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Is TFC’s Failure bad for Canada?

tfc bus 300x200 Is TFCs Failure bad for Canada?

Duane Rollins whose work I respect a great deal has stated that Toronto FC’s failures hurt the growth of football in Canada.  The other night Vancouver took a giant step towards becoming the second consecutive USL-1 side to represent Canada in the two year old CONCACAF champions League.

You’d be hard pressed to find an expert on soccer in Canada with Duane’s background. I’ve previously interviewed him about both Toronto FC and the Canadian National Team. But on this issue, I think he is wrong.

First off Vancouver’s presumptive triumph much as Montreal’s last year is a triumph of home grown Canadian players. The Impact and Whitecaps both have a long standing tradition of fielding largely Canadian teams and developing young Canadian players. Toronto FC on the other hand under Mo Johnston took until this season an approach that brought second and third division European players and fringe American talent to Toronto. For every Jim Brennen, the Reds had two Laurent Robert type signings.

Certainly the qualification of USL-1 sides over MLS teams to CONCACAF is worrying. Both the CSA and USSF recognize MLS as a first division, and USL-1 (or actually the A-League) as the second division. Yet USL-1 teams have beaten MLS sides with alarming regularity in the US Open Cup and the Canadian Championship. The usual laundry list of excuses come up about MLS sides fielding second choice teams and USL teams being more motivated not withstanding, the results don’t lie.

The gap between the leagues is not where it should be or where we should all want it to be. Toronto FC is a prime case as to why USL-1 doesn’t serve as a classic second division. TFC has clearly demonstrated rather than promoting home grown talent or Canadian soccer they are more interested in fielding a cosmopolitan European oriented side. This is not limited to TFC, as more and more MLS teams fill up with foreign players who best days were playing in second tier first divisions or second divisions abroad.

This leaves several workmanlike journeyman type domestic players to the USL level. Montreal and Vancouver both are more Canadian than TFC. Many USL-1 sides have greter depth and squad continuity than MLS teams.

But enough of the USL-1 vs MLS argument. It’s tired, it’s old and even though I enjoyed engaging in it a year ago have grown tired of it- personally I support both leagues.

Back to the TFC vs Canadian USL teams argument. Duane in his piece believes fewer Canadians are interested in the Impact or Whitecaps representing the country than TFC. I am not Canadian but I have to believe it would be the opposite. When you field more Canadian nationals and have a fan base built up over 35 years in the case of the Whitecaps, or have a massive supportive fanbase over many years like the Impact, shouldn’t it actually be more galvanizing for one of those teams to represent Canada.

On the American side of the border, the Impact’s run in the most recent CONCACAF Champions League was a bigger story than any deep run by TFC would have been. I have to believe Canadians viewed the cup run similarly.

I could be wrong, but I believe TFCs failure is actually good for Canadian soccer. Canada’s National Team last made the Hexagonal Round of World Cup Qualifying in 1997. In 2009, you have two professional clubs committed to growing the Canadian player and the Canadian game. You have one professional club that until signing DeRo and Adrian Serioux, resembled a third division English side. Canada’s growth is best served by the Whitecaps and Impact continuing to succeed.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC. View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →
This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Toronto FC. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Is TFC’s Failure bad for Canada?

  1. jean-guy pepper says:

    I totally agree with your analysis. I would also add, that if TFC walked away with the trophy every year, many Canadians in USL cities would feel alientated, damaging the sport even further. The fact that teams from outside soccer mad Toronto can succeed and build a profile goes way further to promote and expand the game’s awareness than TFC winning ever could.

  2. Bishopville Red says:

    In addition to your excellent points, it’s worth noting that, for years, Vancouver has hosted an academy system that violates MLS regulations. MLS isn’t about developing talent. It’s about picking it off from other leagues that either can’t afford their better, or discard their weaker, players.

    Last year, Montreal had somewhere in the ball park of 27-28 players on their roster. LS doesn’t come close, and that’s what you need if you’re stretched in various competitions. This week, TFC rested players at Houston to prep for the Whitecaps game. They got hammered 3-0. Then, they played without some key figures against Vancouver – 2-0 loss.

    58 thousand for the Impact in the CONCACAF CL last February. What more needs to be said? NONE of this bodes ill for Canadian soccer. It’s a f**kin’ total disaster for MLS, however.

  3. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    “It’s a f**kin’ total disaster for MLS, however.”

    hahahahahaha… so true

  4. Lars says:

    The MLS really needs to ease up on restrictions and caps…but yes, it’s good for Canadian soccer. Any competition is. If there was no competition, it’d be boring and even less people would watch.

  5. Max in Miami says:

    You have to go back to the beginning:

    Duane Rollins is an arrogant, self-important pile of crap, a blowhard clown without class or substance.

    Other than that he’s just great.

    Get a room.

  6. Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club says:

    Great piece! You’re getting bookmarked.

    I clicked that link and read that clown’s nonsense. What a hack. He should go back to posting “tfc rules!” on the RPB forum.

    The ‘Caps will do Canada proud in the CCL. And our league will rise to #1. Which means our competition will get easier in 2011. It’s all good.

  7. Joey Clams says:

    I really couldn’t care less about what’s good or bad for Canada.

  8. Steve Beau says:

    Thats good Joey because nobody cares what you think either….If you don’t care about Canadian soccer then don’t read or comment on articles that discuss it…

  9. Lars says:

    Whitecaps FC: It isn’t over yet, the Impact have a tendency to let in a lot of goals. If we can get Barrett or Vitti actually scoring on half their chances, we might be able to beat them 5 or 6 nothing, but seeing how that is next to impossible…you’re likely in.

  10. Ed says:

    The premise of your piece is so woefully off the mark. Your main argument — Vancouver has more Canadians than TFC — is totally bogus, as in fact TFC started 6 Canadians on Tuesday night: keeper, all 4 defenders and DeRo; Vancouver only started 4 Canadians – Chin, Gage, Haber and Gbeke. And TFC’s loss might hurt MLSE in the pocket book (as they can’t book out the Rogers Centre midwinter to a full house of TFC supporters), but only someone with his head firmly lodged in the MLSE butt would say it hurts Canadian soccer. This result is TERRIFIC for Canadian soccer. Montreal had the fever last year; this year the West Coast will rock for the ‘Caps.

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