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    New WPSL expansion club, Vancouver Island FC announced their first three signings in club history on April 19th. Three players were named to the roster: Liz Gregg, Mariel Solsberg, and Alexis McKinty. Coached by Neil Sedgwick and Wes Barrett, the first tryouts were held on April 1st and the club has two more tryouts scheduled for late April. 
    Liz Gregg joins VIFC with a wealth of professional football experience including multiple seasons abroad with Doncaster Rovers Belles.
    Continue reading on the NSXI Network.

    Duane Rollins
    We don’t like life getting in the way of our sports.
    Sports are supposed to shield us from the day-to-day irritations and stresses. They are our escape. So, when “real life” sneaks its way onto the playing fields many get angry.
    “STICK TO SPORTS,” is the cry when someone tries to start a conversation about more serious topics. That’s a best case response. Worse?
    Often the voices calling to be heard are shouted down by those that just want to cheer.
    We see this in soccer all the time, especially as it relates to racism. And, of course, as always, anything that has to do with women. It’s toxic when fans do this. It destroys lives when institutions do it.
    Such is the case of Bob Birarda and the accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment made against him by, so far, 12 different women who were coached by him while part of the Canadian u20 program and Vancouver Whitecaps elite women’s team. The alleged incidents took place in and around 2008.
    The 12 women came forward after Ciara McCormack published a blog detailing the abuse of power she witnessed while at the Whitecaps at that same time.
    I won’t go into the details here as it is better stated by the 12 women and McCormack, but suffice to say it was horrific.
    It also wasn’t a surprise to anyone that has been around Canadian soccer over the past decade. I first heard a version of this story about nine years ago. It’s been whispered by those “in the know” for years.
    Yet, nothing ever was said publicly. Worse, nothing was done privately either. Prior to the accusations finally becoming public Birarda was still coaching women’s soccer for the club Coastal FC. He’s since been suspended by the club pending review of the accusations.
    Over the past while, I’ve been thinking about why I never wrote or talked about these accusations publicly over the last decade. A fear of being sued likely played a role, but I was involved with a show in It’s Called Football (along with this website) that went after matchfixing (Ben Rycroft’s reporting leading the way), corruption in minor soccer (hello, Ben Knight) and talked openly about potential improprieties in Mo Johnston’s relationship with certain player agents.
    In a previous job, I wrote a story accusing the Northern Ontario Minor Hockey Association of systemic racism against aboriginal players.
    So, I’ve pushed the boundaries as a journalist before. Why didn’t I here?
    I should have. And, I apologize for not doing so. 
    The question is one that I don’t yet know the answer to. But, it’s one that I, and everyone who heard the same whispers, needs to keep asking themselves so that it never happens again.
    Ciara McCormack will be a guest on SoccerToday on Monday, live at 11am ET @SoccerTodaySPN

    Duane Rollins
    It’s been 9,305 days. 310 months. 223,320 hours.

    The Toronto Blue Jays were 20 days away from winning their first World Series. Bill Clinton was running for President.

    And Canada had just lost its professional soccer league. When the Winnipeg Fury finished off their upset of the Vancouver 86ers on Oct 4, 1992, that was that. The dreams of the 1986 generation were dead and the dreams of the next were dead on arrival.  

    Although the game lived on at the D2 level and, eventually, MLS came to fill a tiny part of the void.

    In exactly one month the long, hopeless, depressing walk in the woods will end.  When Forge FC kicks-off against York 9 we can finally stop talking about what we don’t have and instead focus on what we might become.

    In honour of the final 30 days without a pro soccer league here are the top 30 things I hope to see in CanPL over the next 5 years.

    In 2019

    30. A wonder goal makes the sports packages.

    I don’t care who or what team, but in a year where building recognition is the most important thing I hope to see a goal or play crossover into the mainstream.

    29. Someone dislikes someone

    Sports aren’t fun without conflict. The league will arrive the day there’s some true anger and rivalry

    28. I’m (or other neutral reporter) is accused of bias

    I don’t have a horse in the race, but I look forward to being accused of it. That will mean fans are being irrational and fans should be irrational.

    27. Barrett’s Privateers is sung in Halifax

    I mean, come on.

    26. The Fury get humbled

    Sorry, Ottawa fans but the Fury represent every negative person out there who tells us its silly to care about this league. It would be great to put a few goals past them in the V-Cup.

    25. Fury and CanPL make up

    …and then see the two groups make up for the good of the sport

    24. A mostly CanPL u23 team excels at Olympic Qualifying

    Now, wouldn’t that be nice…

    In 2020

    23. The Fury join the fold

    And all is forgiven

    22. Quebec gets in

    The league needs to be in French Canada and, especially, Quebec. Adding Ottawa and Montreal would be huge

    21. A coaching change happens

    I don’t wish to cheer for someone to lose their job, but the first coaching change that happens will be a sign of a healthy league – winning should matter.

    20. Lower Mainland in

    Three expansion teams might seem like a lot, but they brought seven in this year. Having a presence in all three major metros is important

    19. A young player leaves for MLS

    Establishing the league as a natural part of the player pathway is vital. It would be a huge success if a young player is poached by MLS in just the second year.

    18. A V-Cup upset

    One of TFC, VWFC or IMFC gets embarrassed in one leg of a series. It’s a bit early to hope for more, but that would be a great day for the league.

