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  • Canadian soccer – the year ahead


    Eight things we long-suffering followers of the beautiful game in the Great White North need to see in 2010:


    1) Major corporate sponsorship for the Canadian men’s soccer team. CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli knows you can’t finance World Cup runs on a fraction of the registration fees ponied up by amateur soccer players. He and the whole world outside of Metcalf Street agree on this. With the economy brightening and a World Cup year dawning, it’s time to bag the elephant. I want to see Montopoli, head coach Stephen Hart and a delighted corporate president, grinning in front of a giant mock-up cheque, by St. Patrick’s Day at the latest.

    2) Quick resolution to the USL-1/NASL-2 dispute. The USSF has given both sides a week to find a compromise. The blogosphere is ripping this as indecisive inaction. I think it’s a thoughtful, measured move – which should have happened two months ago, but it’s too late to cuss about that now. Scotch-tape-and-string together a one-year compromise, and make the split permanent next fall.

    3) MLS expansion to Montreal. A done deal, according to my pal and colleague Ben Rycroft, and I have no tangible reason to doubt him. But an official announcement would be lovely.

    4) At least ten international matches for the Canadian men. The CSA is whispering/shouting/mumbling about playing every designated day on the FIFA international calendar. We all know that won’t happen, so let’s just hit most of them. And get a major draw – Italy, Portugal, England – on the gleaming new grass at BMO Field. And make sure the private boxes are filled with corporate CEOs with money to spend on something happening and cool.

    5) A second Designated Player in MLS. The current single DP remains a huge cap hit, and the three teams that have won championships in the DP era (Houston ’07, Columbus ’08, Seagull City ’09) didn’t have one. A second DP – with either a split cap hit or (ideally!) no cap hit at all – could quickly ease the choking over-parity in Our Little League, without causing too much unaffordable inflation in the overall player pool. And it could be vital in keeping Dwayne DeRosario happy at Toronto FC, now that Julian DeGuzman is making bigger trips to the bank.

    6) The Vancouver Whitecaps continuing to do everything right. I’m starting to feel that even if the ‘Caps don’t have a league to play in, they’ll still keep building just fine for next year’s MLS debut. Play some friendlies with the Portland Timbers. Invite Seattle and Toronto in for matches. Invent some cornball yet compelling reason to play the Montreal Impact every month or so. Host some minor international sides! Montreal took on Haiti (0-0 draw) and Syria (2-1 win!) at Stade Saputo last July. Vancouver can do that – and more.

    7) A Voyageurs Cup tournament, even if there’s no league for Montreal and Vancouver. Okay, maybe it’s unofficial. Maybe the winner (other than Toronto) doesn’t get to play in the CONCACAF Champions League. It’s still important to play the games, because this competition matters. Especially after the strange way last year’s tourney ended, with the Whitecaps sitting rain-drenched in the seats while the Impact B-team lost 6-1 to TFC.

    8) Toronto FC in the playoffs. Yeah, they missed by one point, and the team they beat in the second-last game squeaked in ahead of them, and won the whole bun-feed. We all know it wasn’t that simple. It took naïve coaching, bad discipline, fifteen late goals-against and a midfield-heavy roster void in strikers, wingers and centre backs to not get that point. That and a 0-5 loss in the rain in Joisey, which proved the need for a new captain more than any of the many other things you could actually point to. May new coach Preki be the ass-kicking bastard this town so urgently needs.

    That’s my wish list. What’s on yours?


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