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TORONTO – Atletico Ottawa’s Carlos Gonzalez, Pacific FC’s James Merriman and Forge FC’s Bobby Smyrniotis are the finalists for Canadian Premier League coach of the year.

Voting involved the head coach and one assistant from each CPL club, marking the first year that the league’s coaching award will be decided by peers. Coaches could not vote for themselves and assistant coaches could not vote for their boss.

The winner will be revealed at the league’s awards ceremony Oct. 29-30, the weekend of the championship game.

Gonzalez, 36, led Ottawa from worst to first in his year at the helm, with the club finishing atop the regular-season standings at 13-5-10. It finished last the previous season, with 23 fewer points at 6-14-8.

Merriman, 37, made the jump from assistant to head coach after Pa-Modou Kah, last year’s CPL coach of the year, left in January. Despite losing several key players from its 2021 championship team, Pacific finished fourth under Merriman at 13-8-7.

Smyrniotis, 43, earns his fourth Coach of the Year nomination in as many seasons after Forge finished second in the regular-season standings at 14-9-5. The Hamilton club Forge led the league with 47 goals and conceded a league-low 25.

Forge’s win total this season tied Cavalry FC for the most this season.

Cavalry’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr. won the coaching award in 2019, followed by HFX Wanderers’ Stephen Hart in 2020.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2022

Atletico Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez gets the Gatorade shower from his players after the team’s 2-2 draw, with visiting York United FC in the Canadian Premier League regular-season finale at TD Place in Ottawa on Sunday Oct. 9, 2022. Gonzalez, who led Ottawa from worst to first in the eight-team league in his first season at the helm, is one of three finalists for CPL coach of the year.

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