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Grizzly

Should Canadian MLS Teams Switch to CPL?

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Impactsupporter asked me this in the Impact thread and as I was answering I thought it would be an interesting topic on its own in regard to all the MLS teams and the opinions of their fans. My personal preference would be for the Impact and TFC and the Caps to eventually play in CPL. What are the opinions of other fans? My reasoning is below.

So do you feel that the Impact should leave MLS???

FWIW, Alex Bunbury is supposed to make his announcement the end of January re: Montreal Laval team.

 

I would be fine with the Impact moving to CPL. A lot of the hardcore Impact support would be as well judging from conversations I have had with others. By hardcore support I don't mean just supporter groups but the people who are die hard fans enough to go on road trips or show up at Frappe to watch games. I am not sure how much that would translate to more average fans though. With fewer big name players it is possible the team would be less popular and get less media coverage. On the other hand while local coverage is decent for the Impact there is very little coverage of the league as a whole and if the Canadian media gets behind CPL that could possibly change. 

My biggest problems with MLS are:

1) I dislike the league and the people running it. While I admit the high profile better league has brought some big advantages to the Impact and soccer in Canada, I can't say I am very happy with how the league is run. We previously played in a joint US-Canada league, the NASL including its previous incarnations. Those leagues had their flaws often due to being relatively low budget leagues but one still had the impression that they were being run by people who loved and cared about soccer. MLS seems to be run by capitalist businessmen who just want to make money and see soccer as purely a business. That is true to some extent in other North American leagues but at least in leagues like the NHL and NFL many of these businessmen seem to actually love the sport and there are traditions that mitigate the negative aspect of this. I think Bettman has destroyed much of what I love about the NHL but there is still some aspects of hockey culture surviving. Yes we live in a capitalist society and businesses need to make money but no one supports their team from a capitalist perspective (I love my team because it makes more money than other teams in the league) we all love our teams for other reasons such as love of the game, it represents our city or community, it represents our values. I could go down a big list of all the stupid rules that MLS has and talk about the bad reffing and other stuff but at the bottom of it I feel this is a league run by people who are not soccer fans but who saw an opportunity to make the world's most popular sport popular in the US and make a lot of money off of it.

2) It is a US league with 3 Canadian teams not a joint league between two countries. In NASL I never felt this way. Finally years too late they made the Canadian player as internationals rules not as bad as before but it is still far from optimal.  I can't deny that overall MLS has had a positive effect on soccer in this country but at the same time the Canadian teams have had a very positive effect for rescuing the MLS from a league doing poorly to one that became rejuvenated. It also seems to me that some of these positive effects for Canada were more unavoidable consequences of this as opposed to any effort on the part of MLS. I think in the long term it is better for Canadian soccer to have our own league with the big Canadian teams part of it.

3) Lack of rivalries. We are entering our 9th season in MLS and we do not have any real rivals in the league outside Toronto who would be our rivals in any league. It is not impossible to have US rivals, we had Rochester in USL and the Caps have Seattle and Portland (though this was again a rivalry established in other leagues not MLS) but after 8 years we have no rivalry with any other club other than TFC and to a very minor extent Vancouver just as another Canadian team. Canadian NHL clubs do have some American rivals because teams like the Bruins, Flyers, Red Wings have a long history and tradition but even in NHL there are a lot of bland teams with little tradition or character. MLS seems to be completely full of teams like this even in big cities relatively near to Montreal like Boston/Foxborough or the two New York/New Jersey teams. It is hard to watch games of other teams when you don't care for them. Every year we go to Frappe to watch the MLS Final but it is also clear that most people don't care who wins. I am pretty sure that even with Canadian teams far away from Montreal like say Halifax and Calgary we would care more if they were playing each other than with Atlanta and Portland.

4) From a Montreal perspective I also don't think our current ownership is running the team properly to be competitive in MLS. Unless we have a lot of changes before or during the season or a homegrown really surprises I think this is the 3rd year in a row that we can be pretty sure before the start of the season that we will miss the playoffs. As much as MLS is run by corporate guys who aren't soccer fans and just want to make money, some of them do know how to properly run a business both in terms of filling the stadium and having a winning team, ie. hiring competent people and letting them run things. Until the Impact start doing that we will continue to be a lower table MLS team even though we are upper half as far as total salary is concerned. 