    In 2021

    17. CanWPL announced

    Planning to start a women’s league begins in earnest

    16. Full D3 coverage

    The League1 Ontario concept is extended to all 10 provinces, with a national D3 championship determined

    15. A rival for Winnipeg

    One of Regina or Saskatoon joins to bring the league to 11

    14. A rival for Halifax

    One of Moncton or Quebec joins to bring the league to 12

    13. Al-Classico featured in some cheesy ultras profile

    It shouldn’t matter, but we’re lying if we don’t admit that we want the rest of the world to notice

    12. WE QUALIFY TO QATAR!!!!!

    Not fully CanPL related, but let’s allow ourselves to dream a little

    In 2022
    11. Kitchener-Waterloo joins

    As one part of a SW Ontario expansion that hits the biggest population area still without a team

    10. With London

    And the 519 derby is born (just don’t call it that)

    9. The women get a cup

    Using the D3 teams along with a few CanPL senior women’s teams that are up and running the first women’s Voyageurs Cup is held

    8. A player is sold to a Big 5 league team

    This is what it is all about

    7. Qatar

    We score a goal and compete with honor. There are players on the roster that played in CanPL

    6. CCL Fever

    A Can PL wins the qualifying tournament and gets a shot at the region’s big boys

    In 2023
    5. Coast-to-coast

    Welcome St. John’s!

    4. The first 16 round out

    The 16th team joins – lets say Mississauga or Scarborough to round-out the GTA

    3. First evidence the league is part of our culture

    “16-year-old Dave Smith said ‘I always dreamed of playing for Forge. My dad used to take me to the games.”

    2. The Canadian Women’s Premier League kicks-off

    To a stable and successful future…

    1 – The plan to launch CanPL2 and Pro/Rel is announced

    And we smugly hold it over US soccer Twitter’s heads.  

    Duane Rollins
    It almost seems blasphemes to openly worry about CanPL popularity at this point. Suggesting that the league will struggle to find relevance in a crowded sports market is something grumpy old sportswriters, clueless hockey fans and (some) Ottawa Fury fans do.
    The rest of us are all in. True believers in this wonderful project. Planning has been ongoing for five years now. Everything has been put in place to make this thing work.
    It’s failed before. Twice. First when the NASL blew up in 1984 (although that was more top do with American teams – OK, the New York Cosmos – overspending and ultimately misreading the market. Once the stars left so did the fans. The second time was all on us though. The CSL died on the vine in the 1990s and with it the hopes of nearly two decades of Canadian soccer.
    Those failures are not viewed with nuance by most. Rather, it’s just proof that trying again is foolish and that it’s only a matter of time until it all comes crashing down again.
    If you’re reading this you probably feel that things are different this time. You understand that two of the three NASL teams that didn’t fold (Whitecaps and Toronto Blizzard) were in Canada and both would have continued on if the league had not pulled the plug. It’s appreciated that the CSL was littered with owners who had far more good intentions than actual capital and that the CanPL owners are running in a completely different tax bracket.
    You get all that, but that doesn’t mean that the feeling will be held by the majority of sports fans in this country. Those grumpy sportswriters and broadcasters still hold a lot of influence. The most listened to sports radio show in the country has featured two segments on the latest attempt to start a spring football league in the USA, but not a single word on CanPL.
    We in the soccer community can dismiss the importance of this, but the reality is it’s an obstacle that is going to need to be overcome for the league to thrive.
    Note, I said thrive, not survive. It will survive just fine. The demographics have shifted. The soccer-hating generation is literally dying off. Twenty years ago it would have been inconceivable that the three MLS teams would have become as important to their market as they have. Now, it’s silly to even suggest that’s going to change. Flash-forward 20 more years and it stands to reason that many of the current CanPL markets, and some we have yet to even conceive, will feel the same way about their soccer team as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal feel about theirs now.   
    But, there will be struggles initially. Struggles to get attention and to get butts in the seats.
    And, make no mistake, those that want the sport to fail – and their remains a few who do – will glory at any struggle the clubs face.
    Hell, even MLS still faces this in certain places. To the point that they had the research firm Boston Consulting research the market in 2015 so that they could grow their fan base. This is useful to CanPL fans in that they also included Canada in the research. Although they did not separate the data, you can draw conclusions of what CanPL will be facing when it comes to getting people to care.
    What they found was that 66% of MLS fans fell into one of two broad categories. The “Soccer enthusiasts”--  highly engaged, soccer-first fans – and the “Hardcore Sports Fan – basically the crazy guy at the end of the bar that can talk in detail about the 1996 Western Regional final in NCAA basketball while filling out his fantasy NFL line-up and watching the Sens play the Hurricanes on a Tuesday night in November
    That guy also likes soccer now. That’s a change over last couple decades.
    The thing is those two groups only account for 32% of all soccer fans. So, MLS is missing out on 68% of its potential market.
    Therein lies the biggest problem for CanPL. How do you avoid the same resistance to MLS that more than 2/3 of American soccer fans have?
    It starts by understanding why that 68% aren’t watching their local team. There the numbers are a little less obvious.
    The inclination of many would be to assume that those fans are so-called “Eurosnobs,” – fans only interested in watching the highest levels of play. However, the MLS research suggests that only 2% of fans fit that description. Related, that 2% account for 98% of the posts on BigSoccer’s US abroad forums.
    Where, then, do the rest fit in? We can only speculate, but it stands to reason that a good chuck are “MexiSnobs” and a good number don’t have a local team to relate to.
    You can’t do much about the ____Snobs fans. They have made up their mind for the most part. But, on the latter point you can absolutely address it. You need to be doing all in your power to make sure that the clubs are extensions of the community they represent.
    MLS does a lot of things right, but they often default to the business side of life. If you talk to a lot of MLS fans they will tell you that their loyalty is to the stand that sit in and the friends that have made at the game over the years more than it is to the franchise that they watch.
    Even as MLS teams do things to become true “clubs” they can’t ever totally shake that “franchise” label. The CanPL has the great advantage of being able to look at everything MLS has done right and everything that it has done wrong.
    And that might allow them to tap into the missing 68% more effectively.  

