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    By: Duane Rollins
    Let’s start this by making something abundantly clear: No one – literally no one – wants the CanPL to fail.  
    Not me, not you, not the players, not the MLS teams, literally no one. We waited far too long for a league of our own and only want it to be successful.
    The CanPL is the ultimate underdog story. It shouldn’t work. In fact, many people told us it wouldn’t work. Yet, here it is.
    That love, combined with the league’s try-hard status, makes people feel the need to protect the league from criticism. It’s as if any negative word is going to cause the whole thing to come tumbling down.
    That’s a dangerous attitude, as independent and engaged media is both a sign of a league’s health, as well as being useful to driving the league to make improvements to areas where they are failing.
    So, if you are uncomfortable with negative information about the league becoming public you should give that some thought. Those of us that are hard on the league are doing it from a place of love.
    As stated, no one wants to the league to fail.
    Caveat to justify what I’m about to write out of the way…
    The CanPL has a money problem. And, it’s far worse than anyone thought it would be when this thing launched. To be clear, I’m not talking about there being a danger of the league folding. The owners went into things with an understanding that they would lose money for a few years. Getting it to 2026 and seeing a World Cup bump after is what the league is working towards and there is no indication that they won’t get there.
    However, a lot of the players currently in the league will not. That is, they won’t without a significant bump in the average pay. Without that, you will see a lot of younger players shooting their shot for 1-2 years before “retiring” to pursue jobs that won’t require them to eat Kraft Dinner every night with their 6 roommates in a 550sqft apartment.
    A couple pieces of news today really drove that home. First was the announcement that Island Games standout Aboubacar Sissoko forgoing a return to Halifax to instead go to the USL to play for Indy 11. It was reported that Halifax made a decent offer, but it is also clear that Indy could afford to make a better one.
    But, the real kicker came later in the day when Valour’s Dylan Carriero announced his retirement. At just 26, it’s awfully young to be stepping away from the game when there isn’t an injury involved. However, Carriero went to university and with a top end salary in CanPL for a player at Carriero’s level, at best, $35,000 it suddenly it becomes very difficult to justify putting off “getting a real job.”
    And, that’s the best case figure. In talking to several players over the past few months, I’ve learned of some truly terrible salary figures. As always, the league is tight lipped about the money, but the numbers I consistently hear are as follows:
    ·       U-Sport player: $10,000
    ·       Domestic rookie: $10,000 to $12,500
    ·       Player with some previous pro experience:  $15,000 to $20,000
    ·       Established player: $18,000 to $25,000
    ·       Star domestic player: $30,000 to $35,000
    ·       International player $35,000 + Housing
    As with any list like this there will be some outlier numbers on either end, but by in large those are the ranges that I have heard. (Note to the league: I’m happy to print any disputing figures that you wish to send.)
    Look, everyone understands that this is a start-up league and no player was deluded into thinking that they were going to get rich playing in the CanPL.  They are chasing their dreams and are more than willing to accept salaries that are reasonably modest in exchange for the opportunity to play their way into a better salary, either in the league, or elsewhere.
    It’s also understood that the CanPL is always going to be a league with a high churn level. Players are either going to move on or move up pretty quickly. However, the players do feel that it’s reasonable to expect a living wage. A significant amount of the league is not on that.
    Sure, you might be able to live on that money for a year or two in your early 20s while you scratch the itch of trying to be a pro player. But, at those numbers – even at the higher end – it is very difficult to justify staying on for much longer that that. In practical terms, that means it’s going to be nearly impossible for a “lifer” class to emerge in CanPL.
    As I’ve written before, having players that make up the core of teams and stay for several years is vital to the long-term success of the league. You need older players, like Carriero, to push and challenge the prospects that everyone is excited to see. As much as fans want to see the young guns, that middle class is arguably more important to cultivate.
    And that won’t happen without an increase in salary.
    It won’t be easy – no one is suggesting it will – but to start that process the league needs to first acknowledge that the need exists. Since they won’t even recognize the Professional Footballers Association Canada right now, it’s unclear if they can take that tiny step to acknowledge the problem.  
    And, you know what they say: The first step is always to acknowledge that you have a problem…

    The evolution of pro soccer in the nation’s capital will take a new step forward on February 11th with the new Canadian Premier League club backed by Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. From there, owners and key figures in the club will have as little as three weeks to get a manager, coaches and a full roster of players ready for pre-season camp, which is scheduled to start at the beginning of March for other CPL clubs. In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s squeaky-bum time for those building Atletico Ottawa.