I could go on with numerous other points but what are other people's opinions?  

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Interesting topic, thanks for posting. My two cents:

Canadian MLS teams create a messy landscape for soccer in this country (and N.A), but I would like to see things remain the same - at least for now. The purist in me wants nothing to do with the American system, but realistically there are some advantages to how it is all playing out.

1) Higher level of play - from a CMNT perspective, I think we undoubtedly benefit from the higher level of play MLS provides our players. Without Canadian teams, how many Canadians would be in MLS? I would bet much less than half!

With the CPL, we can now build a solid player base. I am very much looking forward to supplementing that base with the high-level MLS opportunities that Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto provide. 

2) Public perception - MLS is now part of the North American sporting landscape. You see the coverage on TSN and Sportsnet. Increasingly there is a big 5 for major league sports, not a big 4.

I think the emergence of MLS in the North America sporting landscape has been (and will continue to be) incredibly positive for the public perception of soccer in Canada, and removing the Canadian teams now would be incredibly detrimental. Us hardcores may see it as a progression, but I think the general public would see it as a regression.

Imagine the Toronto Raptors leaving the NBA and moving to the National Basketball league of Canada?

Edited by Obinna

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I'd like to see the clubs move for many of the reasons mentioned by the OP. I suppose my one caveat would be if another scenario emerged with a pan NA league with Mexico. If this league had promotion/relegation to the CPL -but this a different scenario all together.

I don't know about MLSE, but Saputo and Kerfoot are both cheap. I don't think either would have bothered with MLS if the CPL was viable at the time. They are both in a position to make a killing on their original investment if they sell and move the existing clubs to the US. The CPL would then provide a cost structure where they could be relative giants in a league more in line with their desired spending.

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My personal opinion is that I'd like to see a 12-14 team CanPL, with teams operating strategically in the Big 3* markets, but with the existing MLS teams continuing as they are. The reason for this is that I don't see CanPL reaching an equivalent playing standard as MLS for many decades, if ever.

I'm not overly hung up on pie-in-the-sky ideas like pro-rel, which seems to be an obsession with so many. I think if we can get those 12-14 teams in CanPL, each with a strong academy/development structure, to supplement what we currently have with the MLS clubs academies, we'll be in a very strong position to compete at the top of the region, even with the US and Mexico. If we can have 150-200 Canadian professionals playing in Canada, with another couple of dozen, mainly our elite level players, playing overseas, I think we'd have a realistic chance of qualifying for the World Cup regularly, blowing the Central American and Caribbean teams out of the water.

My vision has an effective 4 tiers of professional Canadian players:

1. The high-end 'amateurs' - playing in L1O, and equivalent leagues across the country. Not full-time professionals, but getting a modest pay-packet alongside their regular jobs. Striving for FT gigs in the CanPL...

2. CanPL domestic players - making up the bulk of the domestic, professional league, and earning a living wage, or better. These will be both the young, up-and-comers trying to make a career in football, as well as the seasoned professionals winding down their careers after some years playing higher up the food chain.

3. MLS domestic players - the backbone of the 3 Canadian MLS sides, getting exposure to a high level of football alongside top international talent.

4. Overseas players - the very best Canadian footballers, who have graduated from the domestic game to play in the best European or South American leagues. These are the very best that we have and they will be the ones leading us to international relevance, and then glory.

The CMNT would mostly be comprised of players from the 4th category, but will also have a handful of the best from 3 and, occasionally, a couple from 2.

 

*York 9, Forge, +1 for the GTA, Laval in Montreal, and Surrey in the Lower Mainland.

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1 hour ago, SthMelbRed said:

My personal opinion is that I'd like to see a 12-14 team CanPL, with teams operating strategically in the Big 3* markets, but with the existing MLS teams continuing as they are. The reason for this is that I don't see CanPL reaching an equivalent playing standard as MLS for many decades, if ever.

