Canadians Abroad Recap: 2011-12 season in review

Olivier Occean and his club had a breakout campaign, but he wasn't the only one who saw club success this season.
Olivier Occean, SpVgg Greuther Fürth (19 goals, 38 games)

It's possibly the rarest statistic you'll see: a Canadian atop a big European league's scoring charts.

That's exactly what happened this year, as Olivier Occean finished the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga campaign with 17 goals, good enough for a three-way tie for the league's goalscoring race. Occean chipped in another couple of goals in cup play to give him 19 in all competitions, a fantastic haul for a striker who has been able to score wherever he's played.

The Brossard, Quebec native's goal tally helped Greuther Fürth to the championship in the German second division, but more importantly the club promoted to the top flight for the first time in its history.

Next season, both Fürth and Occean will be tasting Bundesliga action for the first time, and it will be interesting to watch as both club and player look to replicate the dream campaign at the highest level.

Milan Borjan, FC Vaslui (19 starts, 7 clean sheets)

The old adage that sometimes a change of scenery can rejuvenate a player's career applies to no one more than Milan Borjan this year.

After a tumultuous start to 2011/12 in which the goalkeeper arrived at Turkish club Sivasspor amid big fanfare, only to fall out of favor a few short months later, Borjan got himself loaned out to Romanian team FC Vaslui. It was at Vaslui where the 24-year-old shined, as he immediately stepped in and took over the starting role en route to the club finishing second in the league.

Borjan's 16 league matches featured 12 victories, including an astonishing nine-game win streak to end the season. That incredible run allowed Vaslui to move up from also-rans to UEFA Champions League participants, and no doubt Borjan will be seeking to make his move to Romania a permanent one.

David "Junior" Hoilett, Blackburn Rovers (7 goals, 37 games)

Although it was a forgettable season for Blackburn Rovers, Ontario-born starlet Junior Hoillet continued his personal ascent as one of the Premier League's most exciting young attackers.

The 21-year-old winger started all 34 of the EPL games in which he featured, knocking in seven goals along the way. His torrid pace and tricky feet were the bane of the opposition defenders, and most of Blackburn's offense went through Hoilett before finding big striker Yakubu.

Unfortunately for the club, Blackburn was relegated to the Championship after a terrible second half to the season, but Hoilett has already drawn interest from many top flight sides, meaning it's highly likely that we'll see him staying in one of Europe's bigger leagues in the fall.

Simeon Jackson, Norwich City (5 goals, 26 games)

Simeon Jackson's first season in the English Premier League was the textbook definition of a "roller coaster campaign" at the individual level, as the 25-year-old native of Mississauga, Ontario was shuffled in and out of the lineup on a weekly basis.

Jackson did fairly well with the time he was given, scoring three league goals in 941 minutes of action for the Canaries, most of which were as a late substitute or in a supporting role for Grant Holt. He potted another couple in cup competition, giving him a total of five on the year.

With Norwich securely in the mid-table last season, Jackson will probably have another chance to prove himself at the top level in England when the new campaign kicks off.

David Edgar, Burnley (2 goals, 49 games)

It took him a while, but David Edgar finally secured himself a regular gig.

The big defender drifted from team to team looking for playing time after impressing as a teenager with Newcastle United. This season was Edgar's breakout in terms of cementing a starting spot, with the 25-year-old makes 44 starts for Burnley in the Championship.

Marcus Haber, St. Johnstone (2 goals, 34 games)

Marcus Haber saw increased playing time this season for St. Johnstone of the SPL, but he still only started less than half of his 31 league appearances for the club.

The 23-year-old attacker will need to produce more if he wants a bigger role with the Saints next year.

Marcel de Jong, FC Augsburg (1 goal, 14 games)

When healthy, 25-year-old Marcel de Jong was the starting left back for Bundesliga newcomers FC Augsburg this season. The problem is that de Jong has been anything but healthy in 2011/12, suffering a litany of injuries that have kept him from the majority of the campaign.

Augsburg managed to evade relegation, so de Jong's spot in the lineup should be up for grabs when he finally returns.

Kevin McKenna, 1. FC Köln (1 goal, 25 games)

This will be a forgettable campaign for Kevin McKenna, who managed 25 league matches for 1. FC Köln in the Bundesliga.

McKenna came off the bench 11 times in the league campaign as Köln rode a massive late-season winless streak straight to relegation.

Rob Friend, Eintracht Frankfurt (1 goal, 14 games)

Like McKenna, lanky striker Rob Friend will be looking to forget this past season, as the 6-foot-5 attacker featured in only 196 minutes for 2. Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt, and looks highly unlikely to follow that club up to the German top flight.

Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Eintracht Braunschweig (0 goals, 8 games)

After dominating the Finnish second division in 2011, young striker Randy Edwini-Bonsu joined German second tier club Eintracht Braunschweig in January of this year.

The 22-year-old spent the better part of a half-season establishing himself at his new side, and only managed two starts. He'll look to become an integral part of the Braunschweig lineup in the coming year.

Atiba Hutchinson, PSV Eindhoven (0 goals, 17 games)

Atiba Hutchinson fought back from a long injury spell to reclaim his starting spot at PSV Eindhoven, although he spend the majority of his time at an unfamiliar right back role with the Eredivisie giant.

Hutchinson's Dutch dreams were realized when PSV lifted the KNVB Cup, although the club narrowly missed out on Champions League participation after a third place finish in the league.

Mike Klukowski, Manisaspor (0 goals, 26 games)

Perhaps no one had a rougher year at the club level than Mike Klukowski.

The left back joined Turkish SuperLiga side Manisaspor at the start of the campaign, and while he immediately took over the starting role on the left side of the Manisaspor defense, Klukowski was helpless to stop a terrible season in which the club was relegated.

Issey Nakajima-Farran, Brisbane Roar (4 goals, 23 games)

28-year-old midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran was another Canadian who experienced up-and-downs in with his club this past season.

He joined Aussie side Brisbane Roar and was thrusted directly into the staring lineup, but poor form saw Nakajima-Farran lose that spot fairly quickly. He still managed to make a decent contribution - four goals from a wide position - but he was nowhere to be seen in Brisbane's A-League championship run or the club's Asian Champions League fixtures.

Joseph Di Chiara, PFK Krylya Sovetov Samara (0 goals, 5 games)

20-year-old defensive midfielder Joseph Di Chiara managed to get himself some playing time in the Russian Premier League, seeing 267 minutes of spot duty for PFK Krylya Sovetov Samara and earning himself a look at a Canadian national team camp.

The youngster will look to increase his playing time in 2012/13 as he continues to blaze a trail in a league that is not known for developing Canadian players.