It’s the year 2021, the CMNT are ranked the best they have ever been. The CPL is in it’s 3rd season, and has their champion qualifying for the Champions League. We got a world class kid from Edmonton part of the winning culture at Bayern Munich, a kid from Ottawa leading Ligue 1 in goals off the back of leading his team to their first championship in 10 years, and two Brampton boys lifting trophies in an Istanbul.
What do these guys/clubs have in common other than being Canadian? They all developed their game on Canadian soil.
But what does that mean going forward. Is this “golden generation” more than an anomaly - how do we really take control of our future? It starts by changing the overall perception of the game in Canada and maximizing the potential of our league - the Canadian Premier league, and here’s how that looks.
“Breaking news Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, and the Vancouver Whitecaps will join the CPL prior to the 2026 World Cup.”
Now you’ve probably read that and thought “this guys smoking that lala land stuff” or “the MLS has done so much for the development of Canadian mens soccer, this would be a setback”….but wait, hear me out.
Here’s why, let’s look at Player Development:
There is a massive contingent of active national team players that are Canadian developed. (I.e they’ve played their developmental years in Canada, and went pro in Canada or USA. Miller, Waterman, Laryea, Davies, David, Buchanan, Johnston, Crepeau, Adekugbe, Henry, Kaye, Osorio, Fraser, Shaffelburg, Akinola) some are TFC, Impact, Whitecaps academy trained, some are Sigma, Vaughan SC trained, some are your regular local youth club. However a lot of these guys have “randomly” burst onto the scene just based on being given an opportunity, and I don’t believe some of these guys are who they are today solely because of MLS. We have homebred talent, we just don’t have the overall product to suffice. Which goes to my next point.
Yes the CPL is considered CAN D1 to the “in-the-knows”, but to the average person it is perceived as amateur, doesn’t exist or the “so do they play in the same league as Toronto FC”…Fan perception has a massive effect in our biggest metros, and it’s important piece of this league to make it more than just a developmental league. Not having the countries biggest cities, and biggest teams in it will always be a huge detriment to the overall look of the league, no matter how much it evolves. So what does the league look like if they are there.
Currently there are 8 CPL teams, with a future 2 clubs in Saskatchewan, and the Vancouver proper. Add Quebec City team because we all know there needs to be a team there. You add the 3 MLS Teams and it equals to 14 teams.
A great base to solidify the first division footprint. The D3 leagues are building out, which will naturally facilitate with the development of building the pyramid upwards.
The leagues salary rules could be a hybrid of MLS & CPL (2M + 3 Luxury Players)
Here’s some of the positives:
The former MLS teams can still be competitive
Increased options for Canadian players
An expanded Voyageurs Cup
More CCL slots
Argument to play in the Concacaf regional Leagues Cup.
More Canadians tested on the regional stage
(As of 2024, there will be a 10% chance that our “best”Canadian teams can qualify for champions league through MLS Cup. A 6% chance at qualifying through Leagues Cup)
In the current & future state, our Canadian representation will be heavily affected or heavily skewed due to the fact that our “top” (MLS) teams will have a lower chance at qualifying over the likes of the CPL teams. Every iteration of the tournament will potentially have 1 MLS team, and 3 CPL teams baring a miracle if the 3 Canadians teams win one of the Supporters Shield, MLS Cup, Leagues Cup or the Voyaguers Cup - the odds will always be stacked against us.
So where’s the consistent chance at testing our guys against the best in Concacaf before they reach the national team. Development will be bottled if our alleged best, most financially backed clubs aren’t consistently able to test themselves with homebred talent against the continental powerhouses.
Some will say “I would hate for our league to be like La Liga or the Bundesliga, where the same one or two teams win all the time (ahem Forge) but it won’t because of the baseline parity these teams would have. We have to navigate through the hype and success of the men and woman’s national team successes, and solidify ourselves as Concacaf powerhouse.
This era isn’t an anomaly. This is how we control our future.
This is our USA 94 moment.
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 CanPL Review aims to provide an analysis of each Canadian Premier League match from The Island Games, focusing on tactical trends and individual performances. Once all matches are analyzed, a team by team and season review summarizing the tactical trends and individual performances will be provided.
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.
Just happy Canada is regarded as Tier 1 in all of these discussions so far, as it has just not been the case until this most recent WC qualifying.
as to where the shape goes from here...fingers crossed.
Thanks Robin for your dedication to the game. I really enjoy reading these reports, especially listening to the coaches' interviews. Provides great opportunities to learn a little more about these teams/players.