The Montreal Impact confirmed Thursday that it has pulled its U21 team out of the embattled Canadian Soccer League.
The CSL is planning to go ahead with its 2013 season but, with the loss of the Impact now official, the league would only be based in Ontario. Earlier this year, the team lost its official sanction as the Canadian Soccer Association looks to build a regional Division-3 model based on the Easton Report’s recommendations. The CSL is looking to fight the CSA’s decision — and is doing anything but going gentle into the goodnight.
The CSL has been in an uphill public-relations battle since a German court revealed that a Croatian match-fixing ring had fixed a 2009 match between Toronto Croatia and the Trois-Rivieres Attak —the Impact’s farm team at the time.
The CSL has publicly stated that an estimated an average of $185 million is gambled on its games in a season.
As for the Impact U21s, it will play a season of exhibition matches against NCAA programs, NASL and USL Pro teams. The Impact maintain excellent relations with the current stable of NASL owners and the MLS has recently announced an affiliation plan with USL-Pro — though it won’t be sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association. That means the Impact gets the best of both worlds when it comes to lining up USL and NASL opposition.
Some Impact U-21 players will also take part in MLS Reserve League matches.
“In order to augment the development of our players, we have decided to focus their playing time in the MLS Reserve League and the USSDA,” said Academy director Philippe Eullaffroy in a release issued by the club. “This will also allow us to better manage our roster, which will be tested with a number of our players being invited to take part in the Canada Games and the Jeux de la Francophonie. We also hope to take advantage of the recent agreement between MLS and USL Pro.”
TFC Academy is also leaving the CSL. And FC Edmonton Reserves won’t play an Alberta Major League schedule in 2013. Of course, with the three Canadian MLS teams and FC Edmonton all having academy/residency programs, the idea of a four-team tournament is a mouth-watering one. Nothing would do better to raise the profiles of all four academy programs than to have them face off against each other.