    Duane Rollins
    With less than two months to go to the start of the first ever CanPL season the league is starting to take shape. Sure, we might not have all the information that we would like, but by in large you can kind of close your eyes and see it now.
    Having gone through a four year journey from rumour to reality it’s more than a bit surreal.
    But, it’s not as surreal as the thought of Diego Forlan ending his career in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
    That’s not a knock on Winnipeg. It’s just not normally seen as a place where guys that played in Madrid and Milan end up.
    Maybe it is now though and that’s another aspect of the league, albeit not the one that most people focus on. It’s also an aspect that will divide opinion.
    Keeping in mind that the Forlan rumour is far from a sure thing – it’s just the first true “silly season” suggestion in the league’s history. There will be more – should fans be excited by the possibility of an aging global superstar ending his career, or should they worry about the league losing its focus and becoming more about the sizzle of marketing than the steak of development.
    Yes. The answer to both is yes. But, as long as the 6 Canadian starting rule is in place it doesn’t seem likely that the CanPL is going to go down the path of the Beckham-era MLS. In that case, is there really any harm in a guy like Forlan coming over?
    Some might suggest that he’s taking time away from a young Canadian. Maybe, but at 40 he won’t be taking that time away for long. The key would be to make sure he was coming with the understanding that his role was to be a mentor to young players as much as it would be to score goals for Valour.
    If he is willing to play that elder statesmen role then it might be a very good fit – particularly if he could be convinced to play a role beyond his playing years. Maybe that seems farfetched, but there’s a tournament of note happening here in 7 years. A guy like Forlan might see opportunity in associating himself with that.
    As stated, this is still a long shot, but the underlying value of foreign players coming in and sticking around remains an important part of the league. Those players won’t often be in Forlan’s league, but think about how much Danny Dichio has given to the Toronto soccer scene. His value to the game here goes far beyond seat cushion memories.
    The game has come a long way since those cushions flew, but it still has a long way to go, especially in places like Winnipeg where they are just now getting a professional team.
    So, if Forlan comes don’t over think it. Instead, sit back and see what happens. It is hard to argue it would be a bad thing. At worse, he comes, sells a few tickets and fades away without doing much else.
    At best, he helps mold a future Canadian national team striker. Either way, the league will march on.   

    Duane Rollins
    The following is a critical evaluation of each CanPL roster so far. Each player signing will be given a brief description and provided with a ranking from 1 to 5.

    Ultimately the ranking will be subjective, based on my understanding of the pool, conversations I’ve had with technical staff and the previous player of the player.

    The rankings are meant as a starting point for discussion, not an end. If you disagree, let me know in the comments. I’m open to change

    Skylar Thomas – D – Big, strong and great in the air – was a regular starter in USL – stand out at top NCAA program – 3.5/5

    Stephen Hoyle – F - International – technically strong – professional attitude—has scored at similar level in past – 3.5/5

    Tyson Farago – Keeper – deep roots to Winnipeg – journeyman keeper with solid leadership qualities – 2.5/5

    Dylan Sacramento – MF – quick player – good offensive instincts – has been questioned on commitment in past – Stand out on TFCA L1O champion team – 1.5/5

    Jordan Murrell – DF – Solid defender – regular USL starter  -- won’t standout for good OR bad reasons – 2/5

    Glenn Muenkat – MF – Fast and athletic – has struggled to get regular playing time at pro level – 2/5

    Raphaël Garcia – DF – tall defender – needs to work on strength – decent technically, but raw – from Impact acdemy – 1/5

    Raphael Ohin – MF – International – strong on the ball – impossibly good attitude – very committed player – 2/5

    Tyler Attardo – F – He’s 17! – likely a longer term project – raw rookie – 1/5

    Dylan Carreiro - --MF – Creative and technically gifted – the type of player this league was made for – 3/5

    Mathias Janssens – Keeper – international -  only 20 – was in Belgian third tier – likely a long-term project – 1/5

    Josip Golubar – MF -- international – veteran with more than 400 professional games – leader – was in Croatian second tier previously – 3/5

    Martin Arguiñarena – Very experienced and technical defender – 4/5

    Nestor Navia – VERY intriguing creative midfielder – 4/5

    Nicolás Galvis – Colombia trained player. Interesting possibilities – 3/5

    Ali Musse – Homecoming for a Foothills player – 1/5

    Diego Guitiérrez – Duel national player who played pro in Chile – 3.5/5

    Michael Petrasso –Former Canadian international. Stock has slipped, but still might have a lot to give – 3/5

    TOTAL – 18 players (2F, 5M, 4D, 2K) – Ave ranking – 2.47 – CanPL ranking 1


    Sergio Camargo – MF – Creative midfielder – TFC homegrown – been with Calgary program for while – 3/5

    Nik Ledgerwood – D/MF – 34 years old – extensively experienced – Played at very high level, but can he still keep up – great leader – 3.5/5

    Chris Serban – D – bit undersized – decent with ball – USL experience with Whitecaps 2 – bee in Foothills program for a while -- 2/5

    Elijah Adekugbe – MF – quick holding mid –suffered major injury – Whitecaps academy – 1.5/5

    Dominick Zator – D – big and good in air – limited pro experience – Been with Foothills – 1/5

    Marco Carducci – Keeper – USL experienced – Was with MLS Caps – bit undersized – 2.5/5

    Oliver – FW – Savvy forward with a lot of lower level experience – was a standout with Fury – 4/5

