March 4th, 2024

CPL’s York United, Atletico Ottawa bolster rosters by signing Canadian internationals

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on January 30, 2024.

Cayman Islands goalkeeper Albertini Holness (1) reaches out for a rebound as Mason Duval (11) defends against Canada's Frank Sturing during the first half of a World Cup 2022 soccer match Monday, March 29, 2021, in Bradenton, Fla. CPL sides York United FC and Atletico Ottawa have bolstered their roster by signing Canadian internationals Sturing and Kris Twardek, respectively. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mike Carlson

Canadian Premier League sides York United FC and Atletico Ottawa have bolstered their rosters by signing Canadian internationals Frank Sturing and Kris Twardek, respectively.

Sturing, a 26-year-old centre back, joins York from SV Horn of the Austrian second tier. The Dutch-born defender has won two caps for Canada, qualifying through his Calgary-born father. Sturing’s Dutch grandparents moved to Canada but returned home when his father was four or five.

Twardek, a 26-year-old winger, was with Ireland’s Bohemians FC most recently. Named Canada Soccer U-20 Player of the Year in 2017, he has one senior cap – coming off the bench in a 1-0 loss to El Salvador in October 2017.

In other CPL news, Pacific FC picked up the 2024 option on Dutch-born forward Ayman Sellouf. One of 10 finalists for the CPL’s Players’ Player of the Year Award, Sellouf scored seven goals and added eight assists last season.

Sturing, who spent some time as a defensive midfielder as a youth, is right-footed but can play left centre back.

“He’s a strong presence at the back but as much as being a combative, aggressive and intelligent defender, he’s also extremely comfortable on the ball,” York coach Martin Nash said in a statement. “He can pick a pass and open up the game. He brings plenty of experience and he’s got that drive and ambition that you want in any squad.

“There’s some excellent pedigree in our backline now and Frank can be a real anchor. An astute player and one that we’re very excited about.”

Sturing represented the Netherlands at the U-18, U-19, U-20 and U-21 levels before switching allegiance.

John Herdman, then national team coach, invited Sturing to a Canada camp in January 2021. He made his Canada debut that March in a World Cup qualifier against the Cayman Islands, starting again in June against Aruba in another qualifier.

Sturing came up through the NEC academy ranks in his hometown of Nijmegen, eventually making it to the first team. He played in both the Dutch first and second divisions before moving to second-tier Den Bosch in 2020 and Austria’s SV Horn in 2021.

In joining Ottawa, Twardek is coming home. He is from Kinburn, some 40 kilometres west of the capital.

“I always wanted to come home and play in front of my mum, dad, siblings and friends that I grew up with,” he said. “It doesn’t get better than that really.”

He has signed a two-year contract with an option to extend into 2026.

A right-footed winger, Twardek represented the Czech Republic – where his father was born – at youth level before switching allegiance and debuting for Canada’s under-20 side as a 19-year-old.

At club level, he came through the academy of English Championship side Millwall. After loan spells at England’s Braintree Town and Carlisle United, he played in Ireland for Sligo Rovers and Bohemians FC before joining Poland’s Jagiellonia Bialystok and Slovakia’s FK Senica.

He returned to Ireland with Bohemians in January 2022.

“Kris embodies the essence of a powerful athlete, entering the league in his prime and poised to make a significant impact on the field,” said Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez. “Off the field, Kris has a deep-rooted connection to the local community and has a strong family focus.

The 22-year-old Sellouf made 33 appearances for Pacific last season and was named CPL Player of the Month in June.

Sellouf began his career playing for his hometown NEC Nijmegen before joining FC Utrecht and Jong Utrecht. Born to Moroccan parents, he has trained with Morocco’s under-18 team.

“Ayman is the most exciting player in the CPL and someone with a huge potential,” said Jamar Dixon, Pacific’s manager of football, Pacific FC. “His one-on-one dribbling and ability to create space is among the best in the league and he has an incredibly high ceiling.”

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2024.

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