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    By: Duane Rollins
    Let’s start this by making something abundantly clear: No one – literally no one – wants the CanPL to fail.  
    Not me, not you, not the players, not the MLS teams, literally no one. We waited far too long for a league of our own and only want it to be successful.
    The CanPL is the ultimate underdog story. It shouldn’t work. In fact, many people told us it wouldn’t work. Yet, here it is.
    That love, combined with the league’s try-hard status, makes people feel the need to protect the league from criticism. It’s as if any negative word is going to cause the whole thing to come tumbling down.
    That’s a dangerous attitude, as independent and engaged media is both a sign of a league’s health, as well as being useful to driving the league to make improvements to areas where they are failing.
    So, if you are uncomfortable with negative information about the league becoming public you should give that some thought. Those of us that are hard on the league are doing it from a place of love.
    As stated, no one wants to the league to fail.
    Caveat to justify what I’m about to write out of the way…
    The CanPL has a money problem. And, it’s far worse than anyone thought it would be when this thing launched. To be clear, I’m not talking about there being a danger of the league folding. The owners went into things with an understanding that they would lose money for a few years. Getting it to 2026 and seeing a World Cup bump after is what the league is working towards and there is no indication that they won’t get there.
    However, a lot of the players currently in the league will not. That is, they won’t without a significant bump in the average pay. Without that, you will see a lot of younger players shooting their shot for 1-2 years before “retiring” to pursue jobs that won’t require them to eat Kraft Dinner every night with their 6 roommates in a 550sqft apartment.
    A couple pieces of news today really drove that home. First was the announcement that Island Games standout Aboubacar Sissoko forgoing a return to Halifax to instead go to the USL to play for Indy 11. It was reported that Halifax made a decent offer, but it is also clear that Indy could afford to make a better one.
    But, the real kicker came later in the day when Valour’s Dylan Carriero announced his retirement. At just 26, it’s awfully young to be stepping away from the game when there isn’t an injury involved. However, Carriero went to university and with a top end salary in CanPL for a player at Carriero’s level, at best, $35,000 it suddenly it becomes very difficult to justify putting off “getting a real job.”
    And, that’s the best case figure. In talking to several players over the past few months, I’ve learned of some truly terrible salary figures. As always, the league is tight lipped about the money, but the numbers I consistently hear are as follows:
    ·       U-Sport player: $10,000
    ·       Domestic rookie: $10,000 to $12,500
    ·       Player with some previous pro experience:  $15,000 to $20,000
    ·       Established player: $18,000 to $25,000
    ·       Star domestic player: $30,000 to $35,000
    ·       International player $35,000 + Housing
    As with any list like this there will be some outlier numbers on either end, but by in large those are the ranges that I have heard. (Note to the league: I’m happy to print any disputing figures that you wish to send.)
    Look, everyone understands that this is a start-up league and no player was deluded into thinking that they were going to get rich playing in the CanPL.  They are chasing their dreams and are more than willing to accept salaries that are reasonably modest in exchange for the opportunity to play their way into a better salary, either in the league, or elsewhere.
    It’s also understood that the CanPL is always going to be a league with a high churn level. Players are either going to move on or move up pretty quickly. However, the players do feel that it’s reasonable to expect a living wage. A significant amount of the league is not on that.
    Sure, you might be able to live on that money for a year or two in your early 20s while you scratch the itch of trying to be a pro player. But, at those numbers – even at the higher end – it is very difficult to justify staying on for much longer that that. In practical terms, that means it’s going to be nearly impossible for a “lifer” class to emerge in CanPL.
    As I’ve written before, having players that make up the core of teams and stay for several years is vital to the long-term success of the league. You need older players, like Carriero, to push and challenge the prospects that everyone is excited to see. As much as fans want to see the young guns, that middle class is arguably more important to cultivate.
    And that won’t happen without an increase in salary.
    It won’t be easy – no one is suggesting it will – but to start that process the league needs to first acknowledge that the need exists. Since they won’t even recognize the Professional Footballers Association Canada right now, it’s unclear if they can take that tiny step to acknowledge the problem.  
    And, you know what they say: The first step is always to acknowledge that you have a problem…

    The evolution of pro soccer in the nation’s capital will take a new step forward on February 11th with the new Canadian Premier League club backed by Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. From there, owners and key figures in the club will have as little as three weeks to get a manager, coaches and a full roster of players ready for pre-season camp, which is scheduled to start at the beginning of March for other CPL clubs. In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s squeaky-bum time for those building Atletico Ottawa.

    Many of the league’s top players and prospects have already signed elsewhere in the league, and much of the former Fury roster has found new clubs in both the CPL and USL, but there are still many players Atletico Ottawa can to look at and potentially sign before the regular season kicks off in April. The roster will likely include some loan players from the Atletico program, as well as some L10 and PLSQ players, however there is also a chance for Atletico Ottawa to pick up some fairly well-known names in the Canadian Soccer community. Here are five players that I think Atletico Ottawa brass should seriously consider making their first grouping of signings.
    Find the list & analysis on the NSXI Network.

