Philadelphia Union v DC United - Disney Pro Soccer Classic

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert on this, so I will point you in the direction of the work of Ben Rycroft (reporting) and Steve Sandor (explaining) on the recent efforts of the Canadian Soccer Association in pushing Major League Soccer recognize Canadian players as domestics and not internationals.

Why is this important? Because US teams have limited slots for international players, which leaves prospective Canadian players left to fight their way into one of three MLS sides here in Canada. The rest, at this point, are SOL unless they’re good enough to merit an international slot on a US team.

Sandor has a great take on the nature of the legal grey area on this issue, noting that USL Pro teams do, in fact, treat Canadian players on US teams as domestic players. Sandor writes that it’s unclear whether it’s truly a labour issue, particularly as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which covers labour equity told him it was a matter more appropriate for the Department of Immigration and Homeland security.

There are all sorts of interesting hypotheticals and quandaries in this, and Sandor touches on a few. I would only add this: I would strongly urge those who think opening up domestic slots for Canadian players on US MLS teams would promote player development here to think again. MLS is a the top tier professional league; it should be the repository of an already existing talent pool developed by a national curriculum and national league, neither of which Canada has yet to effectively implement. Without these, Canada is essentially any decent talents to move south of the border sooner than later. With that comes the threat of a talent-drain, which could have consequences for the national team.

Should MLS eventually change the rules, it would also be in the CSA’s best interests to work to possibly shrink or eliminate altogether the Canadian player quota on Canadian teams. The reason, as Sandor points out, is that Canadian players, if considered domestics in the US, could be used as bargaining chips by US teams, and sold above market value for desperate Canadian teams.

Anyway, things to think about…