    Many of the league’s top players and prospects have already signed elsewhere in the league, and much of the former Fury roster has found new clubs in both the CPL and USL, but there are still many players Atletico Ottawa can to look at and potentially sign before the regular season kicks off in April. The roster will likely include some loan players from the Atletico program, as well as some L10 and PLSQ players, however there is also a chance for Atletico Ottawa to pick up some fairly well-known names in the Canadian Soccer community. Here are five players that I think Atletico Ottawa brass should seriously consider making their first grouping of signings.
    Find the list & analysis on the NSXI Network.

    The Canadian soccer landscape is going through a serious metamorphosis. The last decade has seen the launch of regional Division 3 leagues Première Ligue de Soccer du Québec and League 1 Ontario in 2012 and 2013 respectively. In 2019 the Canadian Premier League played its first season. For male soccer players wishing to play professionally, these are encouraging developments. Prior to the existence of these leagues, the odds were significantly stacked against players trying to make the leap from youth to professional as the gap in playing level was simply too large.
    It is a gap that long time soccer broadcaster and current Marketing and Communications Officer for BC Soccer Peter Schaad knows all too well. Over much of the past year, Schaad and his BC Soccer cohorts have been working steadily to address that issue for BC players.
    The idea of a Division 3 regional league like PLSQ and L1O was included in BC Soccer’s 2016 strategic plan. However at the time the ‘Regional Tier 3 League’ as it was called gained insufficient interest from potential participating clubs and the idea was shelved. But the start of the Canadian Premier League breathed new life into BC League 1 and it was revived.
    Read more on the NSXI Network.

    Langley-born Joel Waterman officially made history on Tuesday afternoon, as he became the first player to make the jump from the Canadian Premier League to Major League Soccer, joining the Montreal Impact for a fee reported to be in the $100k region. Waterman also became the first player sold by a CPL team for a transfer fee, giving us an example of how beneficial the new Canadian first division can be for young footballers in this country.
    Despite being the only player to make the jump to MLS so far, Joel Waterman wasn’t necessarily considered one of the best players in the CanPL. In fact, OneSoccer ranked him just 43rd on their year-end list of the top 50 players in the league. Waterman has many strong qualities though, and if an MLS team was convinced by his quality, then maybe he was somebody we were overlooking all season long.
    Let’s take an in-depth look at what Waterman does and doesn’t bring to the table for the Montreal Impact:
    His versatility is very impressive, and is certainly one of the main reasons Montreal signed him.
    Joel Waterman is a centre-back first and foremost, and while he can play other positions on the pitch, his versatility within the centre-back position on its own is rather impressive. As you know, there are multiple different formations used regularly in all levels of football, and pretty much all of those formations use either 2 centre-backs (a back 4) or 3 (a back 3). The roles played by centre-backs in these 2 formations vary quite a bit more than you’d expect, as do the areas of the pitch that they cover.
    Read more on the NSXI Network

    Thomas Nef has an indepth interview with Adam Hemati, an Iranian-Canadian who plays as a midfielder for Iranian club Persepolis. Learn his story.
    Available in both audio & video formats for your convenience.
    Find it here: https://www.northernstartingeleven.com/canucks-abroad-interview-series-episode-2-with-adam-hemati/

    Ottawa Fury announced last week that they have decided to suspend operations following issues regarding their CONCACAF sanctioning for USL in 2020. There is much to debate about decisions by those involved, however I  want to take this opportunity to look back at the 16 years that Ottawa Fury were operating in the capital region, and all the Canadian players, coaches and managers that this club gave opportunities to, and helped guide along the way.
    Ottawa Fury began in 2003 through John Pugh (current Canada Soccer Association board member), bringing women’s soccer to the capital region in the form of a USL W-League. Between 2003 and 2014, the Ottawa Fury W-League team managed to win nine division titles, made the national finals on three occasions and were league champions once. Over the course of its eleven seasons the W-League team featured such players as Kadeisha Buchanan (now with Lyon and the Canada women’s side) as well as Ashley Lawrence (currently with Paris Saint Germain and also the Canada women’s side).  
    Read more on the NSXI Network.

    On Canucks Abroad with Thomas & Juan, our host interviews Canadian Soccer Players from around the world.
    In this inaugural episode, Thomas interviews Aramis Kouzine, who played a year of futsal with CSKA, was cut from Philadelphia Union, and now plays in the Ukrainian Premier League.
    Catch the whole episode & subscribe on the NSXI Network.