I'm not overly hung up on pie-in-the-sky ideas like pro-rel, which seems to be an obsession with so many. I think if we can get those 12-14 teams in CanPL, each with a strong academy/development structure, to supplement what we currently have with the MLS clubs academies, we'll be in a very strong position to compete at the top of the region, even with the US and Mexico. If we can have 150-200 Canadian professionals playing in Canada, with another couple of dozen, mainly our elite level players, playing overseas, I think we'd have a realistic chance of qualifying for the World Cup regularly, blowing the Central American and Caribbean teams out of the water.

My vision has an effective 4 tiers of professional Canadian players:

1. The high-end 'amateurs' - playing in L1O, and equivalent leagues across the country. Not full-time professionals, but getting a modest pay-packet alongside their regular jobs. Striving for FT gigs in the CanPL...

2. CanPL domestic players - making up the bulk of the domestic, professional league, and earning a living wage, or better. These will be both the young, up-and-comers trying to make a career in football, as well as the seasoned professionals winding down their careers after some years playing higher up the food chain.

3. MLS domestic players - the backbone of the 3 Canadian MLS sides, getting exposure to a high level of football alongside top international talent.

4. Overseas players - the very best Canadian footballers, who have graduated from the domestic game to play in the best European or South American leagues. These are the very best that we have and they will be the ones leading us to international relevance, and then glory.

The CMNT would mostly be comprised of players from the 4th category, but will also have a handful of the best from 3 and, occasionally, a couple from 2.

 

*York 9, Forge, +1 for the GTA, Laval in Montreal, and Surrey in the Lower Mainland.

Pretty much how I would love to see the future play out. I think we are on the right track.

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13 hours ago, SthMelbRed said:

My personal opinion is that I'd like to see a 12-14 team CanPL, with teams operating strategically in the Big 3* markets, but with the existing MLS teams continuing as they are. The reason for this is that I don't see CanPL reaching an equivalent playing standard as MLS for many decades, if ever.

I totally get this argument - and understand the economics - but it is also a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. It is unavoidable that the exclusion of our big 3 markets, or more accurately the dilution of them where MLS sides would effectively denigrate CPL sides as second tier where markets are shared, will limit the pace of economic growth of CPL. 

On the general issue, I see both sides. Like the OP, there are aspects of MLS that have irked me, and even the timing of the recent changes to player status seem to be a bit suspect given that it didn't happen until CPL was in the works. But I have enjoyed cheering for our teams and recognize the benefits they have brought.

Ultimately, I would love to see a CPL strong enough to support strong teams in all big markets - but I don't think a team like TFC will work in a CPL economic scale anytime soon. That is a sacrifice I personally could accept for the gain of a stronger domestic league but I definitely get why many local fans wouldn't be on board. 

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On 1/21/2019 at 4:03 AM, SthMelbRed said:

My personal opinion is that I'd like to see a 12-14 team CanPL, with teams operating strategically in the Big 3* markets, but with the existing MLS teams continuing as they are. The reason for this is that I don't see CanPL reaching an equivalent playing standard as MLS for many decades, if ever.

I'm not overly hung up on pie-in-the-sky ideas like pro-rel, which seems to be an obsession with so many. 

We need to stop the North American idea that all "franchises" must be shoe horned into the same business model. Pro Rel, even if its only two divisions, allows clubs to find their place and have something to play for. Let the MLS clubs keep their quality, this will naturally raise the level for other teams aspiring to play in the CPL. 

The Big 3 will be in title contention and playing champions league every year and that will keep interest in their markets. The second tier clubs (Hamilton etc) will look to knock them off their pedestal and the third tier clubs will be in the Pro Rel yo yo. CPL, more fun for everyone!

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It would without a doubt work and what’s to stop it from growing to be massive?  Look at the CFL - they are a vastly inferior product to the NFL.. arguably more so than the CPL will be to MLS.  But they draw and they get huge tv numbers because there’s no alternative.  Are TFC fans going to stop coming out?  No.  

