Floro has talked tough in past, but can he twist arms to help the Olympic roster?

UnknownCanadian men’s national-team coach Benito Floro has bared his teeth a couple of times over the past year.

He’s lamented how MLS teams do their best to prevent Canadian players from being called up for national team duty, while American stars are always made readily available, no matter how meaningless the friendly (CLICK HERE).

He’s expressed his disappointment in the Canadian MLS teams, when it comes to how they’re doing when it comes to giving minutes to Canadian players (CLICK HERE).

Now, we might see if the barks end up with a bite. Canada will play its round-robin games in the Olympic qualifying tournament Oct. 1-6. There will, no doubt, be a camp before that. Floro spoke about the tournament on Tuesday and, through quotes released by the Canadian Soccer Association, we see he’s already prepping for fights with quite a few MLS clubs.

“We are expected to know soon if coaches from European and MLS clubs are going to allow us our players to at least attend all the games and whether it’s possible for them to attend the pre-tournament camp,” Floro said. “We trust that the Canadian USL teams are going to allow players to attend the camp and in all the games. If clubs don’t allow several players to attend the games, it will be much more difficult for us. We hope the clubs will allow all the players with us.”

Since the tournament will be held on American soil, the focus will be more on the MLS clubs than the European clubs when it comes to releasing players. The tournament would require players to make short flights to Kansas City for the opener.

Floro has already expressed his displeasure at his relationship with MLS teams. He’s stressed how few Canadian players get minutes from Canadian MLS teams. Will that put the MLS clubs in between rocks and hard places? For example. if the Whitecaps aren’t starting young Canadians, how could they refuse if Floro wanted them for Olympic duty? A refusal would smack of hypocrisy. The same standard could be applied to the Impact, who aren’t in the habit of starting Canadians.

Of course, Cyle Larin, all of 20 years of age, would be the most interesting wild card of all — and he doesn’t play for a Canadian MLS team; he plies his trade for an American MLS side. Does Orlando City want to lose the forward for the tournament? Of course not. But should there be significant pressure on the club to let Larin go? If the program wants him, there should be. And it should come from MLS itself.

And, while Floro didn’t mention the NASL in his quote, it’s worth noting that the teams in that league arguably under more big-game pressure in October than the MLS teams will. The NASL overall table is very close at the moment, and only four teams make the post-season in that league — compare that to MLS, where more than half the league makes the playoffs. October NASL games are more meaningful than October MLS matches.

When we see the Olympic roster, we’ll see of Floro’s been able to back his tough words with the ability to twist arms.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.