Daniel Squizzato makes the case over at Canadian Soccer News:
Right off the hop, some would take umbrage with my reference to the Whitecaps as a “representative” of Canada in this tournament; indeed, while the winner of the Voyageurs Cup is officially Canada’s representative in the Champions League, each MLS club ultimately represents nothing but itself in league competition.
Still, in a largely asymmetrical bi-national league such as MLS, it’s tough not to feel that the fates of the three Canadian clubs are — if nothing else, at least perceptually — intertwined to some extent. More to the point, the fates of the three Canadian MLS clubs are intertwined with the country’s development system and the men’s national team.
Ben Massey pushes back, and also counters the claim of Vancouver’s critics over their use of Canadians in the first team:
I’m here to give carte blanche to everyone in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Victoria, and whereever else the Whitecaps do not hold sway over your heart. Don’t cheer for us if you don’t want to. In fact, cheer against us if you like. We are of Canada, but that doesn’t mean we are Canada; a fact which has nothing to do with our lineup and everything to do with our history, our location, and the very nature of our existence.
My own take is that while these are compelling intellectual arguments in their own right, you can’t argue someone into supporting a team. I will probably faintly support a prolonged Vancouver run in the MLS Cup, but may also smile if they crash out in the first stage. Honestly at this stage I have no idea. I once vowed to support the US in their 2010 group stage match against England, and then found myself completely incapable following the opening whistle. It could go either way against the Galaxy.
Moreover, despite the importance of club football to the national game, that isn’t a compelling reason to hate Van City for not playing more Canadians. I’ve railed for a while against outsourcing responsibility for player development onto three Major League Soccer franchises with no national program in place. Blaming Vancouver for shafting youngsters with player pool as weak as Canada’s is a bit much; perhaps instead we should praise the success of some TFC academy grads all the more? Or maybe put their utility in perspective.