Toronto FC isn't exactly right to be publicly criticizing the CSA's seeming refusal to allow the club to keep two of the four national team call-ups an additional day.
It's an honour to have players called to a national team and the Reds benefit from the association.
However, Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen aren't wrong to be frustrated either. The truth is they are being forced to play a meaningful game with four players missing. That their opponent isn't missing any and, in fact, gets to keep its one important Canadian, makes it even more understandable that they'd be pissed.
So, no one should be surprised that both Payne and Nelsen lashed out through the media today when they claimed that the CSA is happy to take TFC's help, but not so quick to provide assistance of its own.
Equally unsurprising is the reaction to the reaction, with most Canadians taking a black and white approach -- either TFC is having a temper tantrum or the CSA in being unreasonable.
Few, if any, people are attacking the real villain here: Major League Soccer.
The game falls within the five day window that teams are required to release their players for in a continental championship. Yet, the possibility of moving the game to a time where it did not adversely affect the competitive integrity of the contest does not appear to even have been considered. Since TFC was refused in a request to move a game in 2008 in similar circumstances, one can safely assume that MLS does not allow such things.
So, to be clear, MLS is a league that lets teams move fixtures to accommodate the needs of big European clubs to play friendlies, but won't move a game where one of the two sides has nearly 20 percent of its roster away on international duty.
Much of the reaction against TFC's reaction has fallen along partisan lines -- Whitecaps fans of the national team telling TFC to get over it is a common refrain -- but the truth is this is something that all three Canadian clubs needs to stand together on. Due to the domestic needs of the teams and the difference between the size of the American and Canadian player pool, the Canadian MLS teams are far more likely to face these types of issues. If Vancouver's promise of focusing on developing starters through their academy holds true then it could as easily be the Whitecaps facing this issue in a couple years time as it is TFC.
If MLS insists on playing games during the Gold Cup then it is just common sense that it should do what it can schedule-wise to ensure that teams aren't being punished for having internationals.
It wouldn't be hard: try and give the Canadian teams byes during the group stage of the Gold Cup and scheduling a league-wide bye near the end of the year where rescheduled games could be placed if X number of players were lost to a team due to international call-ups.
Yes, TFC should have kept this battle behind closed doors (although who knows how long they've been trying to reach a comprise) but that doesn't mean there isn't some validity in their concern. And, those outside of Toronto that wish to focus their anger solely on the Reds would be wise to remember that karma has a way of evening things out in the long run.