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.