    Nico Pasquotti – MF – Was with Foothills – Rookie – raw – 1/5

    Dean Northover – MF – he tore up Alberta college soccer and was with Foothills – raw rookie – 1/5

    Niko Giantsopoulos – Keeper—Huge – journeyman player – professional attitude – 2.5/5

    Carlos Patino – MF – clever attacking mid – played in foothills system – 2/5

    Jordan Brown – FW – international – maybe the most intriguing signing in the league – played in the Europa League (albeit once) – ceiling could be very high – 4/5

    Julian Büscher  -- MF – Former German youth international – first round SuperDraft pick – struggled to get time at DCU – good tactical awareness – 3.5/5

    Nathan Mavila – Played at West Ham youth – described as a modern fullback – good degree of experience for young age – 2.5/5

    Mason Trafford – Solid vet – Brings experience – 3/5

    Malyk Hamilton – Exciting prospect that is returning home – 1.5/5

    Jay Wheeldon – Likely to play as much as of a player-assistant manager – Tommy’s brther 2.5/5

    TOTAL on Feb 15 – 17 players  – Ave ranking 2.38 – CanPL ranking 2

    Kyle Bekker – MF – Technically gifted. Good on set-pieces. Previous USL all-star. MLS experience. 4/5

    Chris Nanco – F – quick – bit undersized – more of a support striker in past – USL experienced – 2/5

    Marcel Zajac – F – Stand out in NCAA with Akron – rookie – intriguing prospect from technical college program  1.5/5  

    Tristan Borges – MF – Creative midfielder – youth player in Holland – Canadian youth international – first senior pro team – 2/5

    Bertrand Owundi – D – International – raw defender – struggled at MLS level – prone to errors – big and athletic – 2/5

    Kwame Awuah – D – good with ball – excelled at top NCAA program – limited MLS experience – bit undersized – 2/5

    Alexander Achinioti Jönsson – MF – strong and tall presence in midfield – been pro for 4 years – Swedish 2nd Div – 3/5

    Giuliano Frano – MF – Plays with sandpaper – Whitecaps 2 and Sounders 2 experience – good history with Forge technical staff – 1.5/5

    Dominic Samuel—D  – High ceiling prospect – League1 Ontario defender of the year – Pro experienced – 2/5

    Triston Henry – K—Solid at amateur level – raw pro – 1/5

    Jonathan Grant – D—Tall and athletic outside back – has struggled to get a chance since leaving Sigma – 2/5

    Elimane Oumar Cisse – a fascinating signing and potentially game changing – established international – if adjusts he could be a star –  He could also be a bust…thought really goes both ways 3/5

    Quillan Roberts – Needs to play. A mystery until we see it – 2.5/5

    Daniel Krutzen, -- Came from the youth ranks at Genk. Promising, but unknown – 2/5

    Monti Mohsen – Mostly a rookie – Cup of coffee at USL – 1/5

    Kadell Thomas – Long timestandout for Sigma in L1O – still a rookie – 1.5/5

    David Choiniere – High ceiling midfielder – chose CPL over USL – 2.5/5

    Emery Welshman – Homecoming for the hold up forward. Can he score? – 3.5/5

    TOTAL on March 19 --  Ave ranking 2.16 – CanPL ranking 3

    Kadin Chung – D – Outside back – considered one of best prospects – Was in Caps plans, but decided to try Europe – 2.5/5

    Marcus Haber –FW – Arguably the highest profile signing in league – full Canadian international – when on he can be very effective – some question about consistency – 4.5/5

    Alessandro Hojabpour – MF – good attacking instincts – some pro experience – 2/5

    Matthew Baldisimo – MF – Caps academy product – good amount of USL experience 1.5/5

    Terran Campbell – Raw striker – limited pro experience – 1/5

    Noah Verhoeven – MF – good attacking instincts – another young, Caps academy player – some pro experience – 1.5/5

    Mark Village – Keeper – very little experience for a player his age, even at keeper  -- 1.5/5

    Ben Fisk – MF -- Solid, professionally winger – good leadership qualities --  adaptable – 3/5

    Jose Hernandez – FW – raw rookie – 1/5

    Victor Blasco – MF – Said to be a sleeper signing by some – technically skilled – 3/5

    Marcel de Jong – D – Very experienced full-back – full Canadian international – should link well with Haber – 4/5 *** OUT FOR SEASON *** 0/5

    Nolan Wirth – k – Strong keeper with local ties – badly needs to play regularly at pro level – 1.5/5

    Issey Nakajima-Farran – Journeyman vet that has played at a good level. Still has legs? 3.5/5

    Hendrik Starostzik – Was at the B2 level, but struggled to find time. Big body. Might fit style – 2.5/5

    Lukas MacNaughton – Another big body. First pro chance – 2/5

    TOTAL—15 players (2F, 4M, 2D, 2K) – Ave rating: 2.1– CanPL rank: 4


    Randy Edwini-Bonsu – FW – Solid hold up forward with lots of experience – professional attitude – 3/5

    Allan Zebie – DF – Experienced defender familiar with FCE – does what’s on the box – 3/5

    Ajay Khabra – MF – untested midfielder – good attacking instincts – played in FCE system --  1/5

    Bruno Zebie – FW – Been in FCE system long time – one appearance in NASL – 1/5

    Ajeej Sarkaria – FW – The all-time Canada West scoring leader – untested at pro – 1.5/5

    Son Yongchan  -- MF – “The best player at the open trials” – played lower Asian leags – mystery – 2/5

    Connor James – Keeper – was arguably the best keeper in USports last year – untested as pro – 2/5

    Dylon Powley – Keeper – a long and winding road career path – excelled with Foothills – untested at pro level – 2/5