    The Canadian soccer landscape is going through a serious metamorphosis. The last decade has seen the launch of regional Division 3 leagues Première Ligue de Soccer du Québec and League 1 Ontario in 2012 and 2013 respectively. In 2019 the Canadian Premier League played its first season. For male soccer players wishing to play professionally, these are encouraging developments. Prior to the existence of these leagues, the odds were significantly stacked against players trying to make the leap from youth to professional as the gap in playing level was simply too large.
    It is a gap that long time soccer broadcaster and current Marketing and Communications Officer for BC Soccer Peter Schaad knows all too well. Over much of the past year, Schaad and his BC Soccer cohorts have been working steadily to address that issue for BC players.
    The idea of a Division 3 regional league like PLSQ and L1O was included in BC Soccer’s 2016 strategic plan. However at the time the ‘Regional Tier 3 League’ as it was called gained insufficient interest from potential participating clubs and the idea was shelved. But the start of the Canadian Premier League breathed new life into BC League 1 and it was revived.
    Read more on the NSXI Network.

    Langley-born Joel Waterman officially made history on Tuesday afternoon, as he became the first player to make the jump from the Canadian Premier League to Major League Soccer, joining the Montreal Impact for a fee reported to be in the $100k region. Waterman also became the first player sold by a CPL team for a transfer fee, giving us an example of how beneficial the new Canadian first division can be for young footballers in this country.
    Despite being the only player to make the jump to MLS so far, Joel Waterman wasn’t necessarily considered one of the best players in the CanPL. In fact, OneSoccer ranked him just 43rd on their year-end list of the top 50 players in the league. Waterman has many strong qualities though, and if an MLS team was convinced by his quality, then maybe he was somebody we were overlooking all season long.
    Let’s take an in-depth look at what Waterman does and doesn’t bring to the table for the Montreal Impact:
    His versatility is very impressive, and is certainly one of the main reasons Montreal signed him.
    Joel Waterman is a centre-back first and foremost, and while he can play other positions on the pitch, his versatility within the centre-back position on its own is rather impressive. As you know, there are multiple different formations used regularly in all levels of football, and pretty much all of those formations use either 2 centre-backs (a back 4) or 3 (a back 3). The roles played by centre-backs in these 2 formations vary quite a bit more than you’d expect, as do the areas of the pitch that they cover.
    Read more on the NSXI Network

    Thomas Nef has an indepth interview with Adam Hemati, an Iranian-Canadian who plays as a midfielder for Iranian club Persepolis. Learn his story.
    Available in both audio & video formats for your convenience.
    Find it here: https://www.northernstartingeleven.com/canucks-abroad-interview-series-episode-2-with-adam-hemati/

    Ottawa Fury announced last week that they have decided to suspend operations following issues regarding their CONCACAF sanctioning for USL in 2020. There is much to debate about decisions by those involved, however I  want to take this opportunity to look back at the 16 years that Ottawa Fury were operating in the capital region, and all the Canadian players, coaches and managers that this club gave opportunities to, and helped guide along the way.
    Ottawa Fury began in 2003 through John Pugh (current Canada Soccer Association board member), bringing women’s soccer to the capital region in the form of a USL W-League. Between 2003 and 2014, the Ottawa Fury W-League team managed to win nine division titles, made the national finals on three occasions and were league champions once. Over the course of its eleven seasons the W-League team featured such players as Kadeisha Buchanan (now with Lyon and the Canada women’s side) as well as Ashley Lawrence (currently with Paris Saint Germain and also the Canada women’s side).  
    Read more on the NSXI Network.

    On Canucks Abroad with Thomas & Juan, our host interviews Canadian Soccer Players from around the world.
    In this inaugural episode, Thomas interviews Aramis Kouzine, who played a year of futsal with CSKA, was cut from Philadelphia Union, and now plays in the Ukrainian Premier League.
    Catch the whole episode & subscribe on the NSXI Network.

    They are building a league. None of it existed before. It is easy for fans and followers to lose sight of what was so obvious only a few short months ago. Now people are paying attention to players, coaches, teams, formations, and results. But the challenge of winning games, learning your trade as a player or coach, or making tactical adjustments is undergirded by a league infrastructure which has an entire set of its own challenges, difficulties, and pitfalls. From marketing the teams to broadcasting the games to running your venue on game day, everywhere one turns there is a new challenge for the Canadian Premier League. And each of the teams face hurdles to overcome that are unique to their context.
    For Cavalry FC, their contextual challenges have included weather, transportation, and stadium creation. Their home base at Spruce Meadows required a significant amount of construction to get ready for this season including the construction of a large grandstand. Ian Allison, president and COO of Spruce Meadows Sports and Entertainment describes how the combination of weather and construction combined to negatively impact their playing surface.
    Read more on the NSXI Network.