Would it be an issue to Canadian fans if there were teams that dominated?  Just about every league in the world has that issue.. at least in soccer you can still compete, in (almost) any other sport it wouldn’t work.  I think the answer to that is no - teams like Hamilton and Winnipeg definitely have potential to be “big” teams, in a sort of Sevilla to Barcelona way.   And I mean if you were to have teams dominate would you not want those teams to be in the most populous regions anyway?

I always sway back and forth on this issue but there’s no doubt that having the 3 in CPL would be incredible in every way.  The only negative is losing a higher level of play and the stars it brings..  but would we really be losing out?  We would likely get more CCL spots and see top MLS and Mexican teams a few times a year.  The whole argument about having our players on MLS sides at higher levels doesn’t really make sense .. no one is stopping them look at all the other concacaf players in MLS.. never mind every other league world wide.  Ultimately our league being the best it can is the best for soccer in this country, period. 

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On 2/8/2019 at 7:50 PM, Keegan said:

It would without a doubt work and what’s to stop it from growing to be massive?  Look at the CFL - they are a vastly inferior product to the NFL.. arguably more so than the CPL will be to MLS.  But they draw and they get huge tv numbers because there’s no alternative.  Are TFC fans going to stop coming out?  No.  

 

Have you seen Argo's attendance?  They stopped coming out.  The CFL has the worst attendance in the Big 3 markets.  Here's the 2018 numbers for you:

https://3downnation.com/2018/09/18/cfl-attendance-slightly-cause-concern/

I can convince friends to come out to MLS games sometimes in Vancouver.  They never came out to USL games.  They laughed when I mentioned the CPL.  The quality of the league matters, at least to casual fans in bigger markets.

Edited by Watchmen

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The MLS teams are needed right now to give opportunities to the higher caliber CMNT players not based in Europe.  CPL will be great for allowing young and almost made it Canadians to play professionally and perhaps get to the quality where some will play on our men’s national team.  We are decades away from having the bulk of our team coming from the CPL, if ever.  Right now we need The MLS.  TFC’s payroll is north of 20 million, CPL will be 1??  Until that gap narrows significantly we need the big 3 where they are if we want Canadian soccer to improve.

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9 hours ago, Watchmen said:

Have you seen Argo's attendance?  They stopped coming out.  The CFL has the worst attendance in the Big 3 markets.  Here's the 2018 numbers for you:

https://3downnation.com/2018/09/18/cfl-attendance-slightly-cause-concern/

I can convince friends to come out to MLS games sometimes in Vancouver.  They never came out to USL games.  They laughed when I mentioned the CPL.  The quality of the league matters, at least to casual fans in bigger markets.

What are the parallels in that comparison?  For Vancouver and Toronto at least, there are two NFL franchises within driving distance.

If TFC was drawing fans to MLS in 2007 why would fans stop coming to see that same team in CPL in 2026 for instance?  Let’s imagine they have around the same quality of player except Bradley and Altidore are replaced by two guys like Kaye and Cavallini at a fraction of the cost.  Remember MLS in 2007 wasn’t even at a good level - TFC had guys like Lombardo, Goldthwaite.. but fans came out! Why was that? Likewise in Vancouver, they’ve never had a big name player or star but they outdraw CFL. 

This year will be an interesting test with no Giovinco.  I don’t think fans are going to be coming out because Bradley and Altidore are class players in world football terms. 

I don’t think the comparison between Canadians following CFL in big markets has much to do with how fans would react if their team moved leagues.  Of course, there may be the fair weather fans that write it off but on the other hand teams in big cities will likely be winning a lot more, which will drive attendance as well.  That would be especially big for Montreal and Vancouver, who don’t have much of a chance in MLS.  

Like really, if you were a fan that came out for TFC v Columbus/NE/Minnesota are you really going to be upset at a TFC v Forge matchup?  Hell no.. because clearly you’re a football fan and that’s unreal.  Also, it’s probably going to be a little cheaper and a lot more interesting. I don’t think the footy supporter mindset is as simple as “MLS is awesome..” many people who go to games don’t even rate the level to begin with.

