex Halis (Sigma FC), is not participating in the Combine event but, along with the other three players, is hoping to hear his name called at the 2017 MLS SuperDraft this weekend.
Kwame Awuah (UCONN/ Sigma FC)
The three Sigma products - Nanco, Awuah and Halis - all come from highly rated NCAA programs at Syracuse, UCONN and Grand Canyon respectively, and have made their mark in four years of play.
A team co-captain, Awuah alternated between fullback and midfield in his time at UCONN and was also named to 2016 NSCAA NCAA Division I Men's All-East Region Third Team, as well as the American Athletic Conference First Team All-Conference.
Forward Chris Nanco wrapped up his final year at Syracuse by winning the Orangeman's Golden Boot (7 goals), and was named to the 2016 NSCAA NCAA Division I Men's All-South Region Third Team. Nanco was also named to the All-ACC Conference First Team.
Halis had a strong season for Grand Canyon University, playing in all 19 matches, starting 18.
He led the team with six assists, scored three goals, and finished the season on 12 points - second highest in the team.
Alex Halis (Grand Canyon University/ Sigma FC)
Reid is the third League1 player in as many seasons to be selected for a prestigious Generation Adidas contract, in this case becoming one of the first ever to sign under the new Generation Adidas Canada program.
With this special designation, Reid's salary will not count against an MLS team's salary cap and, thanks to a new arrangement negotiated between Canada Soccer and MLS, he will be deemed a "domestic" player even if selected by a US based squad.
Just 17 years old, Reid was a goalscoring machine for ANB Futbol in 2015. He was co-winner of the League1 Ontario Golden Boot award that season, as well being honoured with the Young Player Of The Year award, given to the league's top playear under the age of 20 year old.
Pre-draft reports suggest that there is a strong chance one or more of the trio will be selected in the first round of the draft, with Reid in particular having a strong performance on the first day of the 2017 Combine.
Commenting on the official MLS broadcast of the Combine event, legendary MLS coach Sigi Schmidt said "Reid is the most intriguing player in the Combine so far. He has huge up-side, especially for his age," after watching the player's performance in his first match on Sunday evening.
Adonijah Reid (Generation Adidas Canada/ ANB Futbol)
On the women's side, two League1 goalkeepers and a midfielder are in the list of eligible draftees for the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) draft on Thursday night: Vaughan's Stephanie Bukovec (the 2016 League1 Women's Goalkeepr Of The Year); Woodbridge's Hope Sabadash, who was selected to the All-American Second Team in 2015, and named as one of the 36 players in the 2016 NCAA season to watch for the Mac Hermann Award, and finally 2015 Sanjaxx Lions' midfielder Jordyn Listro from University of South Florida.
However, in the NWSL the situation for Canadian players looking to get drafted or signed is more complicated, in part because no Canadian teams exist in the league to provide domestic status to Canadian players.
Unlike a recent change made in the MLS, where Canadian players (with some terms and conditions) are now considered domestics, Canadian players in the women's division would still have to occupy one of few foreign player designations.
Stephanie Bukovec (Belmont University/ Vaughan Azzurri) (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
"We are excited for what the future has in store for our league and players," said League1 Ontario commissioner, Dino Rossi Jr.. "We are working hard to develop pathways to help match our top women with pro clubs around the world.
"We also hope that, in due time, there will be fully professional clubs here in Canada for our talented women to aspire to."
"There is also a great deal of anticipation around the expected launch of a domestic professional league for men that will inevitably be a landing spot for a good number of League1 Ontario stars," he concluded.
"Combined with the growth of MLS and USL, the future looks bright for our league's best and brightest to see their professional football ambitions become reality."
Hope Sabadash (Southeastern University/ Woodbridge Strikers)
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