Golden Boot winner Myer Bevan steps away indefinitely from Cavalry

The star striker, who is under contract with the club, has opted to remain home in New Zealand, citing personal reasons for an indefinite leave of absence.

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Cavalry FC will be without Myer Bevan to start the 2024 Canadian Premier League season …

And beyond.

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The star striker, who is under contract with the club, has opted to remain home in New Zealand, citing personal reasons for an indefinite leave of absence.

“He’s returned back to New Zealand following our Concacaf fixtures and has not reported back to join the team since,” said Cavalry GM/head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

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“What we know is there’s personal reasons for his decision to remain in New Zealand,” continued Wheeldon. “So beyond that, we’re trying to figure everything else out. He’s still a contracted Cavalry FC player, but we’re placing him on the inactive roster for now.”

Sources say his decision is based on family matters.

“There’s no rift between us,” said the gaffer. “I can’t really go into his reasons yet, because we don’t fully understand them all. I can say it is that it’s personal reasons why he’s chosen not to return with the club. I think once we understand what the full ramifications are, we can then make a further announcement.”

After becoming the CPL’s co-Golden Boot award winner with a league-high 11 goals last season, forward Bevan did sign a two-year contract extension — with a one-year option — with the Cavs in the lead-up to the upcoming CPL campaign.

The talented Kiwi was in training with Cavalry ahead of the club’s two-game Concacaf Champions Cup debut in late February, during which he scored the Calgary squad’s only goal in 3-0 and 3-1 losses to Orlando City SC.

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Bevan, 26, has a young family — his life partner, a three-year-old daughter and a newborn daughter — back home in New Zealand. And sources say there are no health implications on that front.

“I’m sure there’s a good reason for where we’re at,” Wheeldon said. “But it’s personal.

“He is a really good player for us, and he’s a really good person and terrific around the locker room.”

Open communication between Bevan and team

Wheeldon says there has been open communication between the club and Bevan, who informed Cavalry post-Concacaf play that he would not be returning for the team’s training in Mexico or Calgary in preparation for CPL and Canadian Championship action in 2024.

The Cavs open the CPL schedule in Hamilton, Ont., against host Forge FC on Saturday, April 13.

They then return to ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows for the first time in 2024 to host Vancouver FC in the preliminary round of the Telus Canadian Championship on Tuesday, April 23.

The team closes out a busy month of April when it hosts its CPL home opener on Sunday, April 28, welcoming Pacific FC to ATCO Field.

“It’s important that we just approach the season with the players we do have,” said Wheeldon, who announced Thursday the signing of veteran CPL forward Malcolm Shaw after the previous off-season additions of Lleyton Brooks, Lucas Dias, Diego Gutiérrez and Toby Warschewski to the club’s attack corps. “We’ve seen in the pre-season what Toby has brought to the table. We’ve seen what Lucas Dias, Diego Gutierrez and — now — Malcolm Shaw can do.”

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What Bevan did last year was score 12 goals in 30 total appearances with the club, including one in the Cavs’ only Canadian Championship contest.

“What we’ve got to do is replace those numbers,” Wheeldon said. “And I think we can do that either — directly — with certain players or — indirectly — with a committee of players. But we’re confident.”

The Bevan situation seems similar to what transpired last summer — mid-season — when veteran midfielder Jose Escalante left Cavalry and returned home to Honduras to be closer to his young family.

The Cavs did punch through that loss to claim the CPL’s regular-season crown.

“When Jose Escalante left, we went on to win the league,” added Wheeldon. “Goteh Ntignee left, and we went on to win the league last year. And (we traded) Miki Cantave (last year) … the list goes on.

“We’ve always got that focus of ‘next man up’. We know that there’s players that we love working with — the Aribim Pepples, the Victor Loturis, the Mo Farsis — that we would love still playing in their Cavalry FC jerseys. But what we want is for them to leave in a better place and have the ‘next man’ show up.

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“Fans loved Nico Pasquotti before his injury (in 2020), Nik Ledgerwood hung up the boots. Oliver Minatel, the Brazilian Ghost (who got hurt), was a bit of a cult hero. Elijah Adekugbe, as a local product, moved on. Players move on.

“But then you bring in new blood that warms the hearts of the fans and count points on the pitch for the team.”

Free kicks

Snow has forced Saturday’s 2024 Kickoff Celebration presented by Rümi — an exhibition match between Cavalry and Calgary Foothills FC — to move inside to the Calgary West Soccer Centre (3 p.m.). After originally being scheduled for play at Shouldice Park, attendance is now restricted due to the limited capacity of the indoor venue … A pre-season game then follows at the centre between the Cavalry FC U21 side and fellow Calgary side, 1UP Soccer … The only significant injury for Cavalry ahead of next week’s season opener in Hamilton is the one sidelining midfielder Maël Henry (hamstring).

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