Edited by Keegan

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24 minutes ago, Keegan said:

What are the parallels in that comparison?  For Vancouver and Toronto at least, there are two NFL franchises within driving distance.

If TFC was drawing fans to MLS in 2007 why would fans stop coming to see that same team in CPL in 2026 for instance?  Let’s imagine they have around the same quality of player except Bradley and Altidore are replaced by two guys like Kaye and Cavallini at a fraction of the cost.  Remember MLS in 2007 wasn’t even at a good level - TFC had guys like Lombardo, Goldthwaite.. but fans came out! Why was that? Likewise in Vancouver, they’ve never had a big name player or star but they outdraw CFL. 

This year will be an interesting test with no Giovinco.  I don’t think fans are going to be coming out because Bradley and Altidore are class players in world football terms. 

I don’t think the comparison between Canadians following CFL in big markets has much to do with how fans would react if their team moved leagues.  Of course, there may be the fair weather fans that write it off but on the other hand teams in big cities will likely be winning a lot more, which will drive attendance as well.  That would be especially big for Montreal and Vancouver, who don’t have much of a chance in MLS.  

Like really, if you were a fan that came out for TFC v Columbus/NE/Minnesota are you really going to be upset at a TFC v Forge matchup?  Hell no.. because clearly you’re a football fan and that’s unreal.  Also, it’s probably going to be a little cheaper and a lot more interesting. I don’t think the footy supporter mindset is as simple as “MLS is awesome..” many people who go to games don’t even rate the level to begin with.

It's not "MLS is awesome" that drives casual fans to the games.  It's the perception that "this is the big leagues of North America" that very definitely drives some fans out to it.  Just like there's fans who won't give MLS the time of day because "it's not the EPL or La Liga", there are very definitely fans who will go out to watch any MLS game over any CPL game just because they *perceive* it to be the better product.  All 3 big markets had USL teams before joining MLS and all 3 had major rises in attendance after joining MLS.  That's not coincidence. Were they to join the CPL, I'm not saying they'd drop back to USL levels but they would absolutely drop from their MLS levels.

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As an additional follow up, a lot of your argument seems to revolve around the Big 3 being able to outspend the other markets.  But unless the CPL severally alters their salary model, that's not going to happen.  There's room under a salary cap for flexibility, but I don't see the CPL allowing the Big 3 to spend to the same levels as they do in MLS and certainly not to the stage where they gain a major advantage over the other markets.  They wouldn't be replacing Altidore and Bradley with Kaye and Cavallini because they still couldn't afford Kaye and Cavallini under the cap.

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5 hours ago, Keegan said:

What are the parallels in that comparison?  For Vancouver and Toronto at least, there are two NFL franchises within driving distance.

If TFC was drawing fans to MLS in 2007 why would fans stop coming to see that same team in CPL in 2026 for instance?  Let’s imagine they have around the same quality of player except Bradley and Altidore are replaced by two guys like Kaye and Cavallini at a fraction of the cost.  Remember MLS in 2007 wasn’t even at a good level - TFC had guys like Lombardo, Goldthwaite.. but fans came out! Why was that? Likewise in Vancouver, they’ve never had a big name player or star but they outdraw CFL. 

This year will be an interesting test with no Giovinco.  I don’t think fans are going to be coming out because Bradley and Altidore are class players in world football terms. 

I don’t think the comparison between Canadians following CFL in big markets has much to do with how fans would react if their team moved leagues.  Of course, there may be the fair weather fans that write it off but on the other hand teams in big cities will likely be winning a lot more, which will drive attendance as well.  That would be especially big for Montreal and Vancouver, who don’t have much of a chance in MLS.  

Like really, if you were a fan that came out for TFC v Columbus/NE/Minnesota are you really going to be upset at a TFC v Forge matchup?  Hell no.. because clearly you’re a football fan and that’s unreal.  Also, it’s probably going to be a little cheaper and a lot more interesting. I don’t think the footy supporter mindset is as simple as “MLS is awesome..” many people who go to games don’t even rate the level to begin with.

