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Taking care of our own: CSA looks to increase pro opportunities for Canadian men at home and in MLS

The CSA is committed to finding a homegrown solution to the lack of professional playing opportunities for Canadian men.

At a press conference in Toronto on Thursday, CSA president Victor Montagliani confirmed that starting a coast-to-coast semi-pro division 3 league is part of the CSA's 5-year strategic plan.

Montagliani did not place a specific timeline on starting such a league, but pointed out that it would be regional in scope and that two provinces -- Ontario and Quebec -- will be operating D3 leagues by 2014.

He said that such leagues would provide players opportunity during "gap years" between academy/college graduation and being able to turn fully pro.
Although Canadian-based MLS academies have helped in this regard, Montagliani stressed that they weren't "a magic bullet" that will fix all problems.

In the past, Canada has tied itself to the American system. In the past year, the CSA has made it clear that it needs to move away from that approach at lower levels.

To that end, the Association will no longer sanction new Canadian D3 teams in American leagues. MLS academies wishing to play in USL-Pro could be excluded from this as the parent club sanctioning would cover their participation.

Central to the CSA's frustration is the lack of control it has in dealing with American leagues. A specific concern is MLS's unwillingness to make Canadian players domestics for American-based teams.

The CSA rejects MLS's position that U.S. labour law prohibits that for happening and has been "in dialogue" with MLS for at least a year to change the rules.

Montagliani said that progress has been "minimal" on the subject, but that he expects a resolution soon.

The CSA's position that it should be possible to make Canadians domestic players in MLS seems to be backed up by the rules in two other U.S. leagues.

USL-Pro has a seven-player limit on international players, but does not count Canadians against that limit. The National Women's Soccer League excludes both Mexican and Canadian allocated players from its international quotas as well.

MLS claims that all foreign nationals must be treated the same and thus it is impossible to exclude Canadians from their international player quotas.


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