    They are building a league. None of it existed before. It is easy for fans and followers to lose sight of what was so obvious only a few short months ago. Now people are paying attention to players, coaches, teams, formations, and results. But the challenge of winning games, learning your trade as a player or coach, or making tactical adjustments is undergirded by a league infrastructure which has an entire set of its own challenges, difficulties, and pitfalls. From marketing the teams to broadcasting the games to running your venue on game day, everywhere one turns there is a new challenge for the Canadian Premier League. And each of the teams face hurdles to overcome that are unique to their context.
    For Cavalry FC, their contextual challenges have included weather, transportation, and stadium creation. Their home base at Spruce Meadows required a significant amount of construction to get ready for this season including the construction of a large grandstand. Ian Allison, president and COO of Spruce Meadows Sports and Entertainment describes how the combination of weather and construction combined to negatively impact their playing surface.
    Read more on the NSXI Network.

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  • Posts

    • Perhaps I shouldn't be too critical of a 20 year old starter and Champions League winner with Bayern, but I have been less than impressed with Davies at winger. This was the second game in a row where he's been pushed up late in the second half with zero impact on the game. In this case the game was won already, but it would have been nice to see Davies cause some problems. He was very much a passenger riding out the match, not overcomplicating things and playing it safe, which can be seen as the mature thing to do I suppose, but I was disappointed that he wasn't more daring the few times he did find the ball. 
    • Edit your post or some posters are going to freak out.....
    • I know most people prefer Davies on the wing but I do wonder about using him at LB specifically against a fast counterattacking team.  For Bayern he regularly chases down guys bombing down the wing and with a defensive pool that isn’t generally known for its speed he may be able to help extinguish what we are seeing as the main threat.   With him and Laryea is FBs we would be less susceptible to the counter.  This would be specifically used for the Bermuda games and not something I would advocate against the other teams.     Just a thought. 
    • I've tried making a team with players that they're currently looking like getting before March. It's a pretty interesting first group of new additions.   _______________  Hahn_______________ Dankerlui__Donk__Pinas__Nelom___ _______________Donald________________ _______Leerdam_______Riedewald____ _________________Chery________________ Becker_______________________Biseswar They are really lacking a proper striker at the moment. All the other spots are pretty solid really. They could maybe move Chery to right wing and play Becker striker but they have play a bit more on the counter for that to be successful. Wonder if they're trying to get Queensy Menig from Twente. Not really a striker as well but a bit more technical than Becker who is just pure pace and power so if they can get him, they're a real danger up front as well. Kerk from Utrecht would be sensational as well. Bit similar to Becker but better as a 9 as well.
    • Keep in mind that we are a completely different team than past years as well.  I’ve been following Canada for over 20 years and we really have never had this kind of top end players and depth of high quality players.   Yes we don’t have great strength at CB but aside from that we have a superior base of talent and top end talent at every other position.  With the exception of Mexico and the US we should expect to beat every team in CONCACAF at the moment. When other teams look at our talent- they immediately think- how will be be able to contain their attackers and midfield. I know that this is Canada but we have to change our attitude.  We have to expect to beat the mid level CONCACAF teams.  Certainly it would be an upset if we lost to any of them at the moment.
    • A reputation for being class in the first/second round of WCQ and flunking out in the 3rd?  
    • Better than him on the bench! jk... but some lineups will put Hoilett on the bench if we don't do a back 3. Technically speaking we should have 3 CBs to do a proper back 3 but with 2 6's I think we could pull it off. It also works great vs a countering team. Also, it's not like we're inventing a formation, many successful teams have played with 3 at the back.... it's really just an idea. I think we win this one either way, so it's more in the long run is there a way to get better players on the pitch. One idea would be to simply put Hutch at CB(if he comes), then we have 4. Or we could put Davies in back 4(I think this is a particularily bad decision for this game, but maybe vs stronger teams) which frees up another spot in the attack.
    • This year he has really risen to the top of our midfield pack.  Considering age and performance he should be an automatic starter. If I was building a midfield trio for Canada for the 2022 WC it would be him, Osorio and Arfield.  I think that midfield trio would be top notch in CONCACAF and could compete with a fair number of World Cup teams. Not to mention that our forwards- David, Davies and Larin could compete with a lot too. Now that back line on the other hand......   edit - to clairify - I still think the US and Mexico have better midfields.  But I do think we have the 3rd best overall talent 
    • So how should we judge a team that has completely overhauled their player pool? Pretend they're still a bunch of nobodies playing in Suriname? I don't get this mentality... they have 2 CB's better than any of our CB's. They have a ton of depth that will match up closely with our MLS guys. When have we ever looked good against a team of this quality?   This concept that we're Canada, and we have a reputation and they're Suriname and they're a tiny little nation in another continent doesn't mean anything, when they have a lot of talent. Who cares if they're over 30? We're playing them this year! Atiba's 38, Arfield's 32, Borjan's 33... I don't think this means much.
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