Canadian quotas are price USL must pay for not having Canada at the table when MLS deal was hatched By Steven Sandor Posted on September 6, 2014 14 0 1,088 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Victor Montagliani Back in 2013, Major League Soccer announced its partnership plan with (officially regarded as) third division USL-PRO. But there was a problem. It was an American agreement made with the oversight of American authorities. For MLS, which is a North American league, shutting Canada out of the process was a major problem. So, now, both MLS and USL-Pro have to reap what they have sown. As the Montreal Impact (Montreal FC), Vancouver Whitecaps (New Westminster) and Toronto FC (maybe a team north of the city) move ahead with plans for affiliate USL-Pro teams for 2015, we have learned they will be subject to pretty tough quotas. As reported by Duane Rollins in Canadian Soccer News (link here), any USL-PRO team affiliated with a Canadian MLS team will have to follow some strict roster rules. Half of the players on the squad must be Canadian-eligible, and six of the 11 starters must be Canadian-eligible. By “eligible” we mean that, if Canadian national-team coach Benito Floro made the call, that player would be available to go. The move will likely prevent teams from stashing foreign talent on their USL-PRO rosters, or treat their affiliates like true minor-league clubs. That’s fine. The Whitecaps have sent established non-Canadian pros to NASL’s FC Edmonton on loan in the past, and the two teams still have a strong relationship. Toronto FC sent Ryan Richter to the Ottawa Fury. No reason that the Fury can’t continue to build relationships with TFC and the Impact. But let’s be clear. If you want to bitch and moan about the Canadian Soccer Association legislating new rules, understand that’s the price that comes with not inviting Canada to the table when this deal was first hatched. I remember January of 2013, when the USL and MLS held a joint telephone press conference to announce their partnership. I had just spoke to CSA President Victor Montagliani, who at that time had some strong words about the deal. Basically, Montagliani had said that USL-PRO teams wouldn’t be allowed to be sanctioned separately from their parent teams in Canada. In Canada, we were busy digesting the Easton Report, which had suggested a different path for third-division soccer. When I brought up Montagliani’s stance at the USL-MLS presser, there was clear surprise. There was talk about having discussions with the CSA. And it was clear that this plan was made without any thought to Canada’s soccer-development needs. We were never at the table, and yet MLS and USL decided to create a plan that was square-pegged-into-a-round-hole on our Canadian teams. The CSA has stuck to its guns. Because, to get that sanctioning, it’s clear that the USL has given itself very little room for negotiation. But this is what happens — and frankly, what you deserve — when you leave a key player out of the room when the deal was first hatched. The USL-MLS deal was hatched with the same kind of arrogance we see when Commissioner Don Garber refers to “American” development and MMLS as an “American” league in his public announcements. Really, the PR department needs to set up a sort-of swear jar for the execs; every time they talk about MLS in an American-only context, they have to drop some change in. By the end of the year, they might have enough for a G5. We see that arrogance everywhere where MLS discussed. Heck, even the promotion-relegation proponents won’t discuss how a system would work in regards to the fact that you have two national associations. What happens in a year when two Canadian teams are slated to be promoted and two American teams go down? Or vice versa? Or do Canadian teams only replace Canadian teams? Maybe if Canada had been in on the ground floor of the USL-MLS discussions, there wouldn’t have been need for a retrofitted solution. No matter what, we can be refreshed that our domestic soccer policy is being separated from the grasp of USSF head Sunil Gulati. If CSA reform will lead us to being able to make our own rules for our own clubs — and not trying to get small concessions from USSF policy — it’s a win for us. We can see the Canadian national team’s performance since we’ve been involved in MLS. Pretty dire. It’s a scathing indictment of what having the U.S. tell us what to do will do to our soccer program.