Home Canadian Soccer Power Rankings Introducing our new quintessentially Canadian MLS power rankings

Introducing our new quintessentially Canadian MLS power rankings


Long-time Canadian international Iain Hume had an interesting take on Saturday’s “Canadian” MLS season-opener at BC Place between the Whitecaps and Toronto FC.

In a tweet delivered just as the game kicked off, Hume used the #farce hashtag to sum up his feelings about the game. With each team starting just one Canadian — Russell Teibert for the Whitecaps and Jonathan Osorio in TFC red — Hume wanted his followers to know he wasn’t happy.

But, looking at the rosters throughout MLS, you can’t help escape the feeling that Hume could tweet out #farce week after week. And, in the spring issue (#5) of Plastic Pitch, we’re going to take a cold, hard look at the leagues we share at the United States and how we’re treated. The issue, which will be out later in March, will ask the hard question: Does being in MLS or NASL or NWSL really benefit Canadian soccer?

And, in keeping with that theme, we’re going to launch a new sorta power-rankings system. Sure, most power rankings are just throwaway click-bait; the kinda of mind-numbing stuff we promise ourselves we’ll never have to write again each time we bang one out.

But this one is different. Throughout the year, we’re going to rank MLS teams (and NASL, too, once the season starts in April) on how many minutes they give to Canadians. We’re not going to wax poetic about U-23 teams or developmental sides; for Canadian soccer to move forward, we need to see players regularly moving from developmental squad to first team, not just more and more Bryce Aldersons (and, look for our interview with Alderson in issue 5 of Plastic Pitch). We also don’t really care that some teams might have a Canadian warming the bench. To benefit our national program, we need our players getting first-team minutes.

So, let’s look at the rankings after week 1 of MLS action. The number on the right is the total number of minutes played by Canadians this season. So far, no MLS team has played more than one Canadian per game.


FC Dallas 90

Philadelphia Union 90

Toronto FC 90

Vancouver Whitecaps 64

All other teams tied at 0


Important notes: Ethan Finlay did play 90 minutes for Columbus; but, despite interest from our national side, he has not indicated that he will play for Canada. If this changes, the minutes played ranking will be changed to reflect that.

Tesho Akindele has gone to a U.S. camp, but the Calgary-born forward has said he hasn’t ruled out Canada. Since there are still overtures being made, he is counted, for now. But, again, the minutes will be adjusted if Akindele commits to the U.S. program. I’ve also counted Steven Vitoria, who was born in Toronto but represented Portugal as a youth. But there have still been overtures about him playing for Canada.



T1. Tesho Akindele 90

T1. Jonathan Osorio 90

T1. Steven Vitoria 90

4. Russell Teibert 64


SPECIAL MENTION: This has to go to the Montreal Impact, which has now gone through two CONCACAF Champions League legs and one MLS match in 2015 without giving one solitary minute of action to a Canadian. Patrice Bernier has been on the bench, but hasn’t seen action. Well done to the Impact.

RANKING: Wow, just four Canadians saw action this week (and only two — Teibert and Osorio — who are right now in the national-team picture). And, with Canadian teams, we’re already averaging less than one Canadian starting per roster (two Canadians saw action out of the three teams). I don’t know if you can grade a league worse than an F. But, heck, F stands for #farce. Maybe Iain Hume was onto something.


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  1. Justin Kelemen

    March 10, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Great idea, I will be sure to keep my eye on this.

  2. italk2u

    March 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Canadians will never get a fair shake in Div. 1 or 2 until there is an all-Canadian league that can give the players added incentives such as national team tryouts, better payouts and the opportunity to play overseas in our off-season,
    As you stated, they need more minutes and until they get more, preferably at home where the fans can watch them, Canada will continue to languish in the bottom tier of the world standings.

  3. footy

    March 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I appreciate the exercise Steven, but then you’d also have to do the same in years before. That’s the only way you can tell if there’s any progress. Cause I got the feeling there is. Slowly, yes very slowly indeed, but I think there’s more Canadians in the league than ever. Wether or not they will all contribute, depends for a large part on the players themselves.

