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Former Steel FC winger Chris Nanco among first signings for Canadian Premier League

Nanco had nine goals in 57 appearances for the Steel the past two seasons

Pat Jacoby Photography

Chris Nanco is going from the Steel to the Forge as one of the first signings of the new Canadian Premier League announced last week.

Nanco, a 23-year-old from the Toronto area who was drafted by the Philadelphia Union out of Syracuse in 2016 is heading back north of the border to join the Hamilton, Ontario-based Forge FC. Former MLS and USL midfielder Kyle Bekker, who also played in the ACC with Boston College, is joining Nanco at the club.

Nanco had some bright moments in his two seasons with Steel FC, scoring nine goals in 57 appearances over the past two seasons but minutes weren’t always easy to come with players coming down on loan from the first team and younger players like Michee Ngalina finding success.

During an interview after training in early September, the former Canadian youth international was asked about the new league.

“It’s definitely a good thing,” Nanco said. “I wish it was there when I was younger. It gives young players that dream to become a professional player, it motivates them to look at it and have a team near their hometown and say ‘one day I can be there.’”

With the Steel squad skewing even younger after new sporting director Ernst Tanner’s arrival late in the season, it became apparent that Nanco might not be back with the organization for a third year. His leadership to younger players and impact off the bench still proved an asset to the team during their playoff run and will be an experience he can build on in his new home.

“When I was coming out of college I didn’t think I would be the one taking on a leadership role this early in my career, but being on a young team like this it helps me develop and helps them develop as well,” Nanco said at the time. “I just help them raise their game to the next level and push them to become better because if I push them to become better they’re playing better in training and that helps me in the long run.”

Nanco is one of nine players from the 2018 Steel team that will not be returning in 2019. Santi Moar also had his contract expire and Brandon Aubrey, AJ Paterson, Mike Catalano, Omar Holness and Aidan Apodaca all had options declined.

The group of first Canadian Premier League signings announced on Thursday included Nanco’s former college teammate Sergio Camargo to Cavalry FC along with Nik Ledgerwood and Reading United alum Skylar Thomas to Valour FC. Other signings included Kadin Chung (Pacific FC), Zachary Sukunda (HFX Wanderers FC), Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Allen Zebie (FC Edmonton) and Kyle Porter (York 9 FC).

For more on the new league, check out the coverage from our SB Nation friends at Waking the Red.