Duane Rollins has a post up on the state of union in Major League Soccer following the “liberalization” of the homegrown rule at the start of the season which allowed MLS clubs to field an unlimited number of homegrown players, and relays some interesting numbers on playing minutes for youth development prospects at various MLS clubs.
Rollins, who helps man the ship at Canadian Soccer News, has long thrown his hand in the anti-forced competitive parity crowd in MLS, something I in principle support except where it threatens the long term financial well-being of the league as a whole (I am a soccer commie). But if we’re not going to make some teams better than others by freeing up individual clubs to spend more on players (short term thinking), allowing them to reap the rewards of a solid youth development set-up seems the next best thing.
But Rollins really nails it when he writes:
Most notably for readers of this site, the Canadian teams already appear to be heavily relying on the rule. It makes sense. Roster restrictions and the reluctance of some American players to play in Canada makes it imperative that Vancouver, Toronto and, moving forward, Montreal, have a strong development system in place that is graduating players every year. The early returns are good. Most are aware of Vancouver’s long established residency program, but that TFC has already produced a senior international for Canada is impressive. Every indication is that Montreal will not want to be left behind (and the French fact of Quebec might make a strong academy even more important for the Impact than it is for the other two Canadian sides).
Many (yours truly included) have long derided piggybacking Canada’s player development on the back of our three MLS clubs, but the current arrangement seems unambiguously ‘win-win.’ Yes, the Canadian quota is a measly (and realistic) three per team, but like Duane points out, Canadian teams are also handicapped by being located in a country
with universal healthcare and level-headed banking regulations that isn’t the US. Homegrown players could not only help circumnavigate the whole “Canada” problem, but give us a competitive edge as well.
And in turn help the Canadian national team. This isn’t some fantasyland like prospect. TFC has already produced a national team player in Ashtone Morgan. There will be others, hopefully enough that we might start to worry about giving them all enough competitive minutes in a second division league in this country (that discussion is for another day).