    As for Montreal or Whitecaps, players shouldn’t be given minutes because they’re Canadian. They should earn them. You can’t deny both teams (nor TFC) are investing heavily in developing Canadian players. That just takes a lot of time (and a bit of luck also, you don’t develop raw talent like Boakai or Manneh, they are born).

    • Steven Sandor

      March 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      In fact, we have done all that homework. In Issue 1 of Plastic Pitch, we looked at Canadian participation in every MLS season. It peaked on a per-team basis when TFC first came into the league, but has been on a steady descent ever since MLS changed the rules so Americans would be recognized as domestics on Canadian teams — and that our three teams only had to carry three Canadian players each.

      • footy

        March 9, 2015 at 9:29 pm

        I’m missing out on all that stuff, maybe it’s time to subscribe..

        TFC coming into the league featured a lot of Canadians. But where did they go on to play afterwards? Honestly if Canadian MLS-teams today would be obliged to field at least 6 Canadian players per game, they would suck big time. Talent pool is that shallow. They’re doing what they should be doing, creating new opportunities for young players and thereby making the pool deeper. The last step though, is always dependent on the available players.

        • Steven Sandor

          March 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

          They can’t go anywhere because they count as imports on the American teams. Meanwhile, we see so many U.S. “lifers” in MLS who play for five, six, seven MLS teams just because they fill the domestic quotas. A lot of this will be dealt with in the next issue, where players will talk about their crazy experiences trying to work in the U.S.

        • Kent

          March 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm

          I subscribed starting with issue 2. It’s a good read, I’d recommend it. Lots of original stuff in there that you don’t find online. I just scratched the surface of the latest issue, which is all about the Canada/US soccer relationship, but I’m itching to read it. Sitting under USA’s dinner table and waiting for crumbs to fall down isn’t going to get us anywhere.

  4. oliver

    March 9, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Who the hell cares that not one Canadian has played in 3 games for montreal? Thats what you got from montreal making history and advancing to the semi finals of the champions league?? How many english players start for Chelsea?? One? Where are they in the standings. That Toronto mentality of giving a f**** about Canadians being on the field is a small part of why tfc
    has never made the playoffs.. canadians need to earn their spot on the field it should not be granted out of sympathy.

    • James

      March 9, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      I care. Lots of football fans in Canada care. And really, I’d hardly say that TFC is a very large supporter of developing Canadian talent anyway. The reason they never made the playoffs is because they have had crappy players, especially crappy management and the worst of them certainly weren’t guys with Canadian passports.
      And Chelsea? You might want to check the state of The English national team. Some of those top clubs over there could do with a bit more development of local talent. Developing local players is good for business.
      The MLS has been horrible for player development in Canada. I don’t think that our national program has ever looked so dire. The MLS was supposed to be good for soccer in this country. It isn’t.

      • footy

        March 10, 2015 at 11:20 am

        FYI keeping an Academy up one year cost more than the MLS-Salary Cap. They are investing heavily in canadian talent.

        You’re trying to tell me the situation was better before Canada had 3 professional Academies and now 3 more professional teams for those players to cut their teeth in? Wow. Did you take a look at the U17 squad, where do they all play?

        • James

          March 12, 2015 at 6:25 pm

          Yes, the situation was better. Where do our players go after the U17 level? If they aren’t going to be getting minutes on the pitch, they aren’t going to develop. Our youth teams have always done fairly well in Concacaf and sometimes on the global stage too, as far back as I can remember. Have we even had a single U20 team qualify for a World Cup since the MLS began(not counting when we hosted)? We used to qualify pretty regularly.
          Our players arent developing in the MLS format. The results prove it.

    • mjjr

      March 11, 2015 at 2:04 am

      So Montreal made history by making the semis…..TFC were there in he semis in 2012

  5. bishopvillered

    March 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    How long before Will Johnson is back for PTFC?

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