How about we see how this league actually does before we start to have this Canadian MLS teams to CPL discussion. The CPL has not even kicked a ball yet but your constantly hammering away on this MLS Canadian teams to CPL. Obviously if the CPL were to grow to the level of the MLS then there will be a discussion I don’t doubt it. Maybe CPL teams in the 3 Canadian MLS teams will one day outdraw the the MLS teams therefore there may not be a need for those MLS Canadian teams to go over to the CPL. However, as it stands the CPL just needs to try and survive and grow and to become sustainable. If you think that the only way for the CPL to survive and prosper is by forcing the MLS Canadian teams to play in the CPL then the CPL is doomed from the start, but I’m pretty sure this is not your thought process or the CPL’s . The CPL needs to go through all the experiences a baby and I child go through before becoming an adult . Right now the CPL is a mother who is almost 9 month pregnant and about to give birth , just enjoy it like a mother and a father enjoy the anticipation of this time period and then enjoy the wonder years of watching your child experience growing up and becoming an adult, once an adult then start thinking about where you stand and maybe see if a Canadian MLS team transfer makes sense or can happen or needed , but until then just enjoy this time and concentrate on things that are really viable at this time.

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MLS needs Canadian teams more than they need that #fakeleague. Seriously, what do Canadian fans see in MLS that's worth following and supporting? It's an American league that's designed to be mediocre and gimmicky just like American soccer itself and Canada tagging along to the US is stupid. Why follow the biggest underachievers in the world that do less than countries with 1% of population and resources?

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9 hours ago, PhillyJawn-guy said:

MLS needs Canadian teams more than they need that #fakeleague. Seriously, what do Canadian fans see in MLS that's worth following and supporting? It's an American league that's designed to be mediocre and gimmicky just like American soccer itself and Canada tagging along to the US is stupid. Why follow the biggest underachievers in the world that do less than countries with 1% of population and resources?

You're too stupid to make fun of.

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17 minutes ago, PhillyJawn-guy said:

Before calling me stupid you need to learn how MLS is harming rather than helping the Canadian teams to be the best possible.

There is no shortage of knowledge here of MLS fuckery.

But we can't continue to ruminate over this.  It's all been argued before.  

We know. 

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11 minutes ago, admin said:

There is no shortage of knowledge here of MLS fuckery.

But we can't continue to ruminate over this.  It's all been argued before.  

We know. 

OK, then instead of ruminating take action on getting the 3 teams to join CPL. If they won't, then Canadian fans should completely abandon MLS. You have a true FIFA-compliant league in CPL, so what's the point of tagging along some McFranchises of a non-competitive soccer cartel that's even less "real" than WWE?

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1 minute ago, PhillyJawn-guy said:

OK, then instead of ruminating take action on getting the 3 teams to join CPL. If they won't, then Canadian fans should completely abandon MLS. You have a true FIFA-compliant league in CPL, so what's the point of tagging along some McFranchises of a non-competitive soccer cartel that's even less "real" than WWE?

Get rid of your ******* president first.

It's almost certainly easier. 

Focus on what is happening and what is possible, and not this. 

Done with this ****. 

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I'm sorry, but those of us in the USA are stuck with MLS because of a dysfunctional and corrupt fed that actively kills any competition to MLS (see the sad ending to NASL). But Canada isn't, since you're not governed by USSF. So enjoy CPL and the freedom of supporting something better and not having to live under MLS oppression.

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1 hour ago, PhillyJawn-guy said:

I'm sorry, but those of us in the USA are stuck with MLS because of a dysfunctional and corrupt fed that actively kills any competition to MLS (see the sad ending to NASL). But Canada isn't, since you're not governed by USSF. So enjoy CPL and the freedom of supporting something better and not having to live under MLS oppression.

Then work on fixing your soccer federation and leave us to our's...we don't need a bloody american to tell us what's wrong with our system.

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3 hours ago, longlugan said:

Then work on fixing your soccer federation and leave us to our's...we don't need a bloody american to tell us what's wrong with our system.

I'm not telling you how to fix Canadian soccer, but just suggesting that Canada doesn't need MLS or any US leagues. I actually think the CSA is better organized than the USSF and the US could learn a lot from Canada.

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