    Oumar Diouck – FW – Hold up striker with a good amount of experience—not the best finisher – played in Belgium 2nd – 2.5/5

    Ramόn Soria – DF – international -  Maybe the most technically skilled defender in league – strong leadership skills – 4.5/5

    Kareem Moses – international - DF – very experienced outside back – previously with FCE – 4/5

    Edem Mortotsi – MF – Great connection with FCE technical staff – a lot of dedication to club – solid – 2.5/5

    Tomi Ameobi – international - F - Veteran and FCE legend. -- Could be better finisher – can’t question desire – 3.5/5

    Marcus Velado-Tsegaye – MF – Young andraw. Quick on transition – 1/5

    Prince Amanda – MF – May be able to transition to outside back – good on the dribble—raw 1/5

    David Doe – FW – Has scored at will at amateur level – great work rate – young, but already experienced – 2/5

    James Marcelin – Mid – Solid journeyman – pro – has excelled at similar level – 3/5

    Jeannot Esua – D – Athletic and attack minded fullback – fairly raw – 1.5/5

    Philippe Lincourt-Joseph – M – solid player, if not spectacular – was in Impact system for good amount of time – 2/5

    Mele Temguia – D – Another Impact academy product. Dropped off map a couple years ago. Last chance? – 1/5

    Mélé Temguia – Academy grad. Rookie – 1/5

    Philippe Lincourt-Joseph – Academy grad. Rookie 1/5

    TOTAL 22 players -- Ave rating – 2.09– CanPL rank 5

    York 9

    Kyle Porter – MF – Journeyman pro – bounced around – struggled to break into MLS level but was solid for FCE in NASL – 3.5

    Simon Adjei – FW – International – Huge body – poacher – with service could be very dangerous – probably would create much on own – 3.5/5

    Austin Ricci – FW – Stand out locally, but mostly untested professionally – solid for mid-major NCAA – 1/5

    Steven Furlano – DF – no nonsense defender – some USL experience – 1.5/5

    Roger Thompson – DF – strong, professional defender – lots of experience in tier two leagues – 2.5/5

    Joseph Di Chiara – MF – Brave player – attack minded-- played in Eastern Europe – ripped up L1O – this is first time he’s in key spot on a team – could be a sleeper star in league – 3/5

    Manuel Aparicio – MF – Creative and technical midfielder that never got a real chance at TFC – make or break time – 3/5

    Cyrus Rollocks – FW – One of L1O’s best players while with TFC3 -- Big body – Potential – 1.5/5

    Wataru Murofushi – MF – technical and quick attack minded mid – scored a lot in Philippians league – mystery 2.5/5

    Munir Saleh – MF – Technical midfielder that played at a high NCAA level – Played on KW United – 2/5

    Matt Silva – Keeper – journeyman pro with lots of experience at lower European levels  -- 2.5/5

    Michael Cox – FW – Big body forward. Solid player at USL level – 3/5

    Daniel Gogarty – D – Good with ball – standout at Canadian University – raw 1/5 

    Justin Springer – D – Standard defender – raw – 1/5

    Morey Doner – D – fast, outside back – great story, but no pro experience – 1/5

    Emilio Estevez – MF – Star at Canadian college. Raw rookie – 1/5

    Luca Gasparotto – D – Once a darling of Canadian soccer – fell off radar while struggling for time in Scotland – last chance? Ceiling is high if finds form again – 2.5/5

    Diyaeddine Abzi – Fast outside back – first pro experience – 1/5

    Ryan Telfer – Loan player from TFC. Club still has hope, but he needs to show – 2.5/5


    TOTAL – 19 players (4F, 5M, 1K, 7D) – Ave ranking 2.07 – CanPL rank: 6


    Zachary Sukunda – DF – good attacking instinct – crosses well – played in Australian 2nd tier – journeyman – 2.5/5

    Akeem Garcia – F – international - quick – bit undersized – T&T youth international – 2.5/5

    Andre Rampersad – international - MF – raw midfielder – “a wildcard” – 2/5

    Elton John – MF – journeyman – good veteran experience – strong and fast – plays a mean piano – 2/5

    Jan-Michael Williams – Keeper – vastly experienced and good leader – played mostly in T&T – 4/5

    Chakib Hocine – DF – what-you-see-is-what-you-get-defender – will play safe, with limited mistakes – some question about ball skills – 1.5/5

    Elliot Simmons – MF – good prospect, if raw – passes well – limited experience – 1/5

    Vincent Lamy – F – No pro experience, but a very intriguing attacking prospect – tore up US development league last year – can he make jump to pro? 1.5/5

    Scott Firth – MF – Long-term prospect – local product – 1/5

    Ndzemdzela Langwa – D – Fast and attack minded – Limited experience – his nickname is Zoom, so that’s fun – 1.5/5

    Chrisnovic N’sa – D – young, raw defender from Impact academy – 1/5

    Alex De Carolis – D – Journeyman outside back – solid pro – 2/5

    Christian Oxner –K – Usports keeper – local to Halifax – raw – 1/5

    Kodai Iida –MF- small, but “slippery” was a stand out at open trials – a 24 year old rookie -- dedicated  -- 1.5/5

    Kouamé Ouattara – MF – Very strong – a CanPL “Yaya Toure? – pretty raw – 1.5/5

    Juan Diego Gutierrez –M—Creative – journeyman – lots of pro experience – 2.5/5

    Luis Alberto Perea F – Scored at similar level – experienced – age a question – 3.5/5