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    • I have watched him quite a bit and his defensive play reading the game and sealing off passing plays has improved significantly. The biggest compliment that I can give him is one that would make him the perfect pìtch person for the BC Lotteries Corporation:  know your limit, play within it.  He plays to his strengths and tries to mitigate his weaknesses, not unlike Osorio.
    • It's just creating a fake new competition out of nothing with no meaning.  It's not even about the format or the teams.  I feel the same about the CONCACAF Nations League where the only part of it people care about it is the ranking impact for World Cup qualifying, the thing that actually matters.  Fake competitions are just getting created out of thin air to kill time in the long wait between the real competitions that actually matter. If the World Cup cycle was shortened to three years (my personal preference) then none of this other stuff would be necessary.  Players would get a summer off, there would be a free summer for the Women's World Cup, the Gold Cup would no longer happen in the middle of WCQ, and the three years is still long enough for people to miss it.  It bothers me that the debate is always 2 or 4.   ------------- As for UEFA walling themselves off, FIFA is not the only party with ulterior motives.  20 years ago, UEFA's only commercial involvement in international football was running the short 23 day, 16 team version of the Euros.  All other international football in Europe was owned and controlled by the individual national associations including qualifiers with plenty of time and agency to play games against the rest of the world.  Gianni Infantino was the business mind at UEFA during a period of change.  He first convinced all countries to come together and package all TV and commercial rights  through UEFA as a single seller, essentially seizing control of the qualifiers as a property.  Next was the Nations League, owned and controlled by UEFA.  In spite of the claims it was "just to replace friendlies", it was really an attempt to seize commercial and political control of ALL international football played by UEFA members and crown champions every year except one (the World Cup year).  Between the ensuing expansion of the Nations League to 6 group games and expansion of the Euro to 31 days, UEFA has created a walled off commercial ecosystem where every game their members play outside of the World Cup is centrally managed by UEFA through their own competitions and commercial agreements.  In other words, they've created an empire worth billions.   A biennial world cup threatens all of that because this is ultimately a zero sum game. Sponsors and broadcasters do not have bottomless pockets.  Doubling the frequency of the World Cup means billions more will flow to FIFA that would have otherwise flowed to UEFA for their own competitions.  Add to that, when the discussion comes to devaluing tournaments, UEFA knows deep down that the Euro would be devalued even more than the World Cup and would be at risk of getting the "off-year" stigma that could lead to weakened sides.  Once that happens, it's game over.  They would also have to scrap the Nations League and all of the commercial agreements they have signed for it. This coming summer, UEFA is forcing all members to play no less than 4 UEFA Nations League matches before the early start of next season, the same match load as a round of 16 run at a major tournament.  Italy has it the worst. After playing deep into July last year for the Euro, they had to play the covid year Nations League final 4 including a 3rd place game last month, and this coming summer will have to play the new intercontinental championship match against Argentina that UEFA just agreed to in their political alliance.  That plus the 4 Nations League games.  This after Ceferin stood on the moral high ground about players needing summers off.  But of course these games are all controlled by UEFA so all of a sudden it's not a problem. Getting to the point, UEFA is not just some moral arbiter out to protect the sanctity of the game.  They're out for themselves just like FIFA.  When they say they "prefer" 4 years or they "care about player rest", look at the hypocrisy of the statements and all of the commercial and political power they stand to lose by ceding calendar space and money to a rival entity.  This isn't two parties debating the merits of the tournament timing, it's a gunfight for money and control.    
    • lol big truck driving on the field spraying large amounts of water...this is gonna be interesting
    • I think part of the issue with Teibert, at least for those of us who have watched him for 10 years, is that he's been played out of position for at least 6 or 7 of those 10 years. He's not a left back or wingback, or wide forward. He's a central midfielder. You're right that he has no one great attribute, though he defends better than I think you or others give him credit for.
    • The Bernardo Silva song is way better for Alphonso.
    • Yeah, people say that, but they don't seem to believe it unless it's positive.
    • Form is temporary, class is permanent.
    • I don't like how we use the word 'Form' sometimes... it kinda implies that a guy who plays 2 good games is suddenly that player and not the one we've seen for the past 10 years.   This is gonna come off as me hating Teibert no matter what I say, but I just don't see it. He still just... doesn't do much. I need way more evidence before I'm convinced a 28-year old is a different player, and one goal doesn't change that. He gets a lot of playing time, but I feel like every other midfielder offers a skillset we could use at some point in a game. Say Fraser is a 6/10 at progressing the ball and a 3/10 on defense. Piette is like a 8/10 tackler and quietly improving as a passer.    Teibert is just 4/10 at everything. It hurts to say, but it's been my impression every time I've watched him He seems like a great leader, but that just isn't enough. 
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