Amid all the sexy transfer news, latest European ephemera and meaningless preseason friendlies, tucked away in the Canadian papers amid all the talk of whether Toronto FC will beat the deadline and sign this world class central defender that is apparently the lodestone to MLS Cups for the next five seasons, is this little story highlighted today in the Toronto Sun:
TORONTO – A host of U.S.-based MLS clubs are passing on current Canadian internationals due to an imbalance in league roster rules, according to officials at the Canadian Soccer Association.
The Toronto Sun has learned that despite growing interest in European-based Canadians since the 2009 Gold Cup, clubs located south of the border have had to pass on at least three Canadian national team players, two of which took part in the most recent round of World Cup qualifying, due to the international status bestowed upon Canadians playing in the U.S.
Canadian soccer insiders (so, everyone in Canadian soccer essentially) have known of this damaging flaw in MLS for years. Despite three Canadian teams playing in infrastructure purchased in part by all three levels of the Canadian government for the good of the sport in this country, Canadian players are treated exactly the same way as players from the opposite side of the planet. Should Canada ever produce more than three first teams worth of talent (in theory, down the road, of current long term player development strategies are effectively put in place in all the provincial associations), we’re SOL in the rest of the league.
That means that despite all the smiley-faced hope that Major League Soccer could provide Canada a domestic league “by other means,” the roster rule presents the unmoveable bedrock for MLS as a development model in the Canadian game. Is there a possibility the rule might be changed? Some believe US immigration policy says no. From the same article:
Information obtained from two separate MLS clubs pointed to U.S. immigration policy as being the defining issue in terms of roster regulations.
Although Canadian immigration rules are more relaxed on the matter, American employers aren’t allowed to give preferential treatment to the citizens of any one nation — which could be partly to blame for the roster rules.
And anyone intimate with US immigration policy will know that any changes involving a relaxation rather than tightening of the existing rules will involve moving a boulder uphill. It’s a political no-go, and so even Don Garber (or Sunil Gulati for that matter) will have precious little leverage in satisfying Canadian (‘foreign’) interests.
Full disclosure: I am currently assisting on the final phase of a study commissioned by the Canadian Soccer Association to look at the viability of ‘third option,’ as it were: a domestic league model in Canada. While I can’t release details on the final report, fans of Canadian soccer and those wanting improvements to the current development model should understand that while MLS isn’t going anywhere, it cannot be of itself the answer to the problem of providing an opportunity for domestic players to play the game here at home, rather than pine for a chance in Europe or in the US with an MLS team based here or in the US.
To put it crudely, if we’re serious about being a player in the international stage at some point, we need to shit or get off the pot, albeit in a way that’s sustainable and geared toward the purpose of developing promising young players. MLS isn’t going to do that difficult work for us.
BREAKING: Junior Hoilett officially signs for QPR.
While you’ve got these meta issues in mind, read this excellent take on Canada’s search for a technical director.
The latest is Toronto FC have signed goalkeeper Freddy Hall from some Bermuda team.
Some more impressive YouTubage from the Montreal Impact.
Fabio Capello sticks the knife in the FA once again, complaining they were in breach of contract over John Terry. The bridge, the bridge, the bridge is on fire.
Arsenal could beat Spurs to the signature of Real Madrid’s Nuri Sahin.
West Ham lodge 18 million pound bid for Andy Carroll.
Emmanuel Adebayor wants Manchester City to pay him 5 million pounds. JUST BECAUSE.
Inter omit out-of-favour keeper Julio Cesar has been omitted from the Europa League squad because he is now persona non grata.
Names released in Calcioscommesse investigation.
Juventus no longer want Robin van Persie. It was a passing fancy.
The latest in Bundesliga transfers.
Uncertainty continues to surround Malaga.
Bits and bobs
Manchester City future news.
Raith Rovers, Kings of Europe (in 1922).
And that, give or take, is the story so far…