    TOTAL – 17 players (3F, 6MF, 5D, 2K) – Ave ranking – 1.73 – CanPL ranking – 7

    Duane Rollins
    Let's start with the obvious. Sebastian Giovinco will be missed. Mostly by Toronto fans, but also by MLS fans in general. The little Italian thrilled fans for four seasons, scoring 73 league goals, many of them of the jaw dropping variety.
    He also won. Three Voyageurs Cups and a Supporters Shield were the appetizer to the ultimate prize. The 2017 MLS Cup championship.
    Dream stuff for long-time TFC fans who lived through a lot of bad football to get to that day.
    He was a Bloody Big Deal.
    And, now he's gone. Not with a bang, but rather a pout. Walking out the door in the middle of the night with an Instagram post that thanked the fans and accused the ownership of cheaping out, no longer caring about the results on the pitch.
    It's a time honoured strategy of players. A Blame the suits move. They're the bad guys that don't care about you little guys in the stands. Make sure to come out for my autograph signing in 2023. Only $50 for a photo!
    Let's be clear. Giovinco has every right to chase the paycheque. I wouldn't turn down $30m and neither would you. But, that's what's happening. Had TFC offered Giovinco the same number he'd be perfectly OK with ownership's commitment to winning. It was their evaluation of his worth that informed his opinion.
    This was always going to happen. This was a player that left Juventus to join TFC, effectively ending his chance at playing internationally again. If he was driven by glory he signs a cheaper deal with a Sassuolo, Chievo or Genoa, rips it up, and has 20 more caps for Italy by now. No one dreams of leaving Juve for Toronto.
    You only leave Juve for two reasons: for money or opportunity to advance your career further. Unless Giovinco thought his agent had misspelled Torino when he sent the offer to him he was coming to Toronto for the money.
    And, he's leaving Toronto for the same reason. It was always going to end this way.
    In terms of the football, it's going to be difficult for Toronto fans to critically evaluate whether it was right for Toronto to let him walk. Should they have matched the Saudi offer and let Giovinco retire as a TFC player?
    Well, he's 32. It's pretty much universally understood that attacking player's peak years are between 23 and 31. The decline after that can be sharp. So, Giovinco is, statistically speaking, past his prime years.
    There are outliers though. Is Giovinco trending upwards?
    His stats over last four years:
    2015 -- age 28, 34 app, 22 goals, 13 assists
    2016 -- age 29, 34 app, 21 goals, 16 assists
    2017 -- age 30, 29 app, 17 goals, 7 assists
    2018 -- age 31, 28 app, 13 goals, 7 assists
    His appearances, goals and assists figure has dropped each of the last two seasons. Doesn't seem to be out of line with statistical norms. If his production drops the same percentage this year as it did between 2017 and 2018 he would end up with between 9 and 10 goals in 2019.
    That's a quality MLS forward, but not a DP and certainly not a $10m a year DP.
    Of course it's also 10 goals TFC is going to need to replace. That's the other side of this move and one that can't be evaluated until it happens. But, by making the move today they have the DP space and money to start that process in the summer, which is generally when MLS teams make their big moves.

    Duane Rollins
    One of the first things they team you in Journalism School is that you should never put a date in your lead. The first paragraph of any story needs to grab the attention of the reader and no one gets excited by a date.
    That might explain why the Canadian Premier League didn’t lead off its press conference yesterday with the date of its first ever game.  Instead, they started by explaining how Volkswagen Canada was the league’s first major corporate partner. More on that in a minute, but to most fans they buried the lead.
    April 27, 2019 at 1pm in Hamilton, Ontario. The 905 Derby (ugh, really. You have a team of marketers and that’s what you came up with. What is it with this region and its obsession with area codes?).
    The only problem with this – if you view it as a problem – is that the game is at a time that will make it impossible for fans to go to both that game and Toronto FC’s match with Portland at 3pm.
    A few celebrate this “shot across the bow” of the CanPL against the established team. It shows intent and a failure to be fearful of Big Bad TFC.
    Far more people were puzzled. Why would you cut out thousands of potential fans be making it impossible to do both games that weekend? In time, Hamilton and York will have a solid core of fans that live and die with the team. A tiny, tiny, tiny amount do now. Until that changes it is absolutely vital that CanPL teams seek out fans that are also fans of MLS teams in Canada. This move eliminates the possibility of the curious taking a flyer on the CanPL game as well as the MLS game.
    It was preventable and it was a mistake to schedule the game in such a way.
    I argued this strongly on Twitter yesterday. Roughly 95% of the people who interacted with the Tweet agreed. Twitter is hardly a scientific tool, but it also isn’t without influence.
    It wasn’t long until the insiders were slipping into my messages to tell me that another announcement was coming soon that would make it all make sense. The implication was that this was a TV decision and that it was done to maximize the viewership there.
    After hammering back and forth with a few people today what I’ve pieced together is this: The CanPL is very close to working out a pay-to-broadcast deal with TSN. Basically, the CanPL would pay for all production and talent costs and share in advertising revenue generated during the broadcast. In exchange TSN would promote the airing of the games.
    No guarantees on editorial content beyond that, but SportsCentre sure does talk about the CFL a lot. Sportsnet, not so much. TSN has 100% of the CFL rights.
    It was even suggested that the Volkswagen deal was largely tied into the deal. Basically, the auto giant would be the title sponsor of the broadcasts.
    It’s not an uncommon relationship for a start up league and, on the surface, not the worst idea. They aren’t getting on TSN in a standard rights deal and streaming only will make it hard for them to get much traction beyond the hardcore audience that is only so big.  
    But, it’s still a bad idea to schedule games so that fans in MLS markets are forced to choose between. At best, it’s just disrespectful of fans. Ignoring that there are conflicting loyalties at play is silly and if you force a long-time TFC fan from Hamilton to pick a side he’s likely staying at BMO Field. That’s doubly the case with the York market, which already mostly identifies with being from Toronto anyway.
    So, why? Just why?
    Finally, how many fans do they hope to gain by being on TV? The industry trend is moving away from cable TV to streaming only. You’re not hitting Gen Zers with this. You’re barely hitting Gen Xers at this point.
    And even the ones you’re hitting are probably already aware of the product. TFC struggles to draw 100,000 viewers. The CanPL will be lucky to hit 20,000 regularly. And all of them would probably watch on YouTube too.
    Sometimes you need to be realistic. If what is being suggested in true then CanPL would have been better ignoring conventional TV this year, putting the product on YouTube for the hardcore (and getting some local TV deals), focusing on the in-stadium experience and then revisiting the major national media when the negotiations are on more equal terms.         

