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CIS pushing for MLS draft entry: Coach

In case you missed it, York Lions Head Coach Carmine Isacco dropped a bit of a bomb on Friday's show when he revealed that there are efforts underway by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) to see Canadian university players participating in the MLS SuperDraft and MLS Combines in the near future.

"I've been seeing some initiatives for CIS players to become draft eligible. Not sure where they're at but I know there has been a lot of data aimed and talked back and forth (between MLS and CIS). We are at that level now."
As it stands presently, there is no direct route into the MLS system for a Canadian player and the league and the USSF have resisted past inquires by Canadian representatives. Isacco, who was on Toronto FC's staff in 2007, thinks those who opposed Canadian draft entry in the past, don't have much of a leg to stand on any more.

"People preached about all year programming - well, our schools have all year programming. People preached about having national team players - well, our programs have national team players. People preached about the level of athleticism - I ask anyone to come watch a CIS game and ... when push comes to shove the best teams in the nation, and the final 8, all have very good technical players," he said.

"There is credible evidence now to say that 'hey our programs can develop these types of MLS players and proper professionals'"

Recent graduates from some of Canada's top soccer schools have included: Haidar Al-Shaibani of Nimes Olympique (French Ligue 2), who graduated from Western University; Nana Attakora of Toronto FC, who graduated from York University; Gabe Gala of Toronto FC, who graduated from U of T (University of Toronto); Srdan Dekanovic of the Montreal Impact, who graduated from UBC (University of British Columbia).

And there are dozens more from the graduating class that could find their way on to teams if a direct route existed. They may not all be top-class, but they can play and compete at an MLS level.

Isacco, who played at the University of Maryland himself, takes it a step further and asserts that any of the top teams in this country could compete against those the NCAA.

"If you look at the UBC's, you look at the York's, you look at the U of T's, you look at Laval - those teams would compete with any of the the top 25 teams in NCAA - without a doubt."

In fact, NCAA teams have been challenged by Isacco and other CIS coaches to friendlies in the past, only to be turned down on the appearance of what losing to a Canadian team might look like.

So, what's next for the CIS? How far off are Canadian players from being MLS draft eligible?

"The onus will be on the Vancouver's and the Montreal's and the Toronto FC's to actually make a commitment to it. ... These are going to be initiatives (that have to be) not only taken up by the CIS but Vancouver and Montreal and Toronto," Isacco said.

My two cents?

Having come under fire recently for allowing the Canadian MLS quotas to be diminished, if Vancouver and Toronto were to come out in support of the CIS' efforts, it would go a long way to re-establishing their reputations as clubs who are committed to developing Canadian talent.


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