    Duane Rollins
    The Ottawa Fury appear to have lost the game of chicken that they were playing against CONCACAF and the CSA. Yesterday, the club announced that they would not be allowed to play in the US-based USL for 2019. This is despite receiving a tepid approval from the CSA in September, when they refused to become founding members of the CanPL.
    This leaves the Fury in a difficult position just four months out from the start of the season. However, according to multiple people working inside the game, they shouldn’t be surprised.
    “They knew this was possible,” one source said. “Yet, they went ahead anyway and now they are crying about being discriminated.”
    Another person went even further, suggesting that the Fury might have “half wanted (to be denied sanctioning).” The suggestion being that OSEG doesn’t really want to be involved in soccer anymore, but didn’t want to be the bad guy in fans’ eyes, least it hurt them with RedBlacks’ ticket sales.
    What happened yesterday was predicted by many. In a Sept 6 article on CSN I quoted a source suggesting that this was a distinct possibility.
    “Who is going to sanction them,” they said at the time “They may get a ‘pity’ sanction for 2019, but beyond that?”
    Another person speculated that the CSA would be reluctant to directly challenge the Fury, but would work behind closed doors to challenge the legitimacy of the club playing in a US-based league.
    “They won’t say anything publicly, but they are hoping CONCACAF steps in,” they said at the time.
    We don’t know if CONCACAF is acting on behalf of the CSA, but CONCACAF did in fact step in.
    The question now is what happens next. Most still believe a temporary sanctioning for 2019 will come through, but only with the understanding that this will be the final year it is permitted. Will the Fury continue with that understanding? For the sake of the fans, let’s hope so. But, relations between the CanPL and the Fury weren’t great already and, although there is no direct link between the CanPL and CONCACAF denying sanctioning, yesterday didn’t help the relationship improve.
    Beyond the Fury, yesterday’s decision could have a trickle down impact on Canadian soccer. If CONCACAF is to enforce the policy evenly, you would have to think that USL-2 teams (formerly PDL) will be the next to be targeted.  The rule being referenced in the Fury’s case states that no team is allowed to play in a league outside its country if a league of the same standard is available in their country. Clearly, CONCACAF has concluded that CanPL is equal to USL.
    But, is League1 Ontario and the PLSQ the same as USL2?
    It’s long been the desire of the CSA to stop teams at the D3 level from playing out of country in the hope that the provinces would step up and start D3 leagues. So far only two have, which has allowed several D3 teams to ignore that desire and play in the US.
    With the CanPL buying L1O, there is speculation that the plan is to bring that model to all parts of the country. When that happens, you would expect that the existing D3 teams be asked to return to Canada. Anyone operating a D3 team now would be wise to plan ahead with this in mind.
    Which brings us to the MLS teams. Many fans will not accept the rational that they should be exempt from this. In the interest of “fairness” it will be argued that they too should be forced to join CanPL.
    It won’t happen, but it will create some bad optics for the CSA. The reason it won’t happen now is because it’s clear that forcing TFC, IMFC and VWFC out of MLS would be negative for player development and soccer culture in the country. That would be counter to the entire purpose of creating the CanPL.
    Although many USL fans strongly disagree, that league is not viewed as having a net benefit to the country and thus is fair game here.   
    Will this eventually change? Is there a scenario where the three MLS teams are required to enter the CanPL.
    Yes. And possibly sooner than most believe.
    (That is if one or more of the Canadian MLS teams isn’t part of a bigger league by then – a league that is launched as part of the United 2026 bid and is designed to disrupt the established order of world football. But, that’s a topic for another day).   

    Duane Rollins
    It’s classic steak versus sizzle conversation. In the early days of the CanPL what’s more important? Getting the nuts and bolts of the league settled, or selling the idea of a league to those who probably aren’t reading this article?
    It’s a conversation that is clearly happening at the league office right now. And, it’s a debate that is quite clearly being won by those on the marketing side of the conversation. There have been increasingly loud groans from many in the soccer community about how the CanPL is not living up to what many hoped it would be. This is even when it is getting more attention than almost anyone thought it would. 
    Part of this is probably growing pains. There was always going to be issues with a start up league. Marketing is important to the league. But, it is often at odds with some of the things that soccer operations would want to see.
    A perfect case in point would be open try-outs that took place last summer. Billed as a legitimate opportunity for players to get looked at by CanPL coaches, most people in the soccer world viewed them as a traveling circus. The try-outs were bloated by no-hopers and avoided by anyone who seriously is looking at the CanPL.
    More than one person has told be that, at best, the open trials discovered “a couple” players that they were unaware of and have a reasonable chance to sign. Most of the Canadian players that will end up in the league were discovered through extensive scouting that has taken place over the last year. A team of scouts has created database of players that numbers over 1,000. Few of them took part in the open trials.
    From a pure soccer standpoint, wouldn’t the CanPL coaches’ time have been better spent looking at true prospects rather than hundreds of beer league stars?
    From a pure soccer perspective it isn’t debatable. Clearly, it would have.
    This is where it gets tricky. The open try outs were never about finding players. Rather, they were about exposing more people to the league. On that level it worked. At every stop on the tour the local media flocked out to do stories on this new league. More potential fans were found. That’s a positive.
    So, I fully supported doing the tour, even while knowing that very few players, if any, would emerge. The Marketing value was high enough that the soccer needs could justifiably be pushed to the backseat.
    The question is balance though. When does the Marketing start to get in the way of the soccer?
    Yesterday might have been when. In an attempt to stay in the news (for the sake of staying in the news), the CanPL rushed out its first signings. It was a mixed bag of players -- decent enough prospects, mostly, with a couple vets and one potential star in Kyle Bekker. But, it was hardly a group that was going to generate much buzz outside of the hardest of the hardcore (who mostly already knew Kyle Bekker, the only player that might grab a headline, was going to Hamilton).
    The result was a tad underwhelming. A quick Google News search turns up a tiny amount of traction. The same blogs that were talking about the league last year are still talking about it today, but this was hardly leading off SportsCentre.
    It’s probably fair to suggest that the signings had limited harm. These were mostly guys that will battle for time – the big splashes won’t come until January at the earliest.  What’s troubling though is it was an example of the tail wagging the dog. There was no reason to announce signings now. They simply wanted to hit a news cycle and by putting an artificial schedule on it they might have rushed decisions on players that could prove to be the wrong fit once the real business begins.
    Generally by the time it’s clear that there is a problem it’s almost too late to fix it. If you nip it at the first evidence of it happening you can control things a lot better.
    There is a bit of evidence that the CanPL is starting to think of itself as a marketing company more than a soccer league. They’d be wise to remember that if the product is bad the consumer isn’t going to buy it, even if it’s wrapped up in a pretty bow.
    Marketing remains vital to the success of the league. But, with just five months to launch it’s time for the soccer to take priority.      

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    • Another assume: If Panama was as rich as Qatar, I won't blame them to get Anguilla play with them weekly to crank the damn points all the way up.  If there were five more  nations were as rich as Qatar, I would love to see them doing the same way to let Mexico and USA crying in damn 7-35 hell.
    • Clanachan comments on expansion. Video is from Oct 24th, 2019 and currently has 192 views on youtube. Expansion bit starts at 2:28: https://youtu.be/VfxpFAVTbXc Summary: He doesn't sound optimistic for 2020. Biggest barrier is facilities.
    • Once you get out of the group its pretty simple to sell.  Five two-legged playoffs and you need to win all five.
    • The reasons the alternate route is not good over many reasons is basically I think everyone involved including, us, players, media etc are just completely over Canada playing all these tiny countries. We're trying to sell this to everyone and now we have 2 more years of slogging thru this. It's enough already It's definitely leaves no room for a banana peel but I think we'd likely make at least the interconinental either way. But if I have to watch Canada v St Vincent Grenadine in front of 8000 people at BMO field im gonna puke
    • Because it was at home, now you are on the road and you are damn sure the USA was going to do things different with a different roster.  The adjustments herdman made for the first game worked..he tried to craft a gameplan to match the opponent and situation for game 2 and we got ****** by a bad bounce minutes into the game.  And from there on they couldnt get it back and I blame that on too few games, not enough real tests for this team in the last few years.   
    • I will take it if both happened.😋😋  
    • Haiti fights Costa Rica to a draw. Haiti is too far back in terms of points for this to matter. Costa Rica's FIFA ranking won't drop that much. Honduras beats Trinidad & Tobago as expected. Honduras can't fall out of the top 6 in terms of FIFA ranking points now. It really comes down to El Salvador vs the Dominican Republic &/or the USA somehow being absurdly bad against Cuba.
    • I didn’t mean to imply that the 14-16 games was guaranteed - it is just the number we would get if we go the distance in the process.   Like I said - I think we get through to the semis without worrying too much, assuming the QF knockout round is seeded.  That means we should get 10 games at least - 6 if we are in a group of 4, and then 2 each in QF and SF.   The opposition is def weaker, but they are at least meaningful games.  And there is the potential for a solid number of games against good opposition if we go far enough. QF, SF, F, and intercontinental playoff would be 8 potential games against decent opposition.   Just trying to look on the bright side.  
    • Mathematically speaking it’s actually 4 to 16 games. We are far from guaranteed 14 games. Especially since I feel like the group of teams outside the top 6 may be the strongest it has ever been. Panama, Curaçao, Haiti, Guatemala, and to a lesser extent T&T are all quality teams. It would be a huge shock for us to not win our group (since presumably it will be seeded), but the QF could be against one of those teams and then it’s certainly possible we stumble at that step. Haiti and Curaçao have tied Costa Rica 3 times in 4 games in the Nations League, not to mention Haiti finishing ahead of Costa Rica in the Gold Cup group stage and then beating us in the QF. And Curaçao finished ahead of 2 would-be hex teams (Honduras and El Salvador) in the Gold Cup group stage as well. The hex would guarantee 10 games all more high profile than any we would have in the lower route save for the inter continental playoff or game with the 4th hex team, if we are to make it that far. It wouldn’t be easy by any stretch, but give me the hex any day.
    • The draw for the inter-confederation play-offs was held as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw. For WC2026, Unlike previous tournaments, it was agreed that there will be no general preliminary draw, with various draws to be held separately due to "a different timeline" for various confederations. So, the suspension could be a long lasting